Introducing James Scott
I’m James, 21 and currently training to become a commercial pilot in the United Kingdom. From a very young age I was interested in planes and flying, and I don’t think there were many air shows my parents didn’t take me to!
It started with the way the aeroplanes flew and how big they were (to a 7-year-old!) to believing ‘I can and want to do that!’ Now, what attracts me to becoming a pilot is the general lifestyle. I'm not an ‘Avgeek’ or someone who’s overly interested in aircraft, but I love the concept of having an office at 30,000ft travelling to various destinations around the world, meeting and working with a new team on a regular basis.
My Journey to an aviation career
My journey is somewhat different to the normal Integrated route with one of the big companies. I’ve done all my training through the modular route which has allowed me to work alongside doing my training.
I started working in the school holidays at the age of 14 to put money into flying and attained my PPL at Redhill aged 18 with a little help from my parents and family. Then came the hour building which I began to power through whilst working in an accounts department and warehouse packing during the evenings. I also worked with landscape gardeners as a labourer and for family and friends in order to find money to fly!
Along came Covid which scuppered the flying, so I made the decision to do the ATPL exams through distance learning whilst still working. This, for me, was a lonely experience attempting to learn heaps of content through online recorded lessons and books and with no other future pilots to have a bit of banter with or check you were on the right track with something.
After 8 months of trying to learn the content and to put it bluntly, feeling like I was failing, I took the plunge and quit my job to do the exams full time with L3 Harris. This was the best decision I've made with my training to date. I had 6 months of intensive learning with top class instructors who helped me enormously and made some good friends.
Currently I’m back to finishing my hour building (approximately 25 hours) whilst working before I can take the next course which is the Multi engine Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilots Licence.
Like I have said, my journey is vastly different to the Integrated route, but it has allowed me to continue earning money alongside training which is enabling me to pay for some of the courses in full, accommodation and hour building by myself and that makes me feel I am really achieving more than completing a course. I work long days, evenings and weekends to fit in flying and working around each other.
At the end of the day becoming a pilot isn’t easy work (not that I’m quite there yet!), but I think it needs to be mentioned that you don’t need A* in your school exams or a degree from University to follow this career path. If you remain dedicated and self disciplined then you will succeed.
An average day training to become a pilot
As a modular student I really don’t think you can have a ‘normal’ day. For me, across my training my days have varied to a great extent. It has ranged from taking off from Redhill at 9am - flying to Calais for some instrument approaches and a bit of breakfast before flying back - landing at 12PMand getting into the office to do general accounting tasks!
I recently flew to an airport near to my current job rather than sit on the motorway in the traffic jams; it’s a good way to complete the hour building. On the flip side, throughout my ATPL exams I attended classes from 8am to 4pm, took a break until 5:30pm whilst I grabbed some food and a quick trip to the gym before revising until 10pm.
I would definitely suggest that if you are considering a modular route, look at completing the ATPL exams during the autumn / winter as your flying time is more restricted with the weather and light so you won’t miss it so much.
Once I start the Multi Engine and CPL aspect of my training, an average day should be a flight in the morning and then working from home in the afternoon managing social media accounts with a PR firm, my current job!
3 Tips I’d Share to aspiring aviation professionals
- It’s a long journey whichever route you take and trying to stay dedicated for that long is a struggle so make sure you take time away to do your own thing!
- Join Facebook/Discord groups for pilots. There are loads of other like minded people out there trying to get into the industry so find them, meet them and talk about flying! Throughout my written exams I was told by instructors that the people who come out with the best results are often those who find other people to work with and bounce ideas off.
- Shop around – Don’t jump in with the first flying school you find and avoid paying up front! Find a school that you can pay as you go and have a trial flight to see if you get on with the instructors.