Our Pilot Cadets Take Flight
Our Virgin Australia Pilot Cadetship Program is currently open for applications, so we sat down with two of our most recent graduates, James and Brendan.
We asked them a couple of questions about the program and what it means to become a Virgin Australia Flight Crew member. Here’s what they had to say…
What inspired you to apply for the Pilot Cadetship Program?
James: My interest in aviation stems from having grown up next to Sydney Airport at a very young age, watching aircraft fly overhead. My parents noted my interest, so they started buying books and aircraft models. Then, it just continued to snowball. I went on my first gliding lesson at age 14 and I was hooked - I definitely knew that I wanted to fly as a career. Working for Virgin Australia as a baggage handler was a great foothold into the industry and allowed me to be able to save money for flying lessons. When the opportunity for the Pilot Cadetship came up, I thought it would be the perfect avenue to achieve my dream so I gave it a crack and luckily enough it worked out!
Brendan: I was working as a flight instructor, but my goal was always to fly at an airline level. My sister is actually already a Virgin Australia Pilot and has had nothing but good things to say about the company, so when I heard that they were offering an Advanced Cadetship I applied straight away!
Throughout the training, what has been the most challenging aspect for you personally and why?
James: Constantly being assessed – whether it's theory or a flight test, both are quite challenging. However, with that challenge comes great satisfaction from the sense of achievement when you pass, and that's one of the great things about this career. There’s always room for self-improvement and something new to learn.
Brendan: The most challenging part of the training (other than the flight planning exam) was the transition from VFR to IFR flying (VFR and IFR stand for different types of FAA pilot guidelines, that aviators must follow when flying). I think that this will be an ongoing challenge in the short term, but it's a great chance to prove that I can be successful and continually push myself.
What did you find was the most exciting part of your training?
James: Going solo was one of the most incredible experiences that I have ever had. Just looking over your shoulder and having no instructor there and realising that it's just you and the aircraft and there is a job to do with nobody to help you - it was quite surreal. I don't think many things can top that. I feel incredibly humbled to have had the opportunity to do something like that.
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Given you’re just about to graduate from the program, what are you most looking forward to once you are officially an operating flight crew member for Virgin Australia?
James: Learning about the complexities of an airline and its day-to-day operation is something that I really look forward to. The most important aspect of flying is safety, so I think the constant problem solving will keep things interesting, as I’ll be continuously learning and being challenged. Working in a multi crew operation as a First Officer will give plenty of opportunity to work as a team, to use our knowledge and apply it to a practical scenario - whether it's dealing with intense weather systems, a technical fault or a medical issue. Of course, there's the view too… It beats being in an office, that's for sure!
Brendan: I’m most looking forward to being able to perform some really good landings in the ATR72 aircraft. That’s the part of the flight I think your passengers will judge you on the most as a pilot. I’m also looking forward to having friends and family on-board at some stage.
If you could share one piece of advice with aspiring pilots that have not applied, what would it be?
James: You don't have to be the smartest person in the world – more importantly, as clichéd as it sounds, is to have a good attitude and persevere. I personally had some setbacks that I encountered in trying to achieve my goals, and being able to push through the hurdles whilst remaining humble and positive is definitely a trait that will take you a long way and things will eventually work out. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there thinking they might not get into this program, given the amount of applicants who apply – I was one of them. However, you will never find out without trying, so if you're passionate and interested, definitely give it a go.
Brendan: Advice for aspiring pilots – be yourself and work towards your own goals. Don’t compare your progress to everyone else, the only career that should matter to you is YOUR OWN.
For more information on the Virgin Australia Pilot Cadetship including FAQs and how to apply, please visit our website here.