Pilot Profiles: Alishia Bateman

What was it that initially triggered your interest in Flying and Aviation?
I have been interested in flying from a young age, growing up near Leeds Bradford airport. My family used to take me there on weekends to watch planes and I attended airshows with my dad. This sparked my love for flying. 

How did you decide that you wanted to become a Pilot?
I decided I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a commercial pilot once I joined the Air Training Corps (the Air Cadets) at the age of 13. I had the chance to take part in air experience flights in the Grob Tutor with them and then went on to achieve my gliding and flying scholarships, earning my first sets of wings. From this point on I had the flying bug; I wanted to fly, to be in the air & I knew that this was the career path for me. Without this opportunity having been available to all, I would never have been able to start chasing my dream. 

Once you decided you wanted to follow a career in Aviation, what were your initial steps into turning this ambition into reality? How would you advise somebody who aspires to do the same?
My initial steps into following a career in aviation were to submerse myself into the industry and flying as much as I could. The Air Cadets is available for young people from all walks of life and backgrounds and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in flying, as it the most accessible way of learning to fly. Once I had the bug I was hooked: I went on to take private flying lessons at Leeds Bradford Airport, then went on to become cabin crew, which I found gave me the understanding of the industry and what it’s like to fly on large jets on a daily basis. I would recommend to anyone that any career in aviation is a good step forward as you learn so much about the industry and yourself.

What general advice would you give to aspiring Pilots?
Never give up on your dream. There are routes and ways out there for people from all backgrounds and all walks of life – it can be done! Hard work can really pay off. 

How long has it taken you to get to where you are now?
I started pursuing my ambitions when I was 13 years old. I am now 23 years old & have just qualified as a pilot on the Airbus.

Which aspect of your journey into Aviation did you find to be most enjoyable?
The most enjoyable part of my journey was the solo flying section of the training course. Getting to be in control of a light aircraft, flying around the American desert on an early morning & exploring from the air was such a highlight and something I will never forget. The feeling of your first solo, the first time you take off and land by yourself is one that I haven’t yet being able to beat. 

Which aspect of your journey into Aviation did you find most challenging?
The hardest part for me was finding a way into the industry when all my friends wanted to be vets and doctors and no one else wanted to be a pilot. I had no idea of what opportunities were available or where to even start to look. However once I was pointed in the right direction with regard to flight schools and airline schemes, everything then fell into place. 

If you had your time again, would there be anything that you may have done differently? If so, why?
The only thing I would have done differently if I had my time again would be not to wait. When the Virgin Atlantic Future Flyers opened for the first year of applications, I didn’t think I would get onto the scheme so I didn’t apply; this is my one regret. Believe in yourself and put the work in and you can achieve anything. I would not change anything else because I’m in the career I’ve always wanted to be in, for a fantastic airline I’ve always wanted to work for and I don’t think anything could be better. 

Why Virgin Atlantic?
Everything about Virgin Atlantic appeals to me: from a young age I’ve always admired the company, the brand, the glamour, everything about Virgin made flying an ambitious career and they still are to this day. My first ever holiday to Florida was on Virgin Atlantic and from then on, I knew I wanted to work for them. Virgin Atlantic are an airline who step away from the ordinary. They have so many unique features that customers and staff alike love, they’re a great company to work for and you do feel like part of a big family. I feel only proud to say I work for Virgin Atlantic.

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