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mine said he was going to go and do
a foundation course in accountancy.
I realized that my father, who was
self-employed, used to engage a
chartered accountant to manage
his affairs. I thought, well he never
seems to be short of a bob or two—the
accountant, not my father—and so
I was caught to some extent by this
idea of a professional qualification
to become a chartered accountant.
I then embarked on securing a
training contract or an accountancy
apprenticeship, as you did back then.
So I did my apprenticeship here with
a small firm in Leicester with a very
colorful practice. The front of house
man was a guy named Lindsay Berry,
so I trained with his firm, Lindsay
Berry and Partners. That gave me some
great training. I managed to qualify
with first-time passes as a chartered
accountant. At the same time, I still
had a longing to obtain my pilot’s
license but didn’t have any money.
So, it was only after I qualified that I
thought I could pick up my passion
and pursue my flying interest.
I would add that I did try to get
sponsorship with British Airways back
in 1982. They were inundated with
applicants, so unfortunately I was
unsuccessful in being able to achieve
sponsorship through them, which at
the time was probably, other than the
self-sponsored route, the only way
that you were going to train as a pilot.
But the thought in the early ‘80s of me
borrowing £ 30,000 to pay for my training
and a personal aversion to debt would
have prevented me from doing that.
So having qualified and having the
money, I then chose to pursue my
interest as a hobby. I originated my
private pilot’s license back in the
early ‘90s. I started to go places in
the aircraft, but I soon realized that
unless I had an instrument rating, the
weather in the U.K was going to be a
major restriction. So I went and got
my instrument rating, which means I
can go in the airways with the big jets,
albeit much lower, and it just makes
going from A to B much easier.
I enjoyed the training so much that I
then went on to secure my commercial
pilot’s license and, most recently,
have completed my air transport
pilot’s license technical examinations.
So I now have what is known in
the industry as “frozen ATPL.”
I use my pilot’s license occasionally
for business if I’m attending a
conference or a meeting, for
example, but predominately I use
it for pleasure. We might take the
family to France on holiday, or we
might go with some friends to Le
Mans for the motor racing. It helps
satisfy, to a large extent, my original
passion for wanting to be a pilot.
Now that I’m maturing in years, I
realize that being a civil airline pilot
wasn’t all that it was cracked up to
be. Maybe that’s how the market
has moved as well. I think that has
probably taken some of the charisma
out of it in terms of the automation.
On reflection, I’m probably better off
doing what I do now as a day job and
being in a position that I can afford to
go flying when I want to, with whom
I want to, and go wherever I want to
rather than being dictated to by one
Mr. Michael O’Leary at Ryanair.