From helicopters to flying A320s

From helicopters to flying A320s

Currently operating on the Airbus A320 out of London, being in the front seat of a big shiny jet was not necessarily always my goal, but for the time being It’s a very privileged place to be.

I’ll skip over my youth as it’s too cliché in terms of always wanting to be a pilot and obsessing over anything aviation related. The fun stuff starts around age 16 when I started getting helicopter lessons. Helicopters were definitely the aircraft I was most passionate about. Stop, go, up, down, left, right, land where you want, take-off where you want…. What is there not to love?!

 I worked multiple jobs around my school hours to build money for a helicopter PPL, which I ended up doing in the USA as the price difference in training was quite substantial. I chose a small family run school with just 2 helicopters over the large corporate training gigs there, and certainly didn’t regret it. Cruising down the beach at 500ft with an instructor, spotting sharks and stingrays was great, but the feeling of taking off on my first XC trip, bombing over the Coast by myself was something I’ll never forget.

I still keep in contact with my instructor now and this was 7 years ago. Aviation is definitely a community.

The plan had been to join the RAF the year after, however they weren’t recruiting and helicopter jobs were few and far between. This took me onto the next chapter – the decision to take on a loan that’s too big to think about, and put myself through a flight school to come out the other side as an Airline Pilot.

The highlight of this near 2-year period was definitely getting to live in New Zealand for 6 months. Not only live there, but be given a Cessna and a licence to go and explore the beautiful country in it. The scenery was as breath-taking as you’d expect but the highlight for me was slightly bending the company rules and formation flying with a friend across to Rotorua. Cruising over mountains and lakes with one of your best friends a few meters off your left wingtip is something very special indeed.

From there it was straight into the right-hand seat of the 320 aged 21. Operating out of London and flying passengers all round Europe. The job is great but maybe felt like growing up all a bit too soon.... This job revolves around system & people management rather than raw flying skill and excitement. Safety really is our no1 priority which leaves little room for adventurous flying.

Although the piloting thrills are few and far between in a low-cost Airline operation, the responsibility feels great and the technology at our disposal is magnificent. To think that in just over 100 years we’ve come from not being able to get airborne, to flying aircraft capable of conducting full Autolands is quite something.

It’s a very privileged position to be in and one I certainly don’t take for granted, especially during times like these. I’m looking forward to seeing how aviation transforms over the next decade. Although I have a rough plan of how I’d like the next part of my life to pan out, I’m very open to new aviation adventures and ideas.  

If anyone has any questions/feedback, or if there are any budding pilots out there who’s bright career outlook may have unfortunately taken a turn with the industry being ransacked by COVID – Please don’t hesitate to contact me through my Instagram and we can have a chat.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed,

Tod :)


We would like to thank Tod for sharing his story and the experience he offers. You can find him on Instagram @todthepilot

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