Meet Sara, easyJet Cadet Pilot.
Where did the dream start for you?
The thought of becoming a pilot hadn’t ever crossed my mind; I didn’t know anyone in Aviation and was set on becoming a fashion designer but, coming from a strict Caribbean background, that wasn’t an option my parents supported.
I first came across the idea of being a pilot when I was on a plane with my parents. I was searching my brain for ideas of what to do with my life that would be fun, exciting, unusual, practical, and rewarding.
Looking at the cabin crew I thought they looked happy and maybe I could do that one day. Then I looked outside and thought about how much I enjoyed being in the air, how peaceful it was and how beautiful the views were and considered being an astronaut. For some reason, that didn’t resonate with me, so I considered what other roles there are and landed on pilots!
I spoke to my parents about it there and then, they were very supportive and shortly after, my father introduced me to the Air Cadets.
Once I plucked up the courage to go to my nearest squadron, I was hooked. I also had my first trial lesson at a local flying club with a female instructor, which was apparently a rarity in the industry that I was unaware of at the time.
I didn’t realise then how important representation was but seeing her as a pilot helped me to not question becoming one myself.
What were your first steps to get into the industry?
When I graduated from University it was 2009 and there wasn’t much around by way of cadet pilot schemes. My first job was as a Customer Service Agent at London Heathrow Airport.
From there I went on to become long-haul cabin crew member and continued taking flying lessons privately, in my spare time. I figured I had gained a good understanding of the industry to know the dedication and effort it takes and decided it’s now or never to gain some life experience and go exploring the world a bit.
I spent some time working in beauty, fashion, media, Public Relations and VIP catering. All throughout this I had a yearning to travel, so I started working in an outdoors shop to save money and utilise the staff discount.
Then I spent a summer volunteering in Hawaii and a winter season snowboarding and working in the mountains in Japan.
Towards the end of my time there I wanted to see what else I could achieve; I missed flying and felt I was ready to re-embark on my aviation journey. When I returned, I started working as a temp as a Personal Assistant and Secretary to Consultant Surgeons. This gave me the flexibility to go to open days, apply to cadet pilot programmes and prepare for selection days.
Did you face any challenges, and if so, how did you overcome them?
I faced many challenges along the way but I think the most prevelent would be graduating and looking for a cadet pilot scheme, or a way into the industry during a global recession.
There weren’t many jobs around so, I chose to keep myself motivated by taking flying lessons and looking for a job at the airport to give me an insight into the industry. It also gave me some experience and familiarity with the environment and lifestyle flying brings. This was probably the best thing I could have done because not only did it reinforce how important it is to value all roles of an operation but it reminded me to see the challenge as an opportunity and I definitely had a lot of fun experiences along the way.
What advice would you give to aspiring aviation professionals currently searching for a job?
Straight roads are boring - Don’t lose hope if things don’t happen for you how you expect, try to enjoy the detours! There are lots of mentoring organisations out there to help you stay positive and motivated. Whilst you’re focusing on your goal of flying, don’t be afraid to try new things and build your character.
I would highly recommend having a “side hustle” or some skills outside of aviation to have something to fall back on if things happen which are beyond your control. Develop your understanding of money - the sooner you learn about this the better. Getting disciplined with your finances as soon as possible would also definitely take the pressure off of you later down the line when you begin your training. I do believe you can have it all, as you should!
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