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My Story

Old 26th Jan 2015, 21:59
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Earth
Posts: 23
My Story

Why am I writing this, well I don't really know. Maybe to help people either thinking about training, currently training or finished. Maybe because there is no one in my close friends and family that has an interest in aviation so I have no one to talk to or share my experience with. I just want to share my story so I hope you enjoy it.

Where it all started.

Back when I was 8 years old I went on my first holiday abroad, destination Menorca. It was my first time on a plane and I was amazed by the sheer size, the ferocious power of being pushed back into my seat as we took off and looking down on Earth out of my window. I was even allowed up to the cockpit and was amazed by the lights, buttons and switches, so much so I barely even noticed the pilots. That was it, I was hooked.
I finished school a month after my 17th birthday, I had never even lived away from home so I knew I was much too young to even consider pilot training so I decided to go to college. I'm glad I did as I met some great people and had the time of my life there. I grew up a lot in college and I believe it helped me prepare for what I had been waiting to do for so long. Fly a plane.I went about my search for an FTO and chose one which I felt was right for me and I was ready to start my training


My first day in training and I was a mixed bag of nerves, excitement, fear and anticipation as to what was to come. PPL training, the first step. I was sent with my class to the State's to start flying. I still remember my very first lesson, it went well for the most part and not a bad start I taught to myself. I was looking forward to my future lessons, some were good and some not so good but that was to be expected. My first solo was a huge milestone, looking to my right hand side and no one sitting there as I was in full control was amazing. Fast forward to my PPL check flight. I was quite calm that day surprisingly, I had a good flight and handled everything well. I passed, I couldn't believe it. I had a pilot's licence. We where flown home that Christmas and I had a great time celebrating my achievement. But January was only around the corner and with it came the ATPL's.
I was on a distance learning course for my ATPL's and I'll be honest, I struggled. I was never brilliant academically, I was always better with practical things. I heard some guys in my class saying they were using an online question bank, I asked what it was and was told it was the entire question bank online, pay a fee and you are granted access to the entire question bank. I taught there is no way that's true so I carried on with my studies as was outlined on the course. We got a schedule of what to do and study each day so I stuck to that.

The first 7 exams came and I felt ready. I wasn't, I failed 4. I was devastated so I decided to give the question bank a go. I would study as was outlined and then test myself on the online question bank. It was working, my results were improving.

But then, 2 weeks before I was to sit my next 7 exams, a Sunday morning I will never forget. I woke early and I instantly knew something wasn't quite right. I made my way to the bathroom and I could hear my mother crying, whats going on I taught to myself. I went back to bed and waited for my parents to get up to ask. After about 10 minutes or so, my dad knocked on my door and came in. “Are you awake?” he asked. I said yes. He sat on the edge of my bed and looked at me. “There's no easy way to say this but I'm afraid Oisín is dead, he committed suicide last night.” (Oisín was my first cousin, we lived next door to each other for 19 years before I moved and he was the only other person I knew that had an interest in flying) I was in total shock and disbelief. The next few days went by in a haze. I had been to funerals before but never one like this. This was horrible. The lowest point in my life of pure grief. Once everything was over, I tried to get my mind back onto my exams but it was difficult. I decided to go ahead and sit my exams but looking back now, I know that was a mistake. I failed another 3
7 done, 7 to go, this time I was determined. I worked my ass off for the next 3 months and when it came to exam time I knew I was ready. I felt confident after everyone of them and when I got my results I was expecting 7 passes but I was wrong, only 6, ******* performance. Of all the exams, that was the one I was most confident about but I had failed it again. That was a real low point in my training. I took me a while to get over that but I did. I went back to repeat it and finally got the pass. At last, the ATPL's where done.

I was sent on the next plane back to the State's for my hours building. This I have to say was the most enjoyable part of my training, even if I was eating up every hour I could possibly find as I felt I was playing catch up in my training now. Most of my class where already completing their CPL. I became a better pilot in my hours building I believe, having to navigate your way around a foreign country and managing fuel, ATC, weather etc. It felt like the real deal. I even had a few scares along the way. An alternator failure one day, comms failure another, but with no one else to rely on I had to rely on my training and I did. I completed my hours building and moved on to my CPL training. The end was near.

I started my CPL training back home. I remember the first time sitting in a twin engine and looking at all the dials and being overwhelmed. In the State's we where flying the most basic of planes. Every plane identical. The one's back home where all different in little ways but still when your not used to it, it can be daunting.

