|Posted on February 23, 2014 at 9:40 AM|
No obvious career path in mind?
Here is an insight into life as a British Airways pilot as an avenue to consider!
Written by Lottie Crawley
As we all do our best to put our heads down and work hard towards exams that will ultimately gain us entry into University and help guide us into our chosen careers, it strikes me that for some of us, myself included, the most difficult decision of all at this time in our lives, is to decide which degree course to apply for. Without an obvious end career goal in mind, it is sometimes difficult to find inspiration. This dilemma has led me to consider what the future might hold for me, and in doing so, to consider a variety of career options.
With this in mind, I thought it would be both insightful and interesting to dip into the life of someone who is successful and fulfilled in the path they have taken and to find out how she got there, and what life is like now that her ultimate goal has been reached.
I have chosen to look at the daily life of, Kate Laidler, one of British Airways’ busy pilots, based at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Last December I was given the opportunity to interview Kate and ask her a number of questions about her career.
Kate currently flies the Airbus 320 aircraft family with each aircraft seating between 180-220 passengers per flight. A ‘family’ of aircraft, such as the ‘Airbus 320’, means that there are several versions of the same type. With the ‘A319’ being one of the smallest, a midsize ‘A320’ and the larger ‘A321’, Kate operates various models. These aircraft are perfect for short haul flying, mostly around Europe.
Interestingly, Kate obtained three A Levels: Business Studies, French and Physical Education. She went on to achieve a BA (hons) degree in Sports Studies, but points out that a degree is not mandatory for someone pursing her profession.
Following her studies at school and University, she went on to train as a pilot. I thought it would be interesting to ask her what it was that first attracted her to flying. Being given an experience flight for her birthday played a big part in her initial attraction to the career, she responded. When Kate was growing up, her father had always advised her to choose between two professions, saying “be a doctor, be a pilot”. Ignoring medicine as her alternative, Kate began to look into the requirements for becoming a pilot. Starting her investigations by looking into a career in the RAF, Kate joined the RAF reserves whilst at University, gaining fantastic flying experience in her spare time.
Once Kate began her ‘Commercial Pilot training’, it took a total of eighteen months to complete, six of which she spent attending ground school, the other six performing basic flight training abroad. Having completed this training, Kate returned to the UK to finalise her studies.
I asked Kate to tell me about a typical day for her. She was quick to tell me that there is never a set pattern to her days. One day she might go into work, fly to a destination and straight back again that same day. London Heathrow to Barcelona and back again is a typical example of this immediate turnaround.
On another day, the job may leave her away from home for up to five days at a time. She describes her job as extremely varied and great fun, “I could have breakfast in Paris and be home for dinner! It is brilliant and that is just flying short haul!”
We also discussed her favourite European destinations…
“Paris for the bakeries!” she laughs.
“Geneva for the beautiful lake and the views from the air!” she remarks.
“And Rome! We stay right by the Pantheon, it is just incredible!” she says.
I then progressed to her plans for the future and asked her how she would like her career to develop, ideally. She explained that she would like to try long haul flying and to gain her command (to become a captain). She specified that it would take a lot of hours and experience to get to such a stage and might be a while before she achieves this!
Finally, I asked Kate about other career paths she considered on her journey to becoming a pilot. She explained that she had been open to becoming a PE teacher, having always been passionate about sport.
I am grateful to Kate for spending so much time talking to me; she has certainly given me food for thought about my future!