Airline Academy Pilot Stories

From One End of Radio Transmission to Another

  • Article by Shawn Heng - L3Harris graduate
  • Published
  • Duration 6 minute read

"It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings" - Meister Eckhart

This quote never fails to serve as a great motivation to myself; to start off my new beginnings. My name is Shawn “Fortune” Heng. “Fortune” is my personal callsign whilst I served in the military, the Republic of Singapore Air Force, for 17 years as an Air Traffic Controller.

This callsign was given by my Squadron Commander as my first name “Heng” holds a similar meaning to “Fortune” in Chinese tradition. And in 2018 at age 37, approaching the peak of my military career and being so comfortable in my job, I decided to quit and embark on this new journey in becoming a commercial pilot. With this brave career move, I hope that the Fortune favours the Bold.

The movie - Pushing Tin, which was released in 1999, fuelled my desire to pursue an aviation career as a controller. With that, I joined the Air Force in 2001 and began my military career as an Air Traffic Controller. In 2018, I was grateful to end off my humble military career as the Chief Training Officer in 207 Squadron (an Air Traffic Control Tower Squadron in Paya Lebar Air Base) and was immensely proud to train the next generation of Air Traffic Controllers in the Squadron. From the bottom of my heart, I thank the Air Force for nurturing me to who I am today. As I am still under the military reserve, I would continue to maintain my controlling currency with my squadron for as long as I can. Not many people can say that they get to enjoy the best of both worlds (as a controller and as a pilot), like I do.

For the past 17 years, while controlling aircraft in the control tower, I often imagined what it is like to be on the other side of the radio frequency flying the aircraft as a pilot. I firmly believe that the sense of satisfaction is second to none! Hence, after serving out my bond in 2017, I applied for the part-time ground school programme at Revion Ground School. Starting off as part-time was the obvious choice as I could still hold on to my job and also ensure minimum disruption to my family (my beloved wife and daughter). The part-time ground school was especially tough as I constantly needed to juggle between work and family. I was sincerely thankful to my wife for taking care of the family singlehandedly. Especially so now, while I am currently in New Zealand for my flight training for a year. My wife gives me wings to fly away from home; I promise to return home with another pair of wings.

With sheer determination and hard work, I completed the ground school in ten months, with all passes at the first attempt. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my instructor & close friend – Toh Youhao for making it possible. His burning passion for teaching and strong expertise in all the subjects impressed me deeply.

With the completion of ground school, I finally quit my job in October 2018 and embarked on the full-time flight training in L3Harris Airline Academy. Ever since I started my flight training five months ago, I was impressed with the high training standard of L3Harris. As long as I put in my best effort to obtain my Commercial Pilot Licence, I am confident that I would be able to get an airline job with L3Harris’ excellent reputation in this aviation industry. I would also like to take this chance to extend my heartfelt appreciation to my primary instructor for the foundation phase – Ryan Molden. Without him and his exceptional teachings, I would not be able to make it this far. He is the product of L3Harris’ instructor programme and an excellent testament to the L3Harris high training standard.

Last but not least, I hope my story could inspire others to chase their dreams, regardless of the age.

“It’s never too late to get started on a new path. Let not your past or the opinions of others hold you back from going after what you truly want. You are the Captain of your ship, so steer yourself in the direction of your dreams.” - Anonymous

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