Cadet to Flight Instructor to Airline Pilot

by João Carquejo on Nov 13 2019

“The highest art form of all is a human being in control of himself and his airplane in flight, urging the spirit of a machine to match his own.”Richard Bach

Since I can remember I used to tell everyone about how I wanted to become a pilot, and to be honest I don’t even know how it started in the first place. It is intrinsic to me and as such I can’t describe the exact feeling I have when I think about flying or even when I fly.

My name is João Carquejo and I am a 24-year-old former G Air Training Centre, now L3Harris European Airline Academy, cadet and flight instructor. I am currently flying as a First Officer in the ATR 72-600 from White Airways for TAP Express.

I was raised in a small island in the Azores (a small nine island archipelago in Portugal) so flying was always a part of my life, as that is the most common way of getting in and out of the island throughout the year. I would frequently travel to visit my family who lived on the mainland, and I believe that this contributed to my love for flying.

At the end of high school in 2014 two options arose: University or Flight School? At first I applied to University, but was soon surprised by my parents when they decided to support me, and help me pursue my childhood dream.

My training started in September 2014 and I was part of batch 07/14, one of the two batches that started its training that month in Ponte de Sor, Portugal. In the training academy we studied 14 subjects, all of which are equally important. All of the modules you study play a crucial part in your training and later on in your career. Out of all of the modules my favourite subjects were definitely Principles of Flight (PoF) and Meteorology, because you get to understand the dynamics of your surroundings and of what you are fundamentally doing.

I started my flying training while I was still at ground school, as we were given the chance to do so at the time. In my experience it had its ups and downs, and if I had to do it all over again I would simply go through the theoretical part first and then focus solely on flying, because I found the practical training very time and energy consuming and it can make you go off track with ground school.

There are a mixture of feelings when you get to fly for the first time, because you are so hyped up for it that you don’t realise you’re actually pretty scared. I found that I was nervous the first time I flew and this continued through to my first solo flights, however I gradually built up my confidence.

You will never forget the first solo flight you fly! All pilots carry that memory with them as though it happened yesterday.

My first solo flight was on the 9th of March. It was a sunny winter day in Ponte de Sôr and after an hour of flying the traffic pattern, my instructor wished me good luck and told me he would see me back on the ground. I was so excited and I didn’t want the experience to end!

After my first solo flight I went into a solo-flying phase where I was able to improve my freshly acquired skills and also cockpit discipline, which is needed for the last phases of training- Instrument Rating and Multi Engine Rating, without your instructor in the cockpit. This was, without a doubt, the best and most amazing time of flying school!

After receiving my Flight Instructor Rating in 2018 I began teaching flying at the European Airline Academy, and this has quickly become my passion.

I instructed for six months before I got my first airline job but I have to say that there’s something fulfilling and gratifying about teaching others this lifelong skill. I get a lot of pride and joy from the realisation that someone will forever carry the expertise I have taught them.

Eight months have passed since I’ve started flying the ATR, and in that time I have accumulated more than 45,000 miles and have carried thousands of passengers, making this one the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding and irreplaceable experiences so far.

I hope that by sharing my experiences others will feel inspired to pursue the same amazing opportunities. Please feel free to reach me through social networks if you have any questions or queries, and I’ll be glad to answer them all to the best of my abilities.

Safe Flights and Happy Landings

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