“When I grow up, I’m going to be a pilot,” used to be the childhood dream of many young people, and even today the profession has not lost any of its fascination for many of them.
I too developed a great interest in flying as a primary school boy and have been interested in airplanes ever since. My uncle was a private pilot at that time and when he took me on a sightseeing flight in Konstanz once and I was even allowed to fly the “HOAC H36 Dimona” myself, I was finally infected by the flying virus!
While my parents were initially quite sceptical about my pilot’s goals, the future picture in me became more and more solid and my enthusiasm quickly changed into my career goal. Since then, they have always encouraged me to follow the path of my career aspirations and have supported me in all phases to fulfil this childhood dream. This is how I finally started my pilot training after completing my Matura and military service.
At this point I would like to mention that there are many ways to reach the cockpit, some of which I would like to outline briefly. Also, the possibilities of employment are not limited to the airlines only. Very interesting is also the flying service in the military or in the business aviation!
Basically, besides the affinity to aviation, suitability and capability are central points which should be clarified first. This is done either through an assessment centre of various airlines, the DLR or directly through a professional pilot school. The respective tests comprise the motor skills, knowledge of physics, mathematics and medical condition. After successful clarification, the pilot training can finally begin.
There is the option to choose the route directly through an airline or to complete the training at an accredited flight school, whereby many airlines obtain their young pilots through this route. In either case, however, the pilot training must be self-financed and this often shows the great risk that must first be taken by each candidate. There is no employment or take-over guarantee at any company and, in view of the sometimes fluctuating economic situation, one cannot always rely on getting a seat in the cockpit right away.
However, the goal is to obtain the ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot Licence) first. At that time I chose the training at the German Flight Academy. The training levels and contents are standardized and are specified by the aviation authorities. In addition to the theory in the subject matters navigation, meteorology, electrical engineering, aviation law and aerodynamics, one must also obtain a radio licence. However, the highlight of every pilot training is of course the flight training. Simulators, procedure trainers and single- and twin-engine propeller aircraft are used from then on, on which flight manoeuvres as well as flight procedures are practiced again and again. The courses take place in Europe, but in most cases the flight training is conducted in the USA, as only there the optimal weather conditions are given. Depending on the flight school, you can choose between Florida or Arizona.
After having successfully completed the individual training levels from PPL (Private Pilot Licence), CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence) to ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot Licence) within 2 years, I was finally ready to take off – as First Officer in the cockpit of a commercial aircraft. But unfortunately I finished exactly at the time when New York fell victim to a terrorist attack on 9/11. Flying almost came to a standstill and pilots were no longer wanted. I decided to do an aerobatics training as a supplement to my ATPL and thus bridged the time with gaining great experience in the aerodynamic borderline area and enjoyed it very much.
The market opened up again and I had the opportunity to enter the “total work of art” of professional aviation as a co-pilot on a private jet. From then on, I was hooked with business aviation. The same career opportunities are available here as they are in the airlines, for example. After a few years I became a Captain and was retrained to fly a medium to long range jet. Since 2010 I am a Training Captain with Premium Jet and as NPCT (Nominated Person Crew Training) responsible for the training procedures in the company. I have been flying for almost 20 years now with the same passion and enthusiasm as my uncle in the “Dimona” – only with the privilege of having made my hobby my profession.