By Jennifer Cairns 05 Apr 2023 5 min read

Advice from a Lead Flight Instructor at Tayside Aviation

Meet Alexander, First Officer and Lead Flight Instructor at Tayside Aviation.



For as long as I can remember I have always applied for pilots jobs as I wanted to be a pilot!

This was fuelled when I was in the Air Cadets from 14, experiencing flying and gliding through AEF’s & VGS’s.

At 16 I completed a Gliding Scholarship including my first solo glider flight, which only strengthened my passion.

A year or so later, I then also completed a flying scholarship through the air cadets (ACPS) and completed my first powered solo flight in the minimum time of 10 hours! I was very lucky to be awarded a further 12-hour scholarship from the Air League, and the luck continued as I was awarded a full PPL Scholarship from the Honourable Company of Air Pilots – the first ever Air BP Sterling Scholarship.

While on my Air Pilots’ scholarship, the Degree between Tayside Aviation and Middlesex University was just being conceived, and made for a very exciting prospect once it was to be active. I decided that this would be the way into aviation for me. This was a degree that ran alongside modular training, allowing some of the training costs to be offset against tuition fees – this seemed like a sensible route!

Through this I completed my frozen ATPL and also gained a BSc(Hons) degree in the process. I am now currently instructing while I apply for pilot jobs and wait for my first commercial job, and then hopefully advance further into the world of business jets – flying for NetJets is the dream destination!

I struggled with the ATPL theory as back then the course did not consist of a full time ground school element – this has since changed.

Flying is my passion (not the theory, but sadly the two go hand in hand). I overcame this struggle through perseverance and hard work, studying with every free minute of my time, and staying as focused as possible to allow me to complete the theory exams in the timeframe I had in mind.

I am now currently the Lead Flying instructor for the ACPS scholarships at Tayside Aviation, responsible for all aspects of the flying side of the course. It is great to train these cadets up towards first solo standard, and give them the same amazing opportunity I was afforded when I was their age as I know how invaluable this experience and other flying scholarships are. It is also great to be able to train newer instructors to be able to teach on this course as it is great to see how they have developed over their first period of flight instruction, and help them to grow further and also rack up those hours!

I am currently also completing my IRI course and hope to also complete my ME CRI course in the coming years to be able to instruct more courses. I hope to keep my instruction going alongside my commercial career as instructing is good fun and very rewarding.

I would say that research is the best advice that I can give. Think about what you want to get out of your future career and choose a flying school that aligns with that. Some are more suited to airline operations, and often have the links to them. Others are more suited to other areas of aviation, such as special operations. Your choice of flying school will make the biggest contribution to your career, so it is important to ensure that it is money well spent.

To help get that precious first step into the aviation world, research the scholarships that are available to you – there are far more out there than most people think – and free flying is the best kind of flying! The various bodies that award the scholarship are there to help those who need it, and are of course deserving of such a large investment. The scholarships generally range from 5hrs all the way up to a full PPL (45hrs).

Explore Pilot jobs now. 


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