By Jennifer Cairns 05 Apr 2023 5 min read

How I became a First Officer at Wizz Air UK

Meet Joe, First Officer at Wizz Air UK.


When people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I only ever had one answer. “A Pilot!”   

I’m not sure where my passion for the industry came from exactly but my grandad used to design wings at Fairey Aviation Company and I have since found out that he was a keen spotter of old war birds; something I enjoy myself. My mum would take me to airshows as a kid and I was captivated by the skill of the pilots and the speed of the aircraft. 


So when did the dream start for you?

It’s fair to say that I caught the aviation bug early, but it wasn’t until my twelfth birthday that I got a taste of flying for myself. My parents bought me a trial flight at my local aerodrome on a perfectly hot summers day and I will always remember that first takeoff, wondering if this thing was actually going to get off the ground. I was amazed when it did and I was hooked!


What were your next steps?

In May 2018 I was accepted into L3 Airline Academy (as it was called at the time) and two months later, I was on a plane to New Zealand to begin my ground school studies. What followed was 6 months of the hardest work I have ever done, towards sitting 14 exams. This is definitely something I would suggest to prepare for as much as possible and if you have been out of school for a while, I’d suggest getting back into it with brain training apps or doing some maths and physics based questions. 

My ground school instructors were fantastic and brought a huge wealth of knowledge from a variety of areas within the industry.  

Over the course of the next two and a half years, I achieved my Commercial Pilot License after having flown the Cessna 172 and then the Diamond DA42. I was immensely grateful that I was able to complete my training in New Zealand and every day I was flying around incredible scenery including beautiful coastlines, amazing waterfalls and even volcanoes!    

It was such a good feeling that all that effort enabled me to achieve a big goal, but I knew there was more work to come, including 3 months in Bournemouth before my training was complete and I could apply for my ATPL. 

After finishing my ATPL training, I worked in several different roles including as a delivery driver, flight operations assistant and crewing officer. I feel Covid gave me this chance to develop my skills and abilities further and I have taken a lot of things I learnt in these roles into my job as a pilot. 

In March 2022, I passed the selection to become a First Officer at Wizz Air UK and I completed my Airbus A320 type rating 4 months later. This was an intense 5 week ground school and simulator course where I learned all the systems on board as well as how to handle the aircraft in a variety of emergency scenarios, that I could encounter in my career. 
At the start of October, I got my hands on the jet for the first time, as I completed base training at East Midlands airport and completed 6 visual circuits. 
I will never forget this day, as it was the culmination of over 3 years of hard work, long nights and many doubts and I can’t help but think that this experience will take a lot to top.
Another milestone was my first flight with passengers, which I completed at the end of November and I was really nervous at having over 200 people on board. This was another memorable day and it marked the beginning of my type rating training which I am currently around halfway through. 


What advice do you have for anyone just starting out?

My advice for anyone considering a job as a pilot is to go for it! Don’t doubt your abilities and enjoy the ride! I’m also realising that pilots never stop learning so, perhaps most importantly, be ready to learn.         


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