It’s fair to say that the past year has been one like no other. I can still remember when the news reported on a “new virus”, but that it was “nothing to worry about”. Oh, how wrong they were. If only we knew what was to come. Global lockdowns, border closures and the aviation industry in limbo. There’s no hiding the fact that it has been one the hardest hit industries the past year, but aviation is a dream for all those who pursue it so how have I managed to stay positive through it all and not give up on the dream?
For most of the past year, I’ve still been in training as part of my Integrated ATPL. While it would have been easy to have given up due to Covid-19, being in training has been the ideal situation for me. I’ve still been able to fly regularly and progress and develop as a pilot. The sense of achievement recently when I passed my final flight test was definitely amplified when I consider how tough the past year has been. For me, the goal of gaining my licence and being able to say that I have achieved my dream is what initially has kept me going.
Having now finished training, I think it’s extremely important to keep myself within the aviation circles to keep that love of flying alive. Personally, I’m volunteering with Project Wingman and also remaining actively involved in my local flying club where I originally learned to fly nearly eight years ago. The advantage of returning to my flying club is that I’ve been able to take friends and family on flights to enjoy the views that we pilots are so lucky to call our office. It also helps to keep me current and keep my skills sharp. But I’m also using this opportunity to try my hands at different kinds of flying; I have plans to try gliding and aerobatics in the near future to broaden my aviation experience and skills that I can ultimately take to the airlines.
Staying informed about what’s happening within the industry is also essential. As trained pilots, we need to ensure that we keep up our CPD (Continuing Professional Development) so I regularly read industry magazines and news outlets. The magazines are especially great as they have insightful articles written by current and former pilots. This has helped me to develop an awareness and understanding of many aviation topics which are often talked about during training, but perhaps not in detail. I’ve also joined professional bodies such as the Royal Aeronautical and Engineering Society. What’s great about an organisation like this is the online seminars and conferences that they offer, giving you the chance to network with those in the industry already.
One of the most worrying things for many at the moment is employment. As pilots, we possess a unique skillset. We don’t often think about these skills, as many of them have been developed subconsciously but the skills we have are highly desirable to employers. Being able to convey these during an interview will help you stand out amongst the competition. For me, I quickly started looking for jobs that required skills I picked up during my flight training and was fortunate to have been offered a job fairly quickly, allowing me to use some of my transferable skills until I land my first job in the cockpit. But it will also allow me to develop new skills that I know will be of great use in my future career in an airline.
Understandably, it’s easy to be demoralised, and even angry about the state of the industry at the moment. If anything, it’s natural to be that way. But ultimately, we need to stay positive. Aviation has seen its fair share of low points: the first Gulf War, 9/11 and the Global Recession spring to mind. But one thing is certain about these low points - airlines have used them to restructure and emerge even stronger than before. So, for me it’s not a matter of if airlines will recover, it’s simply a matter of when.
If I had to choose one thing that stands out over the past year, it’s how the aviation community has come together at a time of struggle. We’ve seen professionals from all corners of the industry come together to support one another through these hard times. Whether it be an offer of employment, CV help, volunteering, free and discounted simulator time for keeping current. It makes me proud to be joining an industry that clearly cares so much about each other. This has given me true hope that the future will be a bright one for us all!