Meet Thomas, Boeing 737 Pilot.
Where did the dream start for you?
My grandfather was a private pilot. When I was a child, he made me try various flight simulators on his computer, in the south of France.
Going back home to Paris, I got my own flight simulation setup, and started spending hours flying on the computer. I don’t know why but I really got addicted to it; it took me to my own world. Then in high school when I had to choose a career path, even though it seemed crazy, I decided to apply for pilot jobs to become an airline pilot.
What were your first steps to get into the industry?
In 2019, during my last year of high school, I started flying in a aeroclub at least once a week training towards obtaining my private pilot licence. I learned the basics of flying, but also about weather, performances, navigation, communication, etc.
After few hours of flying, I did my first solo flight, a day I will never forget! I still remember looking at the cockpit and telling myself that I am the only one in control of the plane if there is any problem.
I continued to learn, and after a year of flying, a theoretical exam and flight test, I finally got my Private Pilot licence, same time as I graduated high school.
Then I joined a flight school to study the airline transport pilot licence (ATPL) certificates for a year. These are the same subjects as I learned while studying for my private pilot licence, but much more advanced.
It was a lot of work: 750 classroom hours, but I made some really good friends who were passionate about the same thing as me. I finally passed all 14 exams first try on June 2020. I finished the year flying across France and Europe with friends to build flight hours which is required before the next stage.
With 175h of experience, I was able to start my Commercial Pilot licence. During this course you learn to do more professional checklists and briefings, also better flight planning and monitoring. Then I started my Multi-Engine and Instrument Rating, which is a lot of simulator sessions and flights on twin-engine aircraft to master departures, navigation and approaches without visual references, only using your instruments, and dealing with engine failures.
The last step was the APS-MCC (Airline Pilot Standard Multi-Crew-Cooperation) course, on Boeing 737 simulators. I did it at the Airline Flight Academy in Dublin. We learn how to share the tasks between 2 pilots, one flying and one monitoring, where, until now, we were alone to manage a flight. It’s the perfect course between initial flight training and the challenging world of commercial aviation. I completed the MCC course in February 2021.
After 3 years of training, studying and hard work, I was finally able to send my application off to Ryanair. As I was a mentored cadet, I got a response in few days inviting me for my final assessment in Dublin, which I succeeded.
I followed the Boeing 737 Type Rating course for three months, and finally did my first flight on a real Boeing 737 in September. I’m now based in Palma de Mallorca and flying on the line around Europe.
Did you face any challenges, and if so, how did you overcome them?
The ground school of airline pilot licence was significantly challenging. It was a vast workload studying the 14 books to be successful on the exams.
From the beginning, I divided the total number of chapters to be studied by the time we had. This allowed me to know what to study, when, to see how I was progressing, and thus to have an optimal organization. This allowed me to go to the exams serenely.
What advice would you give to aspiring aviation professionals currently searching for a job?
I was lucky enough to find a job in a major airline right after finishing school, but I would recommend to any professional pilot to start any job they find to start gaining flying experience. Don’t be afraid to move abroad.
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