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Best way to become a commercial pilot?

Old 27th Jan 2013, 10:14
  #1 (permalink)  
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Angel Best way to become a commercial pilot?

Basically I've wanted to become a commercial airline pilot from the age of 4 and have been *super* excited about it ever since (I'm 19), however, at age 15/16 I turned to computing instead because my father did not want me to become a pilot due to the fact that he thought it was "dangerous" and then basically he tried his best to put me off it and he succeeded. Other people also told me that because I wear glasses, I would be unable to do it, along with the fact that I would not have been able to study aerodynamics at university because of lack of A-Level Physics. So those are what turned me to computing.

But a couple of months ago I realized that trying to achieve this dream is not far-fetched and that it actually is possible if I tried hard enough. So I began researching, finding out as much information as I can to help determine my path for the next 5 years or so.

This is my problem: at the moment I'm at university, in my second year, studying Computer Engineering. But I'm not sure how this fits into my career plan... I mean it's one of the closer degrees and I'm sure it will give me an advantage when applying for airlines, however, I thought that I can finish uni, work in computing to save up enough money to pay for flying lessons to get my PPL, but, with hard work and with my dad's help I CAN get my PPL while at uni, i.e. in the next 18 months... is that the best way to do it?

I have tried searching for airline sponsorships but they all require massive security bonds, which I do not have, nor does my father have, and we do not have a property in the UK to tie against a loan, so something like that is not possible...

I've applied for the Air League Flying Scholarship (gives me 12 hours towards PPL in summer), along with their engineering scholarship (2 weeks in scotland in the summer with BA, learning about aircraft engines, construction and maintenance of aircrafts, etc) and I will also be applying for the GAPAN scholarship, however, I doubt I will be accepted due to the fact that I have NO flying experience (I've booked my first flying lesson for a few weeks ago but have had to cancel and reschedule it 6 times due to snow, so will be doing it in the next 2 weeks), and I won't be accepted because I have not been in a club like Air Cadets or anything like that, but received an invitation for it in 2006 but did not join because I thought it wasn't flying focussed due to all the other activities they ran (football, rugby, etc, which I'm horrible at).

So there's my problem.... anyone have any idea/advice on what my next steps should be?
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Old 27th Jan 2013, 11:33
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PPRuNe Handmaiden
 
Join Date: Feb 1997
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Firstly, finish your degree.
Secondly, check your eye sight is within limits for an initial Class 1 medical.
Thirdly, research the various scholarships you've applied for.
Fourth, get a job and review your (financial) situation after a year or so of working.

Last edited by redsnail; 27th Jan 2013 at 17:21.
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Old 27th Jan 2013, 12:10
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What he said.

And your research efforts so far are commendable. Well done. Keep it going. Use PPRuNe. There is a lot of good advice in the stickys at the top of the page.
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Old 27th Jan 2013, 15:03
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pjharb best of luck with your dreams.

As an instructor with the Air Training Corps it certainly isn't a club, yes they do other activities eg. sports but you don't have to join in with them (I didn't) it is mostly aviation and LEADERSHIP related. I think you missed an opportunity here but you are now too old. (mentioned to put the record straight). I agree that having NO flying or related experience is not going to help your cause with the Air League or GAPAN.

If you are following any dream there will be lots of people saying it can't be done, usually the ones closest to you. However painful this might be you must politely ignore them. Stop listening to other people and do your own research from quality sources but beware of sales bullshit and the "pilot shortage" con.

I too went into computing before my commercial licence and I urge you to stick at it. Well paid, relevant in the modern world and I have always advocated a back-up plan with aviation.

There are no proper "sponsorships" any more, money up front or bonds are NOT sponsorships, so use your computing skills to get a well paid job and follow the "modular" route (flogged to death on forums).

