Aviation is in my blood, with both my parents working at Heathrow Airport when I was a child. At the age of 13, I joined my local Squadron of Air Cadets. I did as much as Cadets could offer in the form of air experience flights, gliding, learning, courses, camps, qualifications and more. I knew that I had to achieve as much as I could in order to get where I wanted to be. There are two sayings my teachers, family and peers always used to say to me; “you get out what you put in” and “everything happens for a reason”. Looking back now, I’ve not heard truer words! My hard work from here on allowed me to form a respectable portfolio which would become crucial in my progression within aviation.
Part way into my first year at college, I was awarded a gliding scholarship at 618 Volunteer Glider Squadron (VGS), RAF Odiham where I went from zero to first solo in a motor glider. On the back of that, I completed my Advanced Glider Training and Grade 2 Pilot Status. I had already done some truly once in a lifetime things through people I had met and activities I had been on. Joining a select few in one of the only flying Lockheed Constellations slow and low along the coast has to be one of my favourites. I applied for the prestigious Air Cadet Pilot Scheme and soon after, the Air League/Bristow NPPL(A) scheme. I continued with college and prepared myself for my aircrew medical, which I got fit and lost 4 stone for. This is one of my biggest personal achievements and it goes to show, if you put your mind to something, you can do it.
I decided not to progress to university after college as the cost of training to be a pilot is high enough, without the extra added cost of paying back university fees. I started full time work, and not long after I had started, I had been awarded the Air Cadet Pilot Scheme. It was my first real taste of civilian general aviation, which ended with me completing my first solo flight in an SEP aircraft! I started looking for jobs doing anything aviation related. After applying for what seemed like every aviation related job in the world, I settled back into work. One afternoon, I received news that I had been shortlisted towards the Bristow Scholarship. If I got this, I’d be funded to train as a search & rescue helicopter pilot! After a long and testing selection process, I was one of four awarded the scholarship that year. More good news came in the form of gaining a job working in Operations at Goodwood Aerodrome. I started my new job and completed my PPL(A) at Tayside Aviation. Sadly due to a decline in the oil market, Bristow couldn’t take me any further, so I continued working in aviation and flying alongside. I gained more scholarships and bursaries and was also offered the West Atlantic Pilot Scheme. Unfortunately, days before I was due to start, the airline suspended the scheme. The knock back didn’t stop me though and I secured a job within Airfield Operations at Gatwick Airport.
I have since had several promotions and am now part of the Aerodrome Management Team, as well as progressing with flying alongside. In this time, I accrued many hours and completed my Commercial Pilot’s Licence & Instrument Rating at Redhill Aerodrome. I continued to fly and strived to remain competent even during the Covid ‘lockdowns’, so much so that I was awarded the Honourable Company of Air Pilots’ Flying Instructor scholarship in 2021, which now makes me a qualified instructor. I continue to teach alongside work and look forward to building my experience and knowledge of flying and teaching. I am a keen ambassador for the Aviation Industry and deliver university lectures, talks and support many people looking to enter the industry, or wanting to learn to fly.