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Keeping the Dream Alive – Olly Sartain-Berry

Date: 19 July 2018

My name is Olly Sartain-Berry and I started my pilot training with L3 in August 2016, at 27 years old.

My boyhood dream was always to become a pilot, but limited financial options around the time I finished my A-levels meant that I had to postpone my ambition to fly, and find another way into aviation.
I worked in a few jobs in order to build experience that I would one day come to rely on at an interview with an airline, the most notable of which was with the Fire Service.


Although I was very disheartened at the time with meandering my way to becoming a pilot, venturing into the world of work helped me to develop many valuable skills and grounded me emotionally. With hindsight, I’m very glad that I wasn’t able to start flight training straight out of school. 


With a family to provide for, resigning from the security of an established career would be, at best, a risky move. But, as an older candidate with a solid work history, I was finally able to explore loan facilities that were unavailable to me in the past. Despite the potentially huge academic and financial challenge ahead, I was determined to succeed and so I dived straight in.
My training with L3 went well - I knuckled down and commenced and completed each phase of my training as planned. As is inevitable with any course of twenty trainees spanning nineteen months, some challenges arose periodically which required out-of-the-box thinking and a small dose of adaptation. And adapt we did! I finished my training on time, with a frozen ATPL, a job, some amazing friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
Now I can finally say that I have achieved my boyhood aspiration to become an airline pilot. My new home: British Airways. I simply couldn’t describe how elated and privileged I feel to have been given the opportunity of a lifetime by one of the world’s most revered and recognisable airlines. Truly a dream come true.
My advice to anyone who dreams of one day becoming a pilot is simple: treat financial and academic challenges as mere problems to solve, and not as life-long barriers. While some only dream about flying and do nothing to solve short-term hurdles to get there, others are doing everything they can to rationalise and overcome their barriers and turn their dreams into reality.


There are many ways into aviation and one of them will be perfect for you: some routes are self-funded while others are airline-sponsored; some routes are full-time while others are part-time. I can say with 100% certainty that the solutions are out there. Resilience and a positive attitude are key.
Crucially: keep the dream alive; push doors; ask questions; change plans; overcome barriers. After all, these are all qualities expected of airline pilots.


- Olly