Steven is our ambassador to the Airspeed Collection - he shares with us the how and why he became a pilot
Soon after I started High School, there was an announcement inviting students to a meeting about an extracurricular activity organized by the local flying club. As their members were getting older, they were trying to attract new people, and offered evening classes teaching the basics of aviation.
I was the youngest. Too young to start flying , but what they showed immediately caught my attention. So I applied, and I had the great surprise to be selected.
I attended every single course with the highest interest. During the year, the club told us they contacted some local businesses, and paired with the national association of flying clubs, they were able to offer a few scholarships.
I worked even harder. And got the scholarship!
I was still too young. I had to wait almost a year, but I eventually started flying. This Cessna 150 had been my dream for a while, and I was now sitting on the left seat.
Fast forward a few years.
This first contact with general aviation was decisive. I have decided I want to make a career out of it.
One school is my goal: the ENAC. Owned by the French state, it offers a fully paid course, where you graduate with a commercial pilot license and an instrument rating.
The selection process is tough, with about 2500 applicants for 70 positions. It took me three years, but with perseverance almost everything can be achieved, and I got in.
When I finished school, the economy was not in its best moment, our industry had been hit hard by the subprime crisis and its aftermath.
No job offers even for experienced pilots, so for newbies it was a hard time.
I became a flight instructor at the flying club where it had all started. It was not a paid job, but volunteering there allowed me to log hours, and I was happy spending my time in this place.
One thing leading to another, after a year, I became ground instructor for ATR, the aircraft manufacturer. They had a training center, and the job had two major bonuses: it included a full ATR type rating for me, and from time to time you would be used as first officer on delivery flights.
That's what allowed me to join the rank of airline pilots, and I will forever be grateful for this opportunity.
Now being qualified on an airliner, the horizon was becoming lighter.
After the end of my contract at ATR, I was hired for a six month mission in the Caribbean. That was it: I was now an airline pilot. The dream was becoming true again.
Fast forward a few years again. I have been flying the ATR in Indonesia, then in Scandinavia. And my company has good news for me: I have been chosen for a captain upgrade!
New training, new responsibilities. Renewed challenge, renewed excitement.
The first flight after the line check will forever stay in my memories. Same feeling as my very first solo flight, years ago in a Cessna 150.
Meanwhile, I had taken the Air France pilot selection as soon as they reopened it. They were not hiring, but decided to create a waiting pool for the day when the business would grow again. And six months later, I got a letter. It said I passed, and when they would have an open position, I'd be called back.
It took a few years again, but eventually they contacted me: they were hiring for the A320 fleet, and I could start as a first officer as soon as possible.
I resigned from my ATR captain position, and three months later I was in Paris signing my contract. Another moment I won't forget any time soon.
During the next two years, I flew the Airbus on the medium-haul network.
While I had known many low points for the aviation business, we were in the middle of a very high one. Quickly, I was offered a position on the long-haul fleet, on the Boeing 777.
New type rating, and a completely renewed playground: the world. In high school this was my dream, and it had become true.
It's the middle of the night. I'm on a layover in Los Angeles, jet lagged.
How did I end up here? Perseverance.
Do I regret any second of the way? Not one.
It was my dream, and I made it happen.