Where are they now? Nathan Cooke, Commercial Airline Pilot

I am currently a commercial airline pilot at British Airways, I was a student at Heanor Gate Science College from 2002-2007, staying on in the Sixth Form to study A-Levels until 2009. During my time in the Sixth Form I studied Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Politics. Maths and Physics were the two subjects I felt would best suit a potential career in aviation although there aren’t any specific subject requirements to become an airline pilot.

It was during my time in Sixth Form, when most of my friends were applying for university, that I began researching the various different routes into becoming an airline pilot. It soon became apparent that the most common route into aviation was an Integrated Training Program. Flight schools such as CTC Aviation and Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) offer courses taking cadets with zero flying experience to fully qualified pilots. After attending open days at both the mentioned companies I decided this was the route I was going to pursue. To get accepted into the flight schools you first have to successfully get through one of their selection processes. These usually involve Maths, aptitude, memory, multi-tasking and coordination tests as well as various group exercises and an interview.

I successfully applied to CTC and began my flight training in 2009 when most of my friends started university. The training comprised of 6 months ground school and 14 exams in the UK. This was subsequently followed by 10 months in New Zealand where I did the majority of the flying. There was a small of amount of flying back in the UK before being issued with a Commercial Pilots Licence.

Shortly after completing my flight training I was offered my first airline job at EasyJet. I spent 5 years at EasyJet gaining valuable flying experience as well as building my flying hours. Once I had gained the necessary experience I applied for a long haul position at British Airways which is where I find myself today.

My advice to anyone considering a career in aviation is to go and visit the flying schools, their open days are extremely useful and provide all the information required to make an informed decision.

Nathan Cooke, Commercial Airline Pilot