Pilot Profiles: Nick Hibbert

What was it that initially triggered your interest in Flying and Aviation?
When I was aged between 1 and 5 years old, both of my parents worked abroad so I spent a lot of time travelling between the UK and Turkey. Being exposed to the excitement of commercial aviation from a young age sparked my interest in flying and travel.

How did you decide that you wanted to become a Pilot?
On my 17th birthday, my Father took me to Liverpool Airport for a short flying lesson in a Cessna 152. This was the first time I had ever flown in a light aircraft. The experience of flying over Liverpool and Everton football club stadiums and seeing the world from a new perspective, ignited my passion for flying. From this moment on I was hooked and decided I wanted to become a Pilot. However, at the time I remember not being entirely sure if it was going to be possible considering the financial investment it would seemingly require. I learned there were many different ways to get into aviation and my advice would be to research the various opportunities available and speak with the various organisations that promote “youth in aviation”.

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?
I chose to study Aerospace Engineering with Flying Training at University. I thought the engineering side of the degree would stand me in good stead for finding a job in the future, but the primary reason I chose this course was to learn to fly.  Joining the University of London Air Squadron (part of the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserves) was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was surrounded by like-minded people, who were ambitious, driven, and adventurous whilst all sharing a passion for aviation. Flying fully aerobatic at the end of a training sortie was just incredible and I loved every moment.  I worked part-time whilst studying at university to fund any flying training that I did outside of the RAF. I was lucky enough to be awarded a flying scholarship by the Air League, enabling me to complete my Private Pilot License in 2011. I would definitely recommend anybody considering a career in aviation to apply to the various flying scholarships on offer, they really are an amazing opportunity and not many people are aware they even exist.

What general advice would you give to aspiring Pilots?
Research the career thoroughly and speak with as many people within the aviation industry as possible; this will help you decide if flying for a living is indeed the career you imagine it to be. Work hard whilst being relentless and determined to achieve what it is you have set out to do. Everybody entering the aviation industry has had setbacks; resilience and self-belief are both key to being successful.

How long has it taken you to get to where you are now?
From my first flying lesson aged 17 to now being 28 years old, on the Virgin Atlantic MPL Future Flyers course, I am still working towards my dream of flying jets for a living. There are no so called “quick wins” within aviation, it’s best to enjoy the journey in itself. I have previously worked as a programme manager, both for the UK MoD and large corporate companies, mainly within aerospace and defence related projects. My friends and colleagues all have different backgrounds and stories of how they got into aviation. If you follow your passion and work tirelessly towards your goals – you won’t go far wrong!

Which aspect of your journey into Aviation did you find to be most enjoyable?
To date, I have most enjoyed flying training on the North Island of New Zealand. One flight sticks in my mind as being quite special; flying solo in a Cessna 172 at 10,500 ft orbiting the snow-capped summit of Mount Ruapehu – a dormant volcano! I am also very much looking forward the next phase of training in the Airbus A320 full motion simulator, where we will be following very similar standard operating procedures to when we are on the line flying passengers!

Which aspect of your journey into Aviation did you find most challenging?
Applying to cadet schemes and getting knocked back is hard. Don’t give up. Learn from your experiences, adapt and keep pushing forward; believe in yourself and know that you can achieve anything you set your mind towards achieving.

If you had your time again, would there be anything that you may have done differently? If so, why?
I have friends who started training to be Pilots at a much younger age than myself; they have done exceptionally well and really enjoy what they do day to day. At times seeing and hearing from my close friends, who were already flying passengers around Europe, did at times make me question why I was still following a different career path. However, everything that I have done to date has led me to the path that I am now, and the experiences have made me who I am, so I would not change anything as such.

Why Virgin Atlantic?
Virgin Atlantic have a different way of doing things and are not afraid to stand out from the crowd – “depart the everyday”. I love the family atmosphere that Virgin Atlantic holds and how they make you feel part of the team from day one.

Which aspect of your future role and career are you most excited about?
I am excited about the everyday challenges of flying passengers to some amazing destinations, in a variety of different weather conditions whilst meeting new and interesting people.



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