|18 Oct 2022|
After leaving Oswestry in 2013 Joe studied International Politics at Aberystwyth University, before following one of his passions in life and taking a job in the automotive industry. However after 3 years, Joe realised that he needed to return to a passion that he had considered as a teenager but never followed through on - becoming an airline pilot.
Having initially gone through the selection process after leaving school, Joe felt that he wasn’t ready for such a big step just weeks after his 18th birthday. As Joe says, "there are those who are ready, and those (such as me) who need a little life experience first".
After undertaking the psychometric and skills assessments in March 2020, Joe began his theoretical studying for the 14 Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) exams that summer in Crawley - the subjects covered navigation, comms, principles of flight, aerospace engineering, human performance, and meteorology to name only a selection. He completed these in March 2021 (after a three month pandemic-induced delay), and then moved to Oxford Airport in August to begin his practical training.
Joe has found the whole experience very enjoyable, despite the challenges posed by the course and the predictably unpredictable British weather. After logging over 120 hours on a single-engine aircraft, he has now moved on to the twin-engine Diamond DA42 - the mainstay training aircraft for most large aviation training organisations.
In September, Joe completed his Commercial Licence assessment, with which it’s possible to work as a pilot on smaller aircraft (taking parachutists airborne for example), and is continuing his training with the Instrument Rating, allowing him to fly based purely on instrument indications - essential for any airline pilot. Following this, Joe will complete a Multi-Crew Course assessment on an Airbus simulator which will introduce him to working alongside another pilot on a far more complex flight deck. The final phase of training is Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) - in essence, learning to how to regain control of an aerobatics plane that has been put into a series of dangerous manoeuvres. This is knowledge that all pilots have, yet the vast majority (thankfully!) never have to call on. This will complete Joe's training, giving him a “frozen” ATPL, and allowing him to begin the search for his first role as a Second Officer sitting in the right hand seat of an airliner.
Joe says, "There has been a lot of uncertainty in the industry, brought about initially by Brexit and then massively ramped up by Covid-19, but the aviation sector is recovering well so I’m hopeful that within 12 months I will have begun a type-rating with an airline - this is training designed to get a pilot fully competent with both an airline’s individual operational requirements and a specific aircraft (for example, EasyJet and the Airbus A320 family, or LoganAir and the ATR72).
"The course has been by far the most challenging endeavour I have ever undertaken but also by far the most rewarding. As well as following a long-held dream, the training has allowed me to view myself differently - being able to objectively see where my strengths and weaknesses are, and how/what I need to do to improve or consolidate; not to mention allowing me to learn to be able to deal with a 3am alarm call, something that every pilot will be very familiar with!
"I’ve also had an amazing time meeting likeminded people who come from all walks of life; the aviation industry may still have a long way to go in terms of diversity and inclusion, but there has been a marked change in the last few years, and the trend is very encouraging. The industry is also still at the very forefront of technological progress, and we are seeing more efficient and high-performance aircraft enter into service - not to mention the possibility of the return of supersonic flight toward the end of the 2020s.
"The long-term ambition is to find a role with one of the world’s larger long haul airlines, flying state-of-the-art aircraft, but before then I’ve still got many early mornings and training flights to contend with - I’ve got my fingers crossed that before too long, it’ll be my voice you hear over the PA system of an airliner that’s taking you off somewhere!"
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