Hear From A Current Cadet

So what’s life like as a cadet pilot on the West Atlantic Airlines Cadet Pilot Programme/Sponsorship Scheme? Read what one of the current Cadet Pilots Nicky Yuill has to say :


“I have been interested in pursuing a career in aviation from a very young age, always putting claim to the window seat when going on family vacations! Also being taken to many air shows when I was younger firmly planted the seed in my mind and got me focused on making this my vocation.  Knowing that this was the direction I wanted to take I enrolled with the Air Cadets at 13 and had some great experiences with them,  taking part in activities such as Air Experience Flights and adventure excursions before making another big move towards a flying career and starting my PPL at 15.

I started my PPL at East Midlands Airport with East Midlands Flying School, later moving to Netherthorpe airfield which puts claim to having the shortest licensed runway in the UK. I completed my PPL with Phoenix Flying School . After working hard to get the money to pay for my initial flight training I was delighted to pass my PPL skills test first time in September 2009 and to take the first steps toward realising my ultimate goal.

After working as a TV aerial and satellite installation engineer to fund my PPL and part of my hour building I decided it was time to move into the aviation industry and made it a resolution of mine throughout 2011. Early in the year I approached a light aircraft maintenance company that was attached to the flying school with which I completed my PPL and shortly after started working for them on a voluntary basis to gain experience working on light aircraft. I did this for 3 months and gained enough experience to be offered full time employment by the company. I was over the moon to be offered a job within the industry and meet my target.

Later in the year I heard about the opportunities of the cadet scheme and that they were looking to recruit new cadets. After researching the scheme and learning about what it had to offer I decided that it was something that I was very interested in myself, so I downloaded the application form and spent one Saturday drafting and completing it before sending it in. A couple of months later I had a phone call from Atlantic inviting me to an initial assessment, I couldn’t have been happier!

During the initial assessment we were tested in maths, physics and on our company knowledge. We also took part in group exercises to see how well we worked in a team environment. After this I was fortunate enough to be invited to the next stage in cadet recruitment, the flight assessment. During this I completed a check flight on a Cessna 152 with the CFI, the profile for this flight was much like a PPL skills test and your performance was assessed from preflight planning until engine shutdown. After successfully completing this stage I was given a date for a final board interview. This was like no other interview I had ever had and was held by the CEO, HR Manager, Operations Manager and Cadet Manager. During the interview I was asked questions relating to my personal background, aircraft and aviation technical knowledge and HR/Operations. The wait for news after my board interview seemed like an eternity but it was worth it, I soon received the news I’d been waiting for. I had been successful and my cadet scheme was set to start in October 2011!

One of the major roles a cadet undertakes with Atlantic is crew transportation, positioning them to many of the airports that we operate from including Bournemouth, East Midlands, Luton and many more. We are also sometimes required to take aircraft parts into Europe, for example during one of my first weeks at Atlantic Airlines, me and another cadet were tasked with driving aircraft parts to Nantes, France. I have also driven parts from Copenhagen to Vilnius which required a 24 hour ferry from Kiel to Klaipeda. So you definitely have a great opportunity to travel as a cadet.

After I had been working as a cadet for around 3 months I started hour building towards the 150 hours required to commence a Commercial Pilot Licence course, starting with my night rating. Shortly after I had completed my night rating I was also signed up to an ATPL ground school course at Coventry to begin studying for my 14 ATPL theory exams which are also required to be completed before undertaking the CPL. With some hard work and determination I was very happy to gain first time passes in all of my exams with a 97% average.

As a cadet I have also had many opportunities to jump seat on various company aircraft which is a huge advantage for any cadet, the opportunity to see much of the theory I learnt throughout my ground school course being applied and to see the operation on the line is invaluable and I feel it has really helped to prepare me for life as a First Officer. You are learning from day one as an Atlantic cadet! Another role that I have been fortunate enough to get involved with is working onboard our 737 which is tasked with equine transportation to various places around the world. To fulfill this role I had to complete many training courses including Standard and Emergency Procedures, Doors and Slides, Ditching and Fire and Smoke to name a few. All have been great experience and have immersed me in a training environment which have set me up for my future and shows the massive diversity offered throughout the scheme.

Atlantic also actively encourages and supports us in taking part in team building activities for example the cadet roster is synchronised at some point throughout the year to allow us to arrange an away day. Last year we organised a trip to the Isles of Scilly where we all stayed over night before flying back the next day. We have also taken part in the Lions raft race in Stratford upon Avon in which we took our home made raft 7 miles and over two weirs to raise money for a selected charity.

The cadet scheme has given me some great experiences and by putting me in situations that have been unusual to me has built on a lot of my personal skill sets, given me a great knowledge of the airlines operation and a better understanding of the industry as a whole as well as allowing me to travel the world, meet some great people and work towards my ultimate goal of gaining my ATPL. It requires hard work and dedication to succeed at but if you think that this scheme is for you the rewards are plentiful!

Thanks to the cadet scheme I am now well on my way to achieving my goal and the journey along the way has left me with some great memories. I would highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in getting involved.”

So do you think this is for you ?