International Pilots Day: 26th April 2023
What got you interested in pursuing a career as a pilot?
In my hometown, we lived close to US Army barracks where they conducted open days with a flying program twice a year. I eventually began to wonder how the world would look from above, and I began to read fascinating aviation books (at that time, there was no internet or Top Gun-like movies!) and finally decided to apply for a military flying career. I have not regretted this life changing decision ever since!
What are your career highlights?
I appreciate every day in the cockpit! The nearly two decades of being a naval aviator and flying the mighty Tornado were second to none. But, becoming an instructor pilot has been an outstanding experience.
What do you like most about being a pilot?
Aviation for me is like living within a big family. There is no difference if it’s the technician preparing the aircraft for flight, your crew member or the wingman flying at a very close distance. Others trust you and you trust them. Those bonds never disappear. I like the ongoing challenges and changes. No two days are the same.
Where else do you have a chance to see the sun even on the darkest day?
What skills and qualities are important in becoming a pilot?
Besides the commonly known required prerequisites, in my opinion some really stand out:
The pilot is the last barrier in terms of flight safety when conducting a flight. Others rely on your sound judgement and decision making. This also demands a healthy self-reflective attitude. Arrogance, ignorance or complacency never pay off!
Even the best aircrew will collapse in performance at a certain point when the workload increases to an infernal level. One needs to remain predictable, avoid fixation and keep the big picture in view!
Reliability and appropriate demeanour
You will encounter situations that push you to your limits. Staying calm and solid preparation of backup-plans is vital!
Outstanding and consistent work ethic
In the flying business the pilot is an important part of a team. Being a pilot requires you to consolidate and enhance your skills constantly. When the individual improves, the entire team advances.
What advice would you give to an aspiring pilot?
Becoming and being a professional pilot, either military or commercial, is a very demanding and challenging job. Refreshing and extending your knowledge is a life-long process. There will always be upgrades in aircraft equipment and changes of regulations, rules, procedures or air structure.
Never give up and listen to advice from experienced pilots. They will share their “lessons learned“ and provide you with different techniques. Choose the ones that make sense for you and learn from other‘s experiences.
There will be good days and bad days, sometimes even worse. You have to cope with the situation, stay fully focused and move on!
What do you think you’d have done if you’d not been able to be a pilot?
I actually never wanted to pursue any other career paths and just concentrated in achieving the milestones of becoming a pilot, step by step to my best without losing sight of the goal.
Otherwise, apart from that, maybe a world-famous rockstar…