Go and get a class one medical at Gatwick asap, without it no commercial and glasses within certain limits are acceptable, it's the air force that is fussy about glasses.
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Old 27th Jan 2013, 15:22
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How do I go about in getting this Class 1 Medical? is there an official website? I know the cost is something like £350 but can I get it (and is it a good idea to get it) before my PPL? It lasts a year only so what if I haven't completed my PPL by then; I'd have to get a renewal? But basically if I wanted to get it right now, what steps do I take?
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Old 27th Jan 2013, 20:02
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If you go to Welcome to the UK Civil Aviation Authority and go to medical section all will be explained

The class 1 medical reverts to a class 2 medical once the year is up it even has a section with a date on it for class 2 validilty date.

Then when you need the class one valid for getting the CPL issued you just go to any AME 1 and they will renew it.

The advantage of getting it ASAP is that the intail requirements are higher than the renewal. The price of it is only going to go up. And if they do find an issue you haven;t just spent the last year and loads of money flight training when you going to have to find something else to do anyway.
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Old 27th Jan 2013, 20:09
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Ok, pop over to the UK CAA site and spend some time reading the material there for compliance.
To keep it simple.
Are you diabetic?
How's your hearing?
Are you asthmatic?
Are you colour blind? Your local optician can test that.
What's your prescription?
Here's the eye sight details.

I wouldn't spend all the cash on an initial class one when most of the "gotchas" can be determined with research online and asking your local doc/optician.
When you're ready to fly AND have already answered the above, then spend the money on the Class 1.
Note, some scholarships/sponsorships will require a Class 1 before applying.
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Old 27th Jan 2013, 20:25
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But they spend an intial fee on the class 2 as well then.

They have to get a ECG done and then a report done by a local cardiologist. Which can cost the same as doing the class one anyway.

At least when you go to gatwick you get hit for the travel costs but its all done and dusted then and the CAA cardiologost does the report as part of the fee.

A class 2 intial can be anything between 200 quid and 400.

A intial class 1 is 350 quid and everything is done and dusted on the day apart from the ECG report. And its valid as a class 2 for the same amount of time and you don't need to go near London again.
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Old 27th Jan 2013, 20:42
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get a class one from the off. i know of three twenty something all with class two who then wanted to go commercial and then failed the class one. for the sake of 150 quid its simply not worth chancing it.
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Old 27th Jan 2013, 21:03
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Also as well these days once you have been through Gatwick you only have to declare any changes to the medics. So all your childhood visits to casulty are consigned to your file and you don't get enbroiled in any crusades that the AME has going at the time.

You get some that think any concusion requires a MRI and others that a bit of dermititus needs investigated. At least at Gatwick they are pretty consistant and the doctor that does the medical is on the board that makes the call on difficult cases.

Oh and the ECG works at the CAA there have been many a pilot that has gone through a heap of tests and investigation costing a heap of money just because the AME's surgery ECG machine has dodgy wires or is an old heap of
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 08:43
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Get the class one straight away if you have even the slightest inclination to fly commercially.

As previously stated it reverts to class 2 after a year (if not renewed) so has all the same benefits as a class 2. It gets harder to pass the class 1 initial examination the older you get. The yearly renewals are less strict. You may not think this will apply to you and think: "my eyesight is great, never a problem... no problems with hearing etc...", but from experience these things slowly deteriorate over time.

I passed my class 1 with no major issues, but I think the whole thing would have been a whole lot less stressful if I'd sat the initial as a twenty-something rather than going in as I did as a thirty-something.

Best of luck!
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Old 9th Jul 2019, 16:28
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Wow.. 6 years later! If any of you are still on PPRuNe, thank you for your advice. I ended up completing my degree and working in software for the last 5 years! I tried for the BA Future Pilot Programme 2 years after posting this, back in 2015, but was not successful. I tried for AerLingus' program in 2016 but again was not successful. I pretty much gave up after that... until now. I'm just not happy working in an office, or anywhere other than an aircraft cockpit. Yesterday I applied to AerLingus' programme 3 years after the first time. Hopefully I'll make it to the assessment days again, and this time succeed. I'm 26 in 4 days, so it feels like I'm very close to being too old to make my dream come true. I have to try though, because I fear nothing else will ever make me happy.

