Trading the 9-5 for the dream

by Peter Hamilton-Gray on Apr 11 2019
I distinctly recall at the age of seven, crossing the Atlantic on board a 747 with my family en-route to America. This was my first recollection of being on an aircraft, but little did I know how it would shape my life over the coming years.

My dad, a huge inspiration in my life has always had a deep-rooted love of aviation. As such, he asked one of the members of cabin crew if we could visit the cockpit mid-flight – this was back in the Mid 90’s. Soon I was being led down the aisle towards the cockpit, and remember the second I stepped into this alien world looking out across the large expanse that is the Atlantic Ocean.

From speaking to the pilots and trying to take in as much as I could at that age, I was hooked! It was then I realised I’d end up costing my family a fortune in helping me to pursue this dream. Naturally I started to look around and ask how best to go about pursuing this career path. The UK Air cadets was the first logical step in this journey. It was there from the age of 13, I rapidly gained knowledge of aviation both in lectures and trips out to various air bases and was very quickly awarded both gliding and flying scholarships. Off the back of this, I was then invited to remain on at one of my previous squadrons, where I trained as an instructor. Taking my first student flying was an experience I’ll never be able to properly put down in words, but I’m forever indebted to my then squadron commander for that opportunity.

It wasn’t too long after this that I then departed to university leaving all of this fun behind. The following three years were invaluable, helping me to learn more about the finer details of business whilst spreading my wings and learning to live independently. After what seemed to be a blur, I was presented with my degree and launched into the world of business. Starting in consultancy and then progressing into operations helped me to rapidly build upon my business and commercial acumen, alongside furthering my team leadership and team playing skills. In my final role prior to flight school, I was involved in many management meetings with a large number of people from across the world, negotiating on contracts and deals (alongside more senior colleagues), and making a real impact on that company and its performance. I was finding I was being given more and more responsibility as I was becoming more confident and competent, something I thrived on. Whilst this was all enjoyable, there was always something missing… flying! Whilst I had an enjoyable job, the memories of that flight across the Atlantic had never left, and every time I went abroad I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that I was still not fulfilling my true dream. It was one day towards the end of summer in 2016, which after many phone calls to my parents and conversations with a few friends that had already followed this route, I decided to contact the team at L3, and submit an application.

Little did I know, that would be the beginning of the end to a successful 9-5. Trading in my suit for a uniform was incredibly satisfying and whilst there was to be a long road of studying and setting aside the social life, it has been absolutely worth it! At first, having been out of the world of education for quite some time, it took a bit of getting used to with regard to the studying side of things. Thankfully I quickly found my groove that allowed me to focus on getting those 14 ATPL exams passed. With great delight, in the winter of 2017 I was setting first step into an L3 Diamond DA40 in Bournemouth to begin the start of the flying portion of the course.

Where we are today; CPL = passed and I’m very soon to be undertaking my IR Test in the Diamond DA42. Whilst there is still quite a bit of studying left to complete, I’m confident that with the support of loved ones, the excellent training provided by a number of flight instructors and my drive to succeed, it won’t be too much longer until I’m in the right hand seat of a jet flying passengers across Europe.

As my journey with L3 comes to an end, I wish all those looking to trade in their 9-5 for an office in the sky all the very best. It will be hard work, there will be many long hours and sacrifices to be made, however it is totally worth it! My mentality has always been, if you want something hard enough, you will get it… The real question is will you take that next step towards your dream?


Happy flying, Peter.

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