Pilot Careers Live – making the right choices

FTN’s spy in the audience at a recent pilot training and careers show gives a personal view on asking the right questions, making the right choices, and why Ian Seager doesn’t wear short trousers anymore…


Anyone with experience of manning an exhