Monday, 28 March 2011


The word everyone despises - paperwork. I think I hate the answer "it's there for a reason" even more. I'm quite used to it actually and find it bearable - just.

However, this past week I have learnt a new meaning to the word. The USA has one of the strictest boarders in the world, and rightly so. It also has one of the most strictly regulated airspaces in the world. Again - rightly so. On Friday I received all the information I would need to gain access not only to the 'land of the free' but also the skies above it.

We use the word 'paperwork' now more as a term for administration; after all we now live in the age of the internet. The first step I have to take is to apply to fly within the USA. This is focused solely online giving quick turnaround times - great! The second stage however (student visa) is somewhat more drawn out.

When the millions of people from across the world descend on Florida, and Orlando in particular every year, a significant number are usually able to take advantage of the American 'Visa Waver Programme' in force for certain countries which is usable throughout the country. This allows them to access the US for up to ninety days on business or pleasure and avoid the hours of paperwork associated with visas. A fantastic tool for encouraging both enterprise and tourism. However as I'm due to be studying in Melbourne for approximately ten months the government want to know a little bit more about my time in the sunshine.

The process now involves collating all the paperwork needed (thanks to the fantastic people working behind the scenes at the training college it's all brought together for me) and booking an interview at the US Embassy in London. This will then hopefully lead to the country offering me a US Visa for my time in America.

However before all this can take place I still have the small task of completing my medical in Dublin.

One by one I'm knocking down the barriers.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Every story has a beginning...

I suppose this is where it all starts really.

In January 2011 I attended an assessment day in Manchester. Arriving early morning at the Crowne Plaza airport hotel I eagerly awaited the start of a day that would in effect put this whole process into motion and fuel the dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot.

The day consisted of a number of exams and computer based tests to determine both ability and suitability for a role in the skies. It was also a fantastic way to get a feel of what is involved in this fast (literally) moving industry. Luckily the day went very well and by mid-afternoon I was informed of my results. These marks led to an offer from the flying college. An added bonus was that I was also put forward for the Flybe Cadet Scheme run by both the pilot college and the airline. Flybe are Europe's largest regional airline flying from a variety of UK and European airports.

Fast forward to March and after much waiting and anticipation the call finally came to invite me for an interview at their home base in Exeter. Again nerves and apprehension on the long journey down the M6 and M5. Similar to the assessment day back in January, the interview went as well as I could have possibly hoped. It was then, again, a case of playing the waiting game.

At this point I was already hoping to start my training in May whether I did or did not attain the Flybe Cadetship. It really has been systems go since receiving confirmation. Forms, uniform, medicals, visas etc. all have to be sorted before my departure date to the States. However without having certain boxes ticked I can't tick others. For example, until I have a medical I cannot gain a US visa.

Anyway, Monday 14th March 2011. 16:30. I got the call. The lovely lady at the other end of the phone confirmed that I had been offered a place on the Flybe Part-Sponsorship scheme!

So now I know I'm flying out late May I now have to wait for my medical which I'll be taking in Dublin in the next couple of weeks. That will then allow me to apply for my US visa.

Roll on Dublin...