By Jennifer Cairns 15 May 2023 5 min read

My Journey to the Flight Deck

Meet Oskar, Airline Pilot Cadet at Leading Edge Aviation. Oskar shares his story of how he came to have a seat in the Flight Deck and gives advice on how you can navigate your journey too. 



As typical/cliché as it may sound, aviation for me has always been about the machine. 

Understanding the intricacies of any aircraft, be it a single engine piston up to a heavy jet continues to fascinate me to no end. I’ve been incredibly lucky growing up in that I was going abroad every school holiday with my family, which would involve a trip on an aircraft, as a result of this I am applying for pilot jobs as I speak. 

Due to my fathers’ job, I had the opportunity to live in Hong Kong from the age of 6 till 10, this was fantastic as it would involve 5-6 trips a year on the upper deck of a British Airways 747 back and forth to Heathrow, as well as the chance to travel around Asia and Australia easily. 


Where did the dream start for you?

The dream properly started during the incredibly frequent trips onboard the Queen of the Skies, even at that young age climbing those trademark narrow stairs, settling into the seat, your senses being hit by the dry blast of the aging air-conditioning fighting a raging battle with the subtropical humidity, even on those midnight departures.

It was as I sat there, silently watching the incredible aircraft limber up for another long haul flight, that one of the flight crew, presumably on his way back from the walk-around, invited me up to see the cockpit was where I started to think that this was what I wanted to do.

From then on, I would try my best to visit the flight crew before or after the flight.

I was given a “journey logbook” by my father as one of my Christmas presents after that, and I would give this to the cabin crew who would do their best to facilitate a cockpit visit and have the pilots fill out the various fields (duration, distance etc). I kept on using these logbooks until my early teens and the amount of amazing interactions with flight crew from all over the globe, on aircraft of all different shapes and sizes was phenomenal, and as well as the fact that I am incredibly grateful to my father for giving me the chance to go to all these amazing places, as well as supporting my flight training, I’m so happy he had the idea to get me these logbooks as the amount of happiness such a simple, small thing could bring was awesome. 


What were your first steps towards becomming a Pilot?

I’ve been incredibly lucky, my entry into aviation was as simple as they come. I turned 18 in the Easter of 2020 and then finished my A levels a few weeks later, due to lack of in-person exams, and then, after a somewhat mediocre COVID summer and autumn, I walked straight into integrated flight training with an ATO based at London Oxford Airport, only an hour from my home in Putney, SW London.

Immediately, the challenge of Ground School hit, made worse by the fact I was one of the first students to take on the CAA EQB2020 syllabus and then, the “second wave” of COVID struck the UK. The impact was like that of the previous year, as vaccines weren’t starting to work yet.

Ground school turned virtual, and whilst it was nice to be with family, trying to work out how to use performance charts over Teams was less so, though it goes without saying that the instructors did their utmost to work with what we had. The worst impact of them all though, was the difficulty in sitting exams due to exam centres closing unpredictably etc.

Fast-forward to February 2022 and I had passed all my CAA ATPL examinations, and I transitioned to the flight phase of training. 

Flying around the south of the UK and Wales in a Diamond DA40 was the perfect introduction to handling an aircraft for me, combining both conventional navigation with the luxury of a glass cockpit was amazing, as was the instruction from numerous, fantastic TKIs.

However, this too was slow going, due to the usual delays/cancellations involved with VFR flying in Western Europe such as weather/aircraft serviceability, this was compounded by the number of people in the training system in Oxford, due to other ATOs farming their students out to the one I had gone to, so flights were few and far between.

The highlight of this part of training was most definitely my commercial qualifying cross country, where I was lucky enough to fly on a CAVOK day from oxford, overflying my Grandma’s house in South Wales before going on to land at Cardiff, Bournemouth and Newquay before flying back to Oxford.

At the time of writing, I am waiting to fly my Commercial Pilots License exam in the DA42, to then move on with the multi-engine instrument rating, AUPRT training and APS MCC training in an A320 fixed base sim, as soon as i have passed this, I hope to be in one of the pilot jobs I have applied for. 


If you could give any advice to aspiring Pilots, would what it be?

The standout thing I’ve learnt throughout my flight training, and in life generally, is to talk to people. You’ll always learn something.

One of the best parts of training in Oxford has been forming a close friendship with the owner of the catering company at the airport, who I work with in my spare time to help him develop his inflight catering for business jets, as well as taking it to amazing aircraft around the country, which is a fantastic opportunity to talk to pilots and cabin crew, and hear about how life is with them (and eat amazing food!).

Whilst we all hold the same license on paper, there are so many ways of cutting the cake. To some, working a 2-week rotation flying a Gulfstream around the globe is good, for others flying an A320 in and out of Gatwick and going home each night is more for them.

It’s horses for courses and you should never discount something if you haven’t tried it, nobody is perfect and as cheesy as it sounds, a good pilot is always learning. 

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