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  • Dyfrig Gibbs

This is the air calling


I was asked again today, by someone in the aviation industry, why I want to be a pilot and what type of pilot specifically. I replied briefly, "Because I absolutely love flying and ideally an airline pilot, but I'm flexible so long as It's commercial."

"Ok" she said, "It's just I hear so many people say I wanna be this type of pilot, that type of pilot, and I ask, why, really why do you want to do this? Because if you love flying then the best thing to do is get a good job and fly as a hobby"

I got off the phone, plugged my headphones back in, donned my helmet and cracked on with the task in hand - strimming 5' bracken and bramble down on a steep Welsh hillside. As I returned to my trance-like working state the woman's words echoed in my mind; why do I want to be a commercial pilot? This is the response that the little philosophical man inside me offered up:

I want to fly, am compelled to fly, love to fly because of the boy who still resides in me. As a very young human I was utterly enchanted by planes, and as you know, dreamt of flying - a lot. So now, at 32 when I'm watching planes cross the sky, I still, unconsciously, feel the wonder and magic of the world that a child experiences daily; I'm mesmerised - just ask the lads in work who frequently catch me staring intently at a white streak 38,000 feet high. This sense of youth, that flying gives me, runs deeper again: being immersed in this training, learning everything I can about aviation, learning the theory and actually how to fly, has reinvigorated me. I feel like a kid on his first day of big school and finding that every teacher is a hero and every subject is fascinating. Pursuing this has made me feel younger, more optimistic and receptive.

Then there's the freedom, cited by many pilots as the element they love most about flying; it's certainly one of the major factors for me too - on my first lesson Dave Jones (my CFI) said to me "Take us up to that little cloud up there please Dyf," - that ranks in the top ten things anyone's ever said to me; I've spent my life marvelling at the beauty of clouds and wishing I could just pop up for a closer look. So yes, I love the freedom in 3 dimensions, but more than that, I love the interaction between machine, man and nature. I'm a boy, I like machines - it probably came from growing up around tractors and harvesters - anyway I've always loved them, and as I've grown up I've had immense pleasure commanding them - I love the feeling that as you are controlling this great hulk of metal and technology it's an extension of yourself. To me a plane is the greatest machine: It is simultaneously the most technologically advanced and the most simple, and commanding one, expertly, requires the greatest level of integration between man, machine and environment.

All this above points to the fact that I'd love to fly as a hobby. The popular theory is that if you love doing something then don't do it as a profession - it'll ruin your enjoyment. Poppycock! (Cheers Roald for that wonderful word) I know with certainty that it would be the other way around for me.

Explain yourself boy! Ok, well the thing is, I actually rather like working - pretty much always have. I like to have a role and I like responsibility, I like to have a purpose, I like doing things for a reason.

I can liken it to travelling; I've always found that you get so much more out of being in a new country if you work there. I have travelled through countries, doing all the 'must do's' and experiencing the local culture as per the lonely planet recommendations, but every time, I've found that my experience is emptier, less wholesome, less rewarding than the times I've worked in a new country or culture. Having a purpose enriches the experience.

I'm far less likely to lose my obsession and love for flying if I'm doing it for a reason; if it's my purpose - and actually, far more likely to, if I'm just spending Sundays investigating the cafeterias of all the UK's lesser known airports.

So It's clear; I wholeheartedly want to become a commercial pilot, and I embrace the challenge with excited youthful ignorance!


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