By RoxanneB 05 Jan 2022 5 min read

What is the lifestyle of a student pilot like?

Introducing Rasheed 

We recently spoke to Rasheed Graham a Former Aer Lingus Cadet now ATPL (A) Student at Flight Training Europe, we asked why he chose to join the aviation industry, what his schedule is like and key tips for aspiring aviation professionals. 


Why did you pursue a career in the aviation industry?

This is usually a difficult question for me to answer, I believe that the aviation industry chose me! From the age of 4/5 years old I have always dreamed of becoming a pilot and learning to fly so I guess it was somewhat innate and something I was always destined to do.


Can you detail what path you have taken to become a student pilot?

I joined the Air Training Corps (Air cadets) as soon as I turned 13 which allowed me access to free-flying/gliding tuition, after leaving the air cadets I started applying for flying and gliding scholarships where I was lucky enough to be awarded a 12 hour powered scholarship which lead to me being awarded a further 35-hour scholarship to complete my Light Aircraft Pilots Licence.

During my time at university, I joined East Midlands University Air Squadron where I was able to log 50 hours on the Grob Tutor as well as gain an insight into flying in the military. In 2019, I was fortunate to be selected by Aer Lingus as a cadet pilot on their MPL program. 


What is your schedule like as a student pilot?

During the ground school phase, your schedule is very busy. As students, we’re in classes from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday studying the ATPL subjects on top of the required self-study in the evenings as well as weekends.

The flying phase tends to be more flexible, I am usually scheduled for dual flights five days a week with one rest or 6 days a week during the solo phase with one rest day.


Can you share what it costs financially?

Flying training is an inherently expensive industry to venture into. To embark on an integrated course could cost anywhere between £80,000-120,000. Whereas the modular route offers a more flexible and cheaper route at around £40,000-60,000.


How do you manage the effects on your mental health of intensive training?

I like to stay active by going to the gym and playing sports. This gives me a much-needed break from all my studies and flying and gives me time to unwind. I have a good group of friends on campus who I can turn to if I need help which makes life easier.

I strive to keep myself organised so my workload doesn’t get the better of me especially during crucial periods of my training such as exams and skills tests.


How long will it take to complete the training?

This timescale varies from flying school to flying school due to various factors such as weather and aircraft serviceability but in general, your training could take anywhere between 14 and 24 months. 


What 3 tips would you give to an aspiring pilot?

  1. Be proactive and use all your resources available to you in terms of applying for scholarships, work experience and any opportunity that you think will get your foot in the door
  2. Do your research about the career you are trying to pursue. Many of us are unaware of the downsides of becoming a commercial pilot such as downturns in the industry for example covid. Be well informed on what is currently happening within the industry.
  3. Don't be afraid to fail, I have faced many setbacks in my journey so far and I have learned to embrace the journey and turn many situations that haven’t gone the way I have planned into learning opportunities.


Photo by Tomas Williams on Unsplash