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Flying vs Racing - Ryan Savage

Date: 4 September 2018

Can the skills learned in motor racing be applied to piloting?

Hello! My Name is Ryan Savage I am 21 years old and currently at Ground School in Coventry, where I have just finished my first set of EASA ATPL exams.

I was working towards my A-Levels when I realized I wanted to become a pilot – before this I was unsure of what I wanted to do once I finished school. For my birthday, I was given a flight experience and this ignited my passion for aviation. After a few years of research, during which I even visiting the Airline Academy in New Zealand, I found the school which would give me the best chances of becoming a great commercial pilot and signed up.


I have been lucky enough to meet current pilots who have given me great advice and always answered my questions about the profession, the industry and how to get there. However, unlike a lot of people, I actually met these pilots whilst I was racing.


I started racing when I was 12, influenced by my father who was also racing at the time. I went from racing go-karts to a Lotus Elise to a Lotus 211 GT4 and even to racing in the prestigious Dubai 24 Hours in 2017 (oh and of course the 2CV 24 Hour race… along with test days in various GT/Formula cars!). I was even fortunate enough to race against my Dad – which I won! After I finish my training and have my dream job, I will definitely be returning to racing.



From starting I’ve always thought that the skills I developed/learnt during my time racing could be put to good use when flying. For example, both flying and racing involve being part of a team and working together to achieve a shared goal – and here communication is key. When racing, I have found the more I communicate with our team, the more likely we are to achieve those goals. I believe it will be the same in cockpit as a pilot.


You have to constantly be talking to the team on the radio, make decisions based on the information they give you and communicate feedback about the car. Driving a race car also requires you to have amazing hand-eye coordination, think and make the right decisions quickly whilst being under pressure, and multitasking. All of these I believe are qualities that I have learnt from racing that can apply to becoming a pilot.



Also the motorsport training I had to do is similar to what I have done so far in pilot training. We did a lot of work on racing simulators, which really helped me when it came to familiarising myself with the G1000 glass cockpit which as part of the course is done on a simulator. I imagine that being accustomed to this environment from my racing days will help me when it comes to doing my MCC/AQC and type rating.


How much will my racing experience help me in the world of piloting? Honestly, I don’t know – but I can’t wait to find out. Check back here for more blogs where I’ll let you know.

For now, I have chosen to pursue a career as a pilot but I will return to racing once I have secured my dream job with the airlines, but for now I have had to put aside racing. My advice for those who are torn between choosing two different passions is to choose the one that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. Choose a career which you will enjoy waking up at 3am to do! I could never see myself sitting behind a desk all day (sorry Dad!). If you are unsure if the pilot life is for you, then make sure you go for a trial flight at your local aerodrome to see what you think – and if you’re like me, you will know pretty quickly!

- Ryan