Pilot Profiles: Sorcha Didier

 “2018, having completed my last IFR flight in a C172 in New Zealand for the Virgin Atlantic MPL.”

What was it that initially triggered your interest in Flying and Aviation
As a little girl, I was flying between France and Northern Ireland to visit family a lot and at the time we were often given the opportunity to visit the flight deck both on the ground and in the air. The multitude of buttons and the confidence with which the pilots operated the aircraft really raised my interest in flying. As I grew up, I became fascinated by all the people and machines it took for my flight to happen; what a beautifully complex mess! The impression of urgency and importance really perked my excitement for the aviation sector and I knew I wanted to be a part of it all.

How did you decide that you wanted to become a Pilot?
It was my first micro-gliding flight at the age of 16, at an event taking place in my village, that first planted the seed to become a pilot. I hadn’t contemplated this career before then, but the incredible feeling I had from taking off in the micro-glider and looking at the earth from above was enough to trigger a fire in me.

Although I didn’t know any other pilots, I started to think hard about all the skills that I thought would be needed and the kind of environment in which I would be working to make sure it suited me. The more I thought about these, the more I knew I would love such a career.

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 studied an Aviation course at the University of Leeds where I gained an awareness of the aviation industry and completed my PPL. The course itself gave me job security in the industry while the PPL cemented my interest and determination to become a pilot. 

After University, I worked in the aviation industry producing aeronautical charts for pilots and later at Virgin Atlantic, in the Navigation Services (Operations) department. The latter gave me incredible exposure which proved invaluable during the assessment phase of the Virgin Atlantic Future Flyers Programme.

I would highly recommend getting as many flying hours as you can to solidify and prove your interest in becoming a pilot. You won’t forget the joy it brings you (even years later) and that will also help you to push through challenging times in pursuit of your dream.

Secondly, I would encourage aspiring cadets to get a job or shadow the Operations department of an airline to gain greater understanding of the airline business. This will in turn help you make more informed decisions in the cockpit and in your career.

 

“Early photo – 2011, in a Portuguese Air Force chipmunk with a fellow trainee, the summer I got my PPL”

 

What general advice would you give to aspiring Pilots?

  1. Work hard and believe in yourself. Look to those that inspire you and remember they started where you did too.
  2. Invest in your time and yourself. Do things that serve multiple purposes: find activities/jobs that you are interested in and that will also boost your skills, knowledge or personal attributes with the intention to become the best pilot you can be. This will help you to be successful at interviews, assessment centres and throughout your career.

How long has it taken you to get to where you are now?
From the start of my aviation degree, it has taken me 7 years. This includes my degree which took 3 years and 4 years of professional work in Aviation during which I was building my skillset, personal competencies and general knowledge of the industry while applying for sponsorships.

Which aspect of your journey into Aviation did you find to be most enjoyable?
Flying of course! And having worked hard for it too… In my journey into aviation I learned a great deal of this multifaceted industry which has only increased my hunger to know more. One of the most enjoyable and satisfying feeling I have had from this journey is how I have grown as an individual and how the whole experience has helped me learn and refine various skills that are essential to be a part of Aviation.

Which aspect of your journey into Aviation did you find most challenging?
Getting back from the disappointment of not getting on a scheme. It takes patience, self belief and grit to overcome setbacks but they make you more resilient and determined to succeed. I worked harder to achieve my dream following these experiences and this has led me to where I am today.

Why Virgin Atlantic?
Having worked for the airline for two years prior, Virgin Atlantic was an easy choice. My biggest motivation was to work with like minded people who have a sense of pride in the work they do, always go the extra mile for the common goal, and still have a laugh and enjoy their day! Everyone at Virgin Atlantic is approachable and it makes for such a close knit family atmosphere, which was so valuable to me as a foreigner.

Another big motivator for me was the opportunity that Virgin Atlantic provides pilots to lend their expertise in office roles like technical pilot or route operations captain (and more) alongside their flying. This provides for such personal growth as you are involved in many exciting projects and make decisions that impact the fleet while learning about the complex operations that revolve around the flight deck.

Which aspect of your future role and career are you most excited about?
I am most excited about the sense of achievement after each flight, when you notice that your skills are getting refined, your ability to multitask increases and your knowledge of the aircraft, your surroundings and your abilities is helping you make better decisions. The journey to become a better pilot is in itself a big source of motivation and excitement and makes you enjoy flying more each day!

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