Date: 4 July 2018
My name is Diego, I started my PPL in 2014 and then decided to take the integrated ATPL route to the cockpit in 2018, at 32 years of age.
So what was I doing before I decided to become a pilot? Well, I was in the military for eight years. I completed my military training at the Royal NLD Military Academy and became an Army Officer for the Technical Troops Regiment. However, I still felt the pull of the cockpit so I left the military and spent a few years as a Business Analyst at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – but even this was not enough!
Becoming a pilot had always been my dream. For my 10th birthday, my parents gave me my first flying lesson and from that moment on, I knew I wanted to fly for the rest of my life and so my mind was set on becoming a pilot. But as I got older, my dream felt like a more difficult goal to reach. When I reached the right age to apply, there were so many other people out there on the same career path as me, and yet the airlines were selecting so few. What made me different? Why was I so special? How can I make myself stand out to these airlines? I decided that if I were to be accepted, I needed more experience, so I began studying and working.
The job market shifted and suddenly to my dismay there was a huge surplus of pilots. By the time I felt ready to do the job I was born to do, it seemed to be too late. The airlines weren’t hiring, flight schools were enrolling less and less students and eventually, I felt like I was too old to start this new career. But then the economy started growing again and the market for pilots changed!
There has never been such a bigger shortage of pilots than there is now – this is a massive opportunity to anyone who is considering a career as a commercial airline pilot. And I have finally been given the chance to pursue the career I have always dreamed of! There was no time to waste – I did not hesitate at all. I applied, completed the vigorous selection and got accepted. And all the experience I had built up over the years from being in the military and my knowledge of the airline industry helped me a great deal through selection and still does today, so it definitely was not a waste of time!
Taking that leap into a new career can be scary. To make my career change possible I have sold my motorcycle, car and even my house! The ATPL course also means I’m away from home for over a year and I have had to accept it’s likely I won’t be working in my home country when I do get a job. But the reward will be great. I will get to enjoy what I do every day, I will see the world from the best office window – and most importantly I have achieved my lifetime goal.
My advice is: think about how much becoming a pilot means to you, then think about the sacrifices you will have to make to make that goal a reality. What is most important to you at the moment? Right now is a great time for anyone to become a pilot. And if you think you’re too old to make that change, then think about my story. I will never regret taking that leap, and I bet you won’t regret it either.
Follow the rest of Diego’s journey on his Instagram @Squawk.7000