Hey there and a massive welcome to my blog, Pilot George!
If you haven't guessed already based on the name of the blog, then I'm George and I'm a 23 year old university graduate undergoing training to become a commercial airline pilot with CTC Aviation - since rebranded to become L3 Airline Academy as of May 2017. Over the coming months I plan to use this blog to keep family, friends and any other budding pilots updated on my progress. I also aim to write posts on the not so heard of aspects of learning to fly, such as finance, cost of living, insurance, buying cars and much more as I was never able to find out this information prior to starting and I feel it would be useful in the public forum.
This about me page serves to provide an insight into my life and a quick summary of the course I'm enrolled on. Detailed posts on the latter can be found within the blog itself. You'll notice I am very open with my G.C.S.E., A Level and Degree results as well as my past employment history. I have done this not only because it's such a common question I receive, but also as a way for you to understand my background. I would like to stress here that I'm by no means the model trainee so don't go thinking you need a degree to train as it is in fact, quite the opposite. I am surrounded by many individuals from just as many differing backgrounds with some wanting a change of career, others having recently graduated university (like me) and the large majority (at least in my CP) having just completed their A levels.
If you're interested in where the dream all began, then you may find the "The Story So Far" section an interesting read.
Thanks for stopping by,
All the best,
1st Class BSc (Hons) Enterprise Computing
- BTEC Computing Practitioners (A*)
- A2 Applied Business Studies (B)
- A2 Photography (B)
- AS Extended Project (A)
- AS Ancient History (C)
- English Literature (C)
- English Language (B)
- Mathematics (B)
- Science (B)
- Additional Science (B)
- Business Studies (A)
- Spanish (C)
- Drama (C)
- History (C)
- Religious Studies (C)
- I.T. (Distinction)
- Citizenship (A)
11th August 2016
Expected End Date:
Nursling, Southampton, United Kingdom
Hamilton, New Zealand
- 25% Savings & Family Support
- 75% BBVA Pilot Mortgage
For as long as I can remember I've been fascinated by the entire concept of flight. For me, like many other budding commercial pilots, piloting an Airbus, Boeing, Embraer or any other make of aircraft around the skies is a thing dreams are made of, but where does the Aviation dream come from? Well, the truth is I have absolutely no idea! Whilst some cadets will reel off a full explanation (and there's nothing wrong with that by the way) I can't quite put my dream in to so many words. I mean, my Dad works on aircraft as did both of my Grandparents at some point, but was it their involvement in the industry that lit the flame? I'm afraid your guess is as good as mine but having worked in industry already, there isn't another that comes close (in my opinion).
With my mind firmly set on becoming a pilot I researched the many different routes to the flight deck. CTC Aviation was on my radar but at the time it seemed very expensive when there was little guaranteed in return and to add to that I wasn't even of age to apply. With financial constraints being the main barrier for me, like it is for many others, I started to consider the RAF. My Dad and Grandfather had been in the forces so why not follow in their footsteps, right? Although it has to be said both were in the Royal Navy so the idea of their son/grandson becoming a 'crab' made them chuckle. The more I read about our 'Air Power' the more excited I became and said interest later lead me to join the Air Cadets where I remained for almost 2 years.
Everything was mapped out in my head. I would study GCSEs and A Levels appropriate to my career path and apply as soon as I was legally able to. Sadly, things didn't work out when a routine visit to my optician incorrectly declared me as colour blind using, it has since transpired, outdated Ishihara plates (a sample is above). All I can remember is feeling down for several days. That was it. My dream was over. My path through education then followed my second interest, technology. I studied topics such as I.T., Business and Photography, all topics that weren't entirely related to aviation. I started my own freelance business in website development and even went on to complete a degree in Enterprise Computing. Everything was pointing in the direction of a career in the tech industry and I was happy with that. Aviation was well and truly parked in the back of my mind...
