Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Share Your Story: Chris Buckley, easyJet Cadet Pilot

Welcome to the 21st "Share Your Story" post. Pilots from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show future aviators the diverse range of careers available to them. More details + how to participate can be found via the following: Click Here and Get Involved
You know, it’s funny how things work out...

I wasn’t born into an ‘aviation’ family, and it wasn’t until seeing the British Airways Concorde fly overhead in 2001 that I even thought about the possibility of becoming a Pilot. As a child, I had always been interested in planes and was fascinated by the light aircraft that flew over our house (I also remember my favourite toy was a United Airlines 747!) but after seeing Concorde, I became even more interested in the wider world of aviation. Fast-forward to 2005, and whilst studying at secondary school I began to realise that I could make a career out of my passion. From that point onwards, I was set on a career in aviation.  I was always reading books and watching shows about flying, as well as researching the different methods of flight training. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that I even set foot on an aircraft (a Thomson 757 to be precise), but after that flight I was sure that this is what I wanted to do. Flying over the alps at sunrise followed by the breath-taking approach into Innsbruck airport, who could say no to that?!

 ‘Flying into Innsbruck, January 2009’

After that flight to Austria I was hooked and desperate to get flying, but after looking into flight training it was obvious I faced a big hurdle; like many, the costs of flight training were just too huge. Thankfully for Christmas that year, my parents bought me a trial flying lesson at my local airfield (the ex-RAF airfield, Sleap Aerodrome) and exactly one month later my parents, my Granddad and I made the trip there where I flew an aircraft for the very first time. It was a brilliant day, and one that I will never forget!  I flew with an instructor for one hour in a Cessna 152 around the local area and, after landing, I instantly wanted to fly again! To my surprise, my Granddad bought me a few further lessons beginning in the summer (after I had finished Secondary School), but after that it was down to me to fund my flying.  I soon looked at getting a job and, although it took several months, I managed to get a position at a new supermarket opening in our local town. Little did I know that I would work there for over two years, make friends for life, enhance my confidence and interpersonal skills and gain the experience and ‘people skills’ required for a career in aviation. However, the most immediate tool my job gave me were the funds to allow me to buy a flying lesson twice a month. I had a brilliant instructor and by March 2011, at the age of 16, I flew my first solo in G-BNKS a full sixteen months before I could even start to learn to drive. As any pilot will tell you, the day of your first solo is one that you will never forget!

Read more by clicking below to see what Chris will be doing with EasyJet

 ‘Myself and my instructor after a dual Navigation flight in G-BNKS’

Over the next couple of years, my Mother, Granddad and I would drive to the airfield on Tuesday mornings (usually twice a month) where I would have a flying lesson. After finishing my lesson, I would then have to try to get into college on time! I usually made it, but sometimes I did show up a few minutes late. Thankfully, I had a brilliant teacher who was very supportive of and interested in my passion. I continued working and flying whilst studying full time at college where I had chosen to study Maths, Physics, Product Design and Music. Maths had never come naturally to me and I found A-level maths extremely challenging, but last year I passed all of my subjects and got the grades that I wanted. Now, it was time to decide where to go with my flight training: Integrated? Modular? MPL? ATPL? University? The choices seemed endless, and very confusing! Earlier in the year, I had flown my solo cross country flight for my PPL and was very close to gaining my license. However, I started to look down the route of Integrated training and paused my private flying for a couple of months to cover the costs of assessment and finalise my route.

 On July 4th last year, I was accepted onto an Integrated scheme and immediately looked into how I could go about funding the course. Fortunately, I was able to secure funding, but the risk of having to pay extra for a type rating was too high and was simply something I could not afford, so I opted to delay until February 2013 which allowed me to assess my options. In that time, I looked into a few different FTO’s following the modular route, narrowed down a few university options, and applied for a few airline schemes. I continued to fly once a month, and also had the opportunity for some fantastic flights with some friends over at another airfield, including an aerobatics flight in an extra 200 and a couple of cross country flights. The below video is of a flight my friend and I made to Coventry to visit a Groundshool Provider – it was a fantastic flight in some amazing weather! Unfortunately, soon after this my Granddad fell ill and I ultimately delayed my course start date to June in order to be at home.  I carried on working and continued flying as often as I could, but I was growing ever more mindful of the delays to my flight training.

After visiting the well known UK Flyer Exhibition in April, I came home refreshed and was very happy to learn of a number of opportunities that would soon become available, namely the easyJet Cadet Pilot Programme. I put in an application to CTC Aviation, and was delighted to be put forward for Stages 2 and 3 of the assessment process at the company headquarters in Southampton. Following a day of aptitude tests, maths tests, group exercises and interviews, I was told the incredible news that I would be heading to the easyJet academy in Luton for the final phase of assessment. That assessment followed just two weeks later and, after an anxious wait, I received a phone call from CTC (whilst I was on the way to work) and was delivered the good news – I’d passed! I was ecstatic and it took a few weeks to really sink in, but now I am just a couple of weeks away from starting my course. My pre-course study and all admin has been completed, and I am most definitely ready and raring to go. To train specifically for easyJet is a dream come true, and I look forward to training and flying for one of the worlds most renowned and successful low cost airlines.

Cessna 152 Flight - Shobdon to Conventry

‘ An easyJet A320 taking off from Innsbruck’

So, as I was saying, it is funny how things work out. From having zero flight experience just four years ago, I am now at the start of an incredible journey and I have many people to thank: The staff and instructors at my local airfield, my friends and family and the teams at the various Flight Training Organisations I have dealt with (in particular the team at CTC Aviation). Most importantly, I have my Granddad to thank who unfortunately passed away whilst I was applying for the easyJet scheme. Without him, I simply would not be where I am today.

-easyJet Commercial: Where are you going? 
Can't wait to see where you'll go with easyJet Chris!

I will be continuing my story over at where I also hope to inspire others with guest blogs and career advice. It’s really important to me that I not only ‘Share the view’, but that I help inspire and inform others who are interested in a career, or perhaps just a hobby, in the wonderful world of Aviation.

Big thanks to Swayne for asking me to write a guest blog! Keep up the fantastic work here on your blog!

Thank you for reading.
Christopher Buckley


Thank you so much Chris for writing in and sharing your story. I'm so happy that you got accepted into the easyJet program! That's simply amazing! You'll have to write back in once your training begins and let us know how it goes!

I can't wait to see where you'll be flying with the easyJet over the coming years. The A320 class aircraft are incredible, I know you'll love it!

Thanks again for writing in and participating in the Share Your Story section of the blog, 

Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting to read this. I just got my PPL and I'm hour building at the moment. I learnt to fly at my local flying club, and will hour build there. The challenge with aviation is trying to find the money to spend on building flying time and getting the next rating etc. Just got to keep working at it!


Thanks for your comment; I really appreciate it! Glad you are here with me on the blog. If your comment does not appear right away, it will after verification.

Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin