Pilot Profiles: Rob Bissett

What was it that initially triggered your interest in Flying and Aviation?
I’ve always been interested in aviation and planes pretty much as long as I can remember but if I had to recall one moment, it would have to be a visit to the flight deck on a Britannia 757 on the way to Portugal. I must have been about 4 or 5 and I can still remember it now. I’ve had the aviation bug ever since!

How did you decide that you wanted to become a Pilot?
I think it was that first flight deck visit to be honest. I remember now being completely amazed by it all and thinking that was what I wanted to do. It stuck with me through school and then university so I always tried to gather as much information as I could about it along the way.

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 knew that flying was the career I really wanted to follow however I always knew it was a long term goal and that it would likely need a bit of patience. I decided to go to university after finishing my A-Levels really to give me something to fall back on should the flying career not work out. I had a great time and have met some friends for life through that and would definitely recommend the same to anyone looking to get in to flying if they are able to. On graduating in 2006 there wasn’t a lot happening in the pilot training arena and even less in terms of sponsored/part-sponsored training programmes. Not being in a position to fund it myself, I started searching for jobs in the industry and eventually (after a year working in consulting) found a job with Virgin in the Network Planning department.

I managed to complete my PPL whilst working in the Head Office for Virgin and just tried to gain as much experience in the business as I could.
My best advice to anyone looking to get into flying would be to be patient and not lose heart if it doesn’t work out immediately. Look for ways to get some flying experience (even if it’s just a few hours in a Cessna) and absolutely try and get a job within the industry so you get to see what it’s all about.

What general advice would you give to aspiring Pilots?
Be patient, stay focussed on the long-term goal and give yourself as many options as you can in the meantime. Embarking on the training is a pretty big commitment – especially if you are funding it yourself – so definitely do your research first!

How long has it taken you to get to where you are now?
I’m 33 now and started training in 2015 aged 30 so a little while from that first flight deck visit in about 1990! However I’ve gained a huge amount of experience outside of flying so if you are a bit older, don’t be put off.

Which aspect of your journey into Aviation did you find to be most enjoyable?
There’s a lot to choose from! In no particular order, I’d say completing my PPL, my time working in the office for Virgin, getting a place on the Future Flyers Programme and base training – that is one day you never forget!

Which aspect of your journey into Aviation did you find most challenging?
Probably getting knocked back a couple of times for other airline training schemes – especially having got to the final stage on both occasions. That tests your resolve a bit for sure so it’s really important to learn from those and use that experience to help you out in the future.

Why Virgin Atlantic?
It’s a totally iconic brand in the aviation world and having worked for that brand for a number of years, you get to see just how strong it is and how great the people are. Couple that with a great partner in Delta, new aircraft on the way and it being one of the best UK based flying jobs and it’s easy to see why it’s a great place to work.

Which aspect of your future role and career are you most excited about?
I’m still in the very early days of my flying career so it’s really about enjoying that and learning as much as I can.  I think the future is looking really good for the airline industry in general and that helps makes the job exciting as it should mean growth for the airline and more destinations to fly to. Oh and of course hopefully getting to fly the A350-1000s at some point!

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