I've just posted another thread asking for USA-based EASA PPL advice. If I don't succeed with AerLingus this summer, which is highly likely, then I'm planning to go for my PPL head on, and just go down the modular route, even if it means I reach frozen ATPL status at age 30....
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Old 9th Jul 2019, 21:17
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Good decision in sticking at something you enjoy and are obviously good at.

Don't worry about your age, I didn't start my PPL until I was 27 and didn't finish my MCC/JOC until I was 34. I still managed to get into a big UK airline at the age of 35, even having had heart surgery more than once.

Did you get your medical? Make it a priority and enjoy your training.

Good luck
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Old 9th Jul 2019, 22:36
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Join Date: Oct 2018
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at the moment I'm at university, in my second year, studying Computer Engineering
Finish your degree and get a job in computer engineering, if you still feel the need to fly hire a C152 at the weekend. You will make more money and have a better quality of life
Satoshi Nakamoto is offline  
Old 10th Jul 2019, 08:24
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Originally Posted by TryingToAvoidCBs View Post
Good decision in sticking at something you enjoy and are obviously good at.

Don't worry about your age, I didn't start my PPL until I was 27 and didn't finish my MCC/JOC until I was 34. I still managed to get into a big UK airline at the age of 35, even having had heart surgery more than once.

Did you get your medical? Make it a priority and enjoy your training.

Good luck
Thanks a lot for this.. it gives me hope. I haven't got my medical yet but I will.
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 16:10
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Originally Posted by pjharb View Post
......and just go down the modular route, even if it means I reach frozen ATPL status at age 30....
Nothing wrong with that at all! You don’t have to be fresh out of Uni to achieve your goals, and you’d still have a 30+ year flying career ahead of you 👍
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 18:05
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Red face

Originally Posted by Satoshi Nakamoto View Post
Finish your degree and get a job in computer engineering, if you still feel the need to fly hire a C152 at the weekend. You will make more money and have a better quality of life
It irritates me seeing so many responses like this. If you have this attitude you simply cannot have the drive/passion to want to fly.

"if you still feel the need to fly"- Shut up mate, flying commercially is about fulfilling a boyhood dream and living a less than ordinary life. Money is such a minimal factor within the dream of becoming a professional pilot.

pjharb Good luck to you bro!
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 18:21
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Originally Posted by AA5 Flyer View Post


Nothing wrong with that at all! You don’t have to be fresh out of Uni to achieve your goals, and you’d still have a 30+ year flying career ahead of you 👍
Thank you very much :-)
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 18:24
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Originally Posted by Arena_33 View Post
It irritates me seeing so many responses like this. If you have this attitude you simply cannot have the drive/passion to want to fly.

"if you still feel the need to fly"- Shut up mate, flying commercially is about fulfilling a boyhood dream and living a less than ordinary life. Money is such a minimal factor within the dream of becoming a professional pilot.

pjharb Good luck to you bro!
You are absolutely right. I can't begin to describe how lost I have felt the last 3 or 4 years working in IT. All I have ever wanted to be is an airline pilot. My parents even tricked me into moving to the UK by taking me to an airport to "see planes" because of how much I loved them. We got on and got off at Heathrow Airport a few hours later and my life was transformed without me seeing it coming. When I landed in 2001, age 8, I spent so much time looking up, waiting for a Concorde to pass.

I think after everything I've been through and the sacrifices my family had to make, it feels like a huge injustice if I don't become a pilot. Cheers to that!
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 19:50
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Originally Posted by Satoshi Nakamoto View Post
Finish your degree and get a job in computer engineering, if you still feel the need to fly hire a C152 at the weekend. You will make more money and have a better quality of life
Keep up, keep up!

That was 6 years ago. Since then, he's finished his degree and been working in software for the past 5 years!

... and he still wants to fly commercially. Are you taking in any of what you read?
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