How many children, when asked, say they want to be a commercial pilot when they grow up? A huge number, no doubt. The thrill of controlling a giant aircraft, negotiating strong winds, thick cloud and driving rain might be enough to have them sign up for a training programme right there and then. Not to mention the added benefits of seeing the world and the status associated with such a profession, but they won’t realise that yet.
If you have a child that thinks this is the vocation for them, how can you support their growing passion (with half an eye on flight discounts in latter years)?
Aircraft tracking live
Swap your child’s computer games for an aircraft tracking website. These are fascinating as they show all the commercial aircraft flying in a defined air space, live. Your child can watch the planes complete their journeys in real time, get to know the routes, brush up their geography. This is a great resource for those with a passion for planes.
Plenty of air shows take place around Britain, showcasing not only great aircraft, but the skill of the pilots. From spitfire fly-pasts to incredible displays by the Red Arrows, an air show could certainly fuel that flame. Your child may also be given the opportunity to speak to some pilots and ask for advice, perhaps even making contacts in the process.
Air Training Corps (ATC)
Becoming a Royal Air Force air cadet is a great way to gain experience and demonstrate passion for the job. It’s open to young people aged between 13 and 20, with members all over the country. It provides real flying experience, overseas camps, competitions, drills and all sorts of aviation-related projects.
Your child should find out what qualifications and experience is necessary to enter a pilot training scheme, so that their educational path leads them in the right direction. At the very minimum, basic GCSEs in English, maths and science are needed, plus two A levels or equivalent. Maths is preferred, as are degrees in physics, aeronautical engineering.
Pilots need to be in perfect medical health. A rigorous medical test is required of anyone before they enter a pilot training scheme, which is a point worth letting your child know about. Only those that meet physical and medical requirements, naturally, will progress to the next stage, so your child will need to maintain a decent level of health and fitness.
Becoming a pilot is not a career that can be stepped into half-heartedly, it requires determination, discipline, talent and more. However, it is a career that can be incredibly rewarding; definitely worth the effort.
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