A Decade's Wait

by Jonathan Fong on Apr 30 2019
Have you ever wondered what will you be doing in the next 5-to-10 years’ time? Or have you ever looked back a few years and wondered if you have chosen the right path to success? How about those occasions where you sat down and asked yourself "So what's next in life?" I did this not too long ago, on 30 April 2017, a date I will never forget. Let me tell my story of a new beginning.

Just a short introduction of myself, I am Jonathan Fong, 32 years of age, and currently in my foundation flying phase at L3 Airline Academy. I am from Singapore, a small nation where National Service is mandatory for all male citizens (for roughly two years). It was also the time when I first tasted the magical fruit of flying. Immediately, I fell in love with it. I was a pilot trainee with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) back in 2008. As a pilot trainee in the RSAF, it is very competitive, stressful and super challenging. Only the top few pilot trainees will be selected to continue as a fighter pilot. Sad to say, I did not make the cut of being a fighter pilot. It was my dream job but I guess life isn't a bed of roses.

However, surprisingly enough, after national service I found myself back with the RSAF, not as a pilot trainee but as an air force engineer. It is a stable job and I was holding a colourful portfolio which would allow me to climb through the ranks within the RSAF organisation.

This brings us back to the date of 30 April 2017 when I asked myself "so what's next?" and it made me realise that my goal wasn't to retire as some high ranking officer with the RSAF but to continue flying, bringing people across the globe, and to explore our world. Hence, my determination in finding a piloting career begins... again.

7 Years of Service
7 Years of Service

It was about 10 years since I last flew and I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I thought to myself daily that if I am going to spend the price of a missile, I must surely prepare myself miles ahead before the leap of faith into the uncertainty of this pilots' rat race. I started off by applying to a couple of cadet pilot programs in hope of not using my parents' retirement funds (I might be back for another blog regarding this topic). I went around asking for the 14 ATPL reading/studying materials to study during my free time and lastly undertook in-depth research for the best, trustworthy and the most reputable aviation academy in the world. One where cadets are able to find a job with an airline at the end of their course.

Successfully enough, I managed to attend a handful of cadet pilot program interviews but one after another they all had similar outcome, "to try again after six months". Nevertheless, the plan for a new beginning had already been crafted. So what's the plan? For me, it was to attend ST Aviation Academy (in Singapore) for ground school, and to join L3 Airline Academy (in New Zealand) for flying phase. Some might ask "Why not do the full CPL MEIR program at either schools since both school offered the full CAAS program?", while others might ask "Why not wait for some cadet pilot program to accept you after six months?" It all comes down to cost and time saving.

My New Beginning
My New Beginning

After seven years of service with the RSAF, on 7 July 2017, I resigned. Since ground school with STAA started in January the following year and L3's flying phase in October, I did a few part-time jobs to save up for my expenditures in New Zealand. When ground school started, I juggled between studying in the day and working part-time at night. It wasn't easy but it had to be done.

It took me 11 years to be back on track of achieving my pilot dream so I am not giving up just yet. And is it all worth it? A definite YES as it’s no ordinary experience.

Fun fact: After losing contact for ten years, I met my RSAF flight instructor again during ground school. Surely it must be a good sign right?

- Jonathan