What attracted you to a career as a pilot?
From a very young age I was surrounded by aviation. My father has flown for years and experienced a wide range of aircraft types during that time. My godfather was also an aerobatics pilot and flew regularly on the UK air display circuit. Unsurprisingly, when I first flew at the age of 16, I knew I had caught the bug.
Where did you start your flying training?
My first flights were in a Piper Tomahawk flying from Thruxton, in Hampshire, England. I can still vividly remember my first sortie as "pilot in command" after just 8h. After completing all the required ground school examinations and the 40h course, I was awarded my private pilot's licence in July 2003, at the age of 16.
The next step of my training was carried out at the European Pilot Training Academy in Bournemouth, where I completed my air transport pilot licence theory. This took nine months, between January and September 2004, and was followed by some flying fun in the Florida sun as I built up my hours on Cessna 152s.
When did you move on to multi-engined aircraft?
Once I returned from the USA, I attended Bristol Flying Centre,, where further training led to my multi-engine and instrument ratings and eventually my commercial pilot licence.
I then transferred to Oxford Aviation Training to complete my jet orientation and multi-crew rating on a Boeing 737-300 simulator before gaining my type certification, in early 2006, on the -300 through Bond Aviation Solutions, a division of Astraeus.
As a newly qualified commercial pilot, how did you secure your first employment?
Part of my training at Bond involved building up more than 100h on 737s with Astraeus, so I sent my CV off to its chief pilot and managed to secure a position as first officer flying from Norwich.
I spent 10 months flying an average of eight sectors a week on 737-300s to destinations in Spain and the Mediterranean. I'm now based at London Gatwick, flying 737-700s. I've recently acquired my ETOPS certification, logged 720h on 737s, and more than 1,000h in total.
How does the 737-700 compare with the earlier -300s?
The all-glass cockpit on the -700 makes it a far easier aircraft for the flightcrew to manage. The level of automation certainly makes life simpler. It's a fantastic aircraft to fly, completely different from the -300: smoother and faster.
Having achieved your childhood ambition at such a young age, what's next?
Professionally, I'm looking forward to migrating across to the 757 which Astraeus operates and, as my hours continue to build, progressing to my first command. I'm also keen to spend some time flying for pleasure. Aerobatics is very appealing - without the passengers behind me, of course.
What advice would you give to young budding pilots?
Every time I get into the cockpit I realise how lucky I am, so I'd definitely recommend it. It can be a challenge searching out the right training providers, but there are magazines available containing full listings, and you should always check out your local flying schools.
Source: Flight International