Air League – Youth in Aviation Day 2013

This weekend, myself and my friends stayed over at Bicester Airfield with the Air League for the annual ‘Youth in Aviation Day’. This year it was better than ever, with gliding and powered flight experiences available as well as numerous displays including Lauren Richardson in her Pitts S1-S (G-BKDR) and an incredible dusk display from GliderFX.

So, first things first, if you don’t already know about the Air League, where have you been?! It is a brilliant organisation which offers flying scholarships, aviation related trips and much more! I’ve been a member for a couple of years now and it really is worth it. Bicester airfield, where the event is held each year, is an ex-RAF airfield which is now home to the Windrushers Gliding Club and a lot of un-touched WW2 hangars and buildings which are great to explore!

So, how did our weekend begin? Myself and a couple of good friends were planning on flying in from Shobdon, so bright and early the drive to the airfield began. However, after a well deserved brew and a few checks of the forecast  it soon became apparent that we would be making the journey by car.

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We loaded our flight bags and camping equipment into the boot of the Corsa and spent a couple of hours on the road before arriving at Bicester. After a quick drive through the dizzying heights of Bicester town centre, we arrived at the airfield and met up with two good friends who had also driven down earlier in the morning.

With a selection of aircraft on display, as well as a number of stands and seminars on offer, there was plenty on offer for us to do. We were soon treated to a display from Will Hilton in his SA 1100 Silence Twister ‘G-ZWIP’, and were also ‘invited’ to a seminar from CAE Oxford Aviation Academy (very useful if you’d like to speak face to face with staff/students in a more informal setting). As mentioned earlier, gliding, aerobatic gliding and powered flight experiences were available and CTC, RAF Careers, RAeS, RAeC, Aerobility, Brooklands Museum, GAPAN, plus many more organisations were also in attendance.

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After spending a few hours talking to various pilots, taking a good look around the stands, watching the displays and popping into Bicester to buy a bottle opener (in preparation for the evening, of course), we were treated to a BBQ and some model aircraft flights. A live band were also playing throughout the evening, which was topped off with a truly stunning pyrotechnic display from GliderFX. To view this, my friends and I retreated to the top of Bicesters abandoned control tower with some plastic chairs where we then stayed for a number of hours, talking aviation and enjoying a few drinks. There simply is no better way to spend a Saturday evening (on the ground, that is)!

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The rest of the night/early morning was a surreal experience and so much fun! It involved rope swings, a childs scooter, fanta, wine, a very vocal (and rather messy) french chap, dominos pizza and a couple of hilarious and bizarre incidents. As a prudent pilot, I won’t go into much more detail and let the pictures speak for themselves….

905354_10201160640477172_445176088_oA very poor picture of the stunning GliderFX display!

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How aerobatic pilots train!?!

Needless to say, it was an incredible weekend which reminded me why I fell in love with aviation in the first place. It’s not all about the airlines and, although that is of course where I aim to get to, there is a lot more flying that I want to experience in the meantime, in particular gliding and more aerobatics.

A huge thanks to my friends for making this weekend unforgettable, as well as all of those involved at The Air League who organised it all – it was an excellent weekend enjoyed by all who attended.

Over and out!

Flyer Exhibitions: Vital for aspiring Airline Pilots

I’m writing this post after yet another brilliant day spent at the Flyer Exhibition at London Heathrow. For those who do not know, Flyer Exhibitions are bi-annual events that take place at Terminal 5 (Others take place abroad in places such as Brussels and Milan) and are essential for anyone thinking about embarking on a career as a pilot. I first visited Flyer at the age of 14, and I cannot express how helpful the events have been for me.

Essentially, the event gathers together FTO’s (Flight Training Organisations), Airlines, Universities and various aviation groups, allowing you to find information on everything from training with a particular FTO or University, to bursaries and scholarships that are available, right up to information on recruitment and industry outlooks. It was here that I first had a face to face discussion with staff and cadets from CTC, Oxford Aviation Academy, BCFT, ProPilot, and many more FTO’s, and the format adopted by most allows you to speak face to face with Instructors, Students and Managers – all of which gives you an honest and well informed insight into the various training courses on offer.

Seminars from airlines, cadets, as-well as various aviation organisations are dotted throughout the day and serve as a great way to learn about such things as recruitment. This year for example, Ian Baston, Director of Flight Operations at Flybe, delivered a detailed presentation on the airline and how they recruit, as well as giving an outlook on the airlines’ future growth and on the Industry as a whole. Other seminars included a cadet talking about his experience training for West Atlantic under a scheme run in conjunction with ProPilot, a Coventry based ATPL ground-school provider. British Airways also gave a seminar on their Future Pilot Programme, and there was also an earlier seminar discussing Higher Apprenticeships.

In short, if you are trying to decide where to undergo your training and haven’t already visited a Flyer event, I can hand on heart say that you must attend one before deciding where to train. It’s from Flyer where you can get a true feel for the various organisations and the courses they offer, and most importantly, it’s a place to get all of your questions answered. From here, it is easy to arrange visits and to attend open days offered by many FTO’s (a vital step to allow you to get a feel for the facilities and the course/s on offer). I should emphasize that all methods of training are represented at Flyer; be it Integrated, Modular, Degree courses, Hour building courses or Groundschool training. It really is a great opportunity to contrast and compare the different ways that training can be done, all in one place.

Even now, when I am very close to starting my commercial training, Flyer provided an informative, reliable and enjoyable day out that allowed me to get the latest updates on training and recruitment straight from the horses mouth: the guys providing the training and the airlines recruiting.

Information on future Flyer Exhibitions can be found on the official website at http://exhibitions.flyer.co.uk/ .

Speak soon!