From L3Harris Student to WIZZ Air First Officer
- Duration 3 minute read
My name is Lee and I am a recently graduated cadet from L3Harris. I started working towards my career in aviation back in 2017, when I carried out my assessment to get onto the Integrated ATPL course. I began my training the following year, having left a career in facilities management behind. After all the research, the visits to flight school open days, the seemingly endless exams and a few (at times literal) ups and downs, I gained employment at my first airline – Wizz Air UK, flying the Airbus A320 family of aircraft out of London Luton. As I write this post, I am waiting to begin my line training, having recently completed my Type Rating and emergency training, which included a pretty fun day in a swimming pool and sliding down the emergency exit slides!
If you were to tell 11 year old me, as I was stood in the flight deck of an A320 coming home from a family holiday, that this will, after some hard work and sacrifice, be your “office” one day – I simply wouldn’t have believed you.
That same feeling still applies now. A number of times during my Type Rating I left the simulator and despite being tired from all the exercises the Instructor had thrown at us, turned to my sim partner Khalid and in a shared disbelief said, “we’ve just been at work.”
"I would love to try my hand at instructing one day – I know the positive impact all of my Instructors had on me."
That feeling of landing an aircraft after a long flight is something I don’t think will ever get old. The excitement of the landing itself, the sense of achievement having safely operated an aircraft from A to B whilst negotiating the world around you – weather, radios, other aircraft, navigation and terrain to name a few - is something you work up to throughout your flight training – initially working with an Instructor to achieve those goals, then flying solo and eventually as part of a multi-crew environment in a modern jet airliner. I remember starting out as a cadet pilot with zero flying hours under my belt, struggling with keeping the aircraft straight and level, but your skills develop at an amazing rate, eventually enabling you to work with a Captain to deal with a complex failure and fly the aircraft safely to a suitable landing.
The passion I have found for aviation is something that allows me to keep motivated when things get tough – and they do sometimes get tough! If it’s a difficult topic or challenges with workload during ground school, or a tricky day flying with a diversion due to bad weather, knowing that I am getting to live my dream each and every day keeps me going.
Over 20 years ago, 11 year old me wasn’t thinking about what will the industry look like when I retire. But the world of aviation is constantly moving forward in terms of safety, technology and commercial advancements. I hope to get involved with those innovations as my careers runs on and would love to try my hand at instructing one day – I know the positive impact all of my instructors had on me.
If you are considering a career in aviation, my best advice is to simply go for it. Do your research, visit a flight school open day, talk to people in the industry. There are some hurdles to get over when starting out, medicals and assessments can be stressful – but if I asked you how bad those things were just after you landed following a cross country solo navigation flight, assuming you can talk through the smile, I almost guarantee you won’t recall any memories of frustrating maths problems and tricky interview questions!