I flew through the CPL course and with the flight test only around the corner I was imaging life as an airline pilot, but I was to be tested again. This time with chest pains, what could it be I wondered, they would come, last a couple of minutes and then go. I put it down to stress and taught no more about it until I had a Monday off and decided to go home for the 3 days as the school was closed on weekends. My mother advised me since I was off anyhow to go to a doctor and see whats up, so I booked an appointment and off I went. Once he examined me he advised me to go for an X-ray just in case. I remember sitting up in the hospital bed after having my X-ray wondering what was taking so long before I noticed my doctor clipping my X-ray to the board. He examined it thoroughly before calling over another doctor. I knew this wasn't good. He came into me and explained, “we believe you have a phneuthormax”. I said “a what?”
“It is a small blister on your lung that is letting air out of your lung as you breath, the air outside your lung is preventing your lung from expanding thus, 30% of your lung has virtually collapsed”. He explained it so calmly and all I could think of was that I was supposed to be doing my mock CPL flight this week. They performed several operations on me that day all without success before they shoved a giant metal tube into my side, just below my armpit to release the air while I was awake. I will never forget the pain. I must have screamed that hospital down.

My medical was suspended. It was mid January and then followed weeks of letters to and from the medical department trying to find out what I could do to get it back. Eventually they said I would need another operation to make sure it doesn't happen again. I agreed, but this time I was asleep, thankfully. Once completed, more letters, why she couldn't use email I still don't know. Eventually, I was cleared to fly again. It was now June, almost half a year since my last flight. I got back to my school, completed my final lesson, the mock flight test and at last I was able to apply for the flight test. It wasn't my best flight but I passed, just about.

Instrument rating time. Some say the most challenging but I really enjoyed it. I was well behind my class now, in fact some of them already had jobs. I was so jealous but I got my head down and worked hard. It paid off, I sailed through my lessons and I had the finishing line in sight. I had one lesson left but another bump in the road, I had a disaster lesson, from start to finish I was flying like I never sat in a plane before. I couldn't understand it. My instructor insisted I do another before I do my mock so I agreed. It was just as bad. I didn't know what was wrong. My confidence took a nose dive and I sat at home all that night on flight sim practicing. I got in the plane the next day and there was a big improvement. I was signed off for the flight test.
I got up early the next day and was enjoying a bowl of coco pops when my phone rang. Who the hell is ringing at this time I taught. It was the CFI. He told me a slot had opened up and I could take it as another student due to have his mock cancelled again. 'Yeah sure, what time is it for?' I muttered. 'Now' he replied. I jumped into the car and drove down to the airport. I had never flown with him before and was quite nervous considering my last few lessons. I had nothing to worry about. I breezed through it and he told me afterwards it was one of the best he has ever seen. I went back to my house with a smile from ear to ear. One flight left and I was finished. I was so close. A few days passed before I got a call from my examiner. We agreed a date and I set about my preparations. The weather rolled in and I had to rearrange, curse my luck.

The morning arrived and I was up early. I got down to the airport to prepare. This is it. My final flight here. Once we landed I taught it went very well but he said nothing. We parked the plane, got our things together and walked back to the school. I tried to make some small talk but he was having none of it. We found an empty room and he went through the flight with a fine tooth comb. At the end he finally put me out of my misery. “Congratulations, you passed”. Relief flew through my body. I ran outside and rang my dad, “I GOT IT” I roared down the phone. Back at the house I got my things together and headed for home the happiest man in all of the land.

The MCC was amazing. Getting to fly a jet, albeit a simulated one. I loved every second of it and I couldn't wait to do it for real.

I never knew filling out applications could be so long and tedious. I applied to everyone but I knew there was only one I stood a reasonable chance with. Ryanair. Months went by and nothing. Finally, in the last week in March, I got a phone call and I had an interview. My mother phoned what felt like half the country to tell them the good news. The morning of the interview and I was so nervous, I knew it all came down to this. We got paired off and they told us what to expect from the day. Interview first, then a sim. I walked into my interview confident. I done all I was told to, eye contact, handshakes etc. HR questions came first, then the technical stuff. “You failed performance twice,why?” he asked straight off. ****, what do I say to that. I muttered something. Can't remember what exactly. “OK, lets see how good you know your performance then”. He asked me something and I didn't know the answer. Panic went through my body. The rest of the interview went well but I knew I was playing catch up. Straight after I rang a friend of mine working for an airline and asked him the question. “I don't know ****” was his response. “What the hell is that?” he asked again. Next came the sim and I couldn't have done better if I was flying all my life, it was almost perfect. I made up for my earlier blunder, or so I taught. Every day that went by after that with no phone call I became less and less confident until I finally got an email. Thanks but no thanks. ****, what now.

I'm not joking when I said I emailed every airline in Europe, everyday after work I would apply to 10 or 20 of them and nothing. I even sent my CV in the post, one airline actually sent it back to me. That was a kick in the teeth. Instead of throwing it in the bin they paid for a stamp to give it back to me.
I even wrote a letter and sent it to Mr. O'Leary, he was good enough to reply but explained there was nothing he could do for me. In the meantime I had renewed my license, coincidentally getting the same examiner as my initial IR flight test. I managed to get an interview with Flair jet in Oxford. Yes, a second chance. I was nervous because it was over two years after i had completed my training and I had had to renew again. The interview went fine, not brilliant but better than Ryanair. I was asked had I any questions. I had some prepared but we had already covered them in the interview but I was always told to ask something after the interview so I had to think on the spot. I asked one or two and then came the kicker. I asked “What can I expect?” The words where barely out of my mouth when i was asking myself “what are you doing you idiot”? What a ridiculous question. I kicked myself the whole way home and it was no surprise that I didn't get it.

Everyone I meet in the street ask the same questions, “are you still doing the flying?” or the one that gets me the most, “have you tried applying to Aer Lingus?”. So many times I have answered this question and every time I wanted to shout at them, “Jesus you know, I never taught of them, thanks for reminding me of Irelands national airline, I'll ring Muller up right now”, but I just have to bite my lip and give them the usual, “yeah, but nothing came of it” every time swearing to punch the next person in the face that asks me.

Another few years has gone by and no more interviews.
It has come a time now where I have had to decide what to do. My decision is to call it a day. I don't think I have the mental strenght to continue. It has become too expensive for me to pursue a dream in the airline industry and I have to get on with my life. Working dead end jobs to keep myself current feels like I'm going nowhere. I have decided to put that money aside and concentrate on getting myself back to college and get a degree. Maybe it will work out, maybe not, who knows.

Maybe I could have done things differently along the way and maybe things would have been different. I believe every ones decisions are half chance anyway. It paid off for some and not for others, that's the luck of the game. Do I regret doing my training? With no job and a pile of debt the obvious answer is yes but really no I don't, it was an unbelievable experience and anyone who did get the golden ticket of a job I wish you every success. Would I do it again? Now there's a question. Physically, yes. Mentally, no.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I still don't know why I wrote this or even posted it. I'm not looking for advice. Just sharing my story.

Adios amigos.
Cherrypickers is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2015, 22:31
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: The moon
Posts: 68
Fair play for posting all of that, you'd a bumpy road to get to where you are now. Do you mind me asking, what age are you? It might be worth persisting for another while it you have age on your side.
Whiskey Hotel is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2015, 23:07
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: EU
Posts: 475
Interesting and personal read.

I am sure you have your own plans but my immediate thought would be that if you don't have some other work immediately lined up, try to get into dispatching or something like that or working in operations for a charter company etc. Maybe you are done with the industry completely and fair enough if you are, but that might be one way to earn some money while you work out what you want to do for the rest of your life, which yields a very small chance of letting your dream progress.
OhNoCB is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2015, 23:42
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Earth
Posts: 27
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Your journey has been very eventful but all I can say is no matter how demoralising it is, Plz don't give up! You still stand a chance!
sspencer1248 is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2015, 00:12
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Celestial Sphere
Posts: 8
Very interesting and rightfully stated above very "eventful".
There is a saying. "One who is not courages to take risk in life accomplishes nothing in life. If you keep trying eventually you can get there. But the key is keep trying. As much as your story is demoralising for perspective pilots only because you decided to give up after trying for many years but we should all still die trying. Don't give up. Its just not going to be fair on you!!!
wings_atpl is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2015, 07:43
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: TOD
Posts: 1,220
Good on you for your honesty and for taking the time to share your experience. It is so important that prospective trainees see and acknowledge that the glossy training brochure airbus RHS future is FAR from a certainty.
speedrestriction is online now  
Old 27th Jan 2015, 08:14
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Now on Earth
Posts: 47
That was a very touching passage of text mate & I'm glad you shared your journey with like-minded strangers. Must admit life dealt you some serious hardships that sadly coincided with significant points in your flight training timeline. I seriously hope you get something somewhere as you seem like you hail from a humble/modest background. Good luck on whatever path you chose to meander down but to echo the others DON'T GIVE UP, you've come this far, surely there must be some way of trying to get that foot in the door. I used to think like that was of a mindset that 'the past left a scar and the future is looking fatal'. Perseverance, patience & drive kept me grafting away & thankfully I'm due to get my comeuppance accordingly. Hopefully lady luck decides to give you the time of day mate

Last edited by Exiled Martian; 27th Jan 2015 at 09:24.
Exiled Martian is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2015, 17:54
  #8 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Earth
Posts: 23
Thank you all for your replies. I really appreciate it. I had no idea what sort of response this would get.

To answer a few questions, I'm 27 now, I was 21 when I finished my training. I know I'm still young, but my training feels like it was now a lifetime ago.
I always said if I made it to 30 and I had nothing then I would call it a day. With going to college this September, I will be graduating by the time I reach 30, fingers crossed.

In regards to not giving up, I can understand that, but if I was to get current again, start applying for jobs and another year or two goes by with nothing, that would be hard to take. I think my best bet is to get a degree, seems like less of a gamble.

I'm glad you enjoyed my story and I hope it doesn't put anyone off flight training. Just because I was unsuccessful, doesn't mean you will.
Cherrypickers is offline  

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