- Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century
I have now been a pilot for 40 years. I grew up in a family of travellers and so the world seemed just next door, exciting and there to be explored. Although school was wasted on me, once in the world I found I could learn and achieve acceptable standards. After much travelling myself, back in the UK I obtained my first pilot’s licence. It was thrilling to be able to manoeuvre a machine in three-dimensions, across the country looking at the fields, villages, towns, the sea. It all seemed such a privilege.
As a commercial pilot I experienced both beauty and the violence of nature and I respected it more and more. As a captain I learnt quickly to manage the expectations of passengers, risk assessment and economic requirements.
Flying is a wonderful template for how to live life. So much more than just the manipulation of controls, moving an aircraft through the sky. You have to be truthful to yourself. You cannot pretend there is more fuel in the tanks or the aircraft will not take off when you have overloaded it. Emotions have to be harnessed to become informers not controllers.
Whether I have been flying low level across the Sahara, approaching Greenland’s green walls or just pottering around the coastline of England I am still struck, as I was then, with the beauty of this world. No two flights are ever the same, even if flown on the same day, same route; and no matter how long I exercise the skills, there is more to learn and still the chance to improve. The challenge is still there.
And now in the latter part of my career I have become an instructor and an examiner running a flying school; putting myself in a position to criticise and help others. This has added a piquancy to the privilege of flying. Passing on experience and learning the skills of a teacher in a field I love; still work to be done and new skills to be learnt.
My life and career has not necessarily helped others, but perhaps it has given pleasure, got passengers safely and gently to their destinations, encouraged others to learn skills and if life offers them the chance to do what they feel passionate about, go for it.