...That is, until the 21st September 2014 when my fortunes began to change. On this day I was gifted an experience flight and loved every second of it. A few months later I happened to be exhibiting at the same event CTC Aviation were. During a little bit of downtime I paid them a visit and had a chat about their current position. Then being aged 21 it had been 4 or 5 years since I had last looked at them and they had certainly come a long, long way. I explained my predicament to which they advised I booked myself a Class 1 medical examination to find out if I truly was colour blind.
Looking back I am so happy I volunteered to help out at that exhibition as CTC's advice ended up with me being granted a completely unrestricted Class 1 medical certificate. I wasn't colour blind after all. I always had a feeling that optician was wrong and what's even better is I passed the CAA's Ishihara test with no issues. I didn't even need to make use of their more advanced tests. A week or so later CTC announced their brand new partnership with Virgin Atlantic and I made sure to apply!
I passed the application stage but sadly fell short at Dibden Manor in the mental arithmetic tests. As upsetting as a failure was, looking back I believe I am now in a better position. If I had made it all the way through the application process I would have dropped out of my degree three years in. Who does that?!!!
Certain I wouldn't fail next time I spent the year that followed practicing mental arithmetic every single day to ensure I could complete 15 questions in as so many minutes. The good news is that I passed at Dibden Manor a whole year later but the bad news is I sadly didn't make the final Virgin Atlantic shortlist. Nevertheless, CTC Aviation extended me an offer to join their Whitetail Integrated ATPL program after the completion of Virgin Atlantic assessments in February 2016.
Whilst I was pleased to have the offer on the table, I wasn't going to jump in head first. The fact is, £93,800 is a lot of money to part with. I was sure to contact several current, and past cadets for advice, I also visited CTC Aviation for two or more open days to get a true feel for it and introduce family to the organisation. Even with all of the above, I didn't feel I would be joining CTC Aviation as funding options required household disposable income above a certain amount each month and on initially checking, BBVA would lend me no where near the course fee. It is worth noting that finance is another topic in itself so if you're interested in it I've talked about it in a separate section of this blog. After several weeks of discussion, the financial support of both grandparents, parents and brother, we sent an application to the bank in March and received a response back an entire month later. Great News!! The bank were now willing to lend me £70,000 and the rest we found from other sources such as savings etc.
Allowing myself time to complete my degree, take a short break from studying and enable the bank to complete their processes, I opted for course CP149G starting on the 11th August 2016 - I was super excited to get going. Despite previous cadets and even line pilots from Bristol Airport warning me of the intensity of ground school, nothing could have prepared me for just how full on it was. Based in CTC's Nursling training centre, I studied for the 14 ATPL topics over a period of 24 weeks and was so relieved on receiving my final results in mid-February that I'd passed all of them to an overall average of 86%.
After about a month waiting for the return of our New Zealand visas we finally boarded that A380 for New Zealand, via Dubai. Originally planning to train in Phoenix, Arizona, CTC had to make a last minute change to our schedule towards the end of ground school. Having never been to New Zealand before I was incredibly excited to see a new part of the world all whilst experiencing it from a few thousand feet in the air! On arriving we were given the weekend to settle in before cracking on with the initial indication in to the New Zealand law with flying starting two weeks later.
Nothing could have prepared me for just how gorgeous this country is. There's not one trainee here that will disagree with me. The rising terrain, the long winding rivers, the epic sunrise / sunsets.. need I go on? I feel truly spoiled to be able to have been afforded the opportunity to train here and the more i think about it the happier I am that I'm here compared with Arizona. There's only so much sand I think I could've put up with! Over the first 20 weeks of training my coursemates and I learnt the fundamental skills of flying a plane as well as how to navigate by VFR - visual flight rules. At the time of writing this paragraph I'd just completed PT1 the internal progress test equivalent to a PPL skills test and will be progressing onto the Twinstar as of next week. Two engines... can't wait!
Last updated: 5th August.