A little over 5 years ago, I was given the opportunity to learn a fascinating skill. It is a thing most young children and adults either dream of doing or at least think about doing when they grow up…. being a pilot.
Like any young child growing up, I always thought about becoming a pilot, but thought it as an impossibility. This wasn’t broken until the beginning of my second year at University where I discovered that a major recruitment pipeline for the Royal Air Force (University Air Squadron – UAS) recruited students as Voluntary Reservists for a minimum of 2 years or until their degree finished. Newly recruited Officer Cadets are not only given a paid job for 35 days a year, but also get free military flight, adventure and regimental training with all expenses paid (prior to UK SDSR). To this day, my biggest challenges, many of the dreams I have and had and many of the skills I still exercise today are thanks to the RAF.
At the end of my degree in 2010, I attempted to continue my career in the RAF by enrolling as full time pilot. However, with the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) in 2010 all military aviation careers had been frozen, which were not lifted until Q2 2014.
At the end of my degree, I had a military aviation career mapped out, which came to an abrupt end with the freeze. I had 28 (3.5 solo) hours flight time logged in my military log book, and had to reassess my options to continue my passion of flying.
My research into civilian flight training gave me many options, albeit for one small hitch, civilian flight training is exceptionally expensive (£60-100k+). With no family in a situation to support me financially and next to no cadetship schemes that offer a true scholarship with a guaranteed job at the end of it to become a type rated second or first officer these options dwindled to one conclusion, I’d have to pay for my training if I wanted to continue to fly.
After waiting on the military recruitment freeze to lift, with little change, I decided to leave the military behind and began a successful career in Cyber Security in late 2012 which has allowed me to begin flying (PPL – Private Pilots License) in March 2014 on a weekend basis. Reflection over the past year has led me to write about my experiences in aviation thus far with an emphasis on sharing my experiences in civilian flight training and writing on what I have learned, theory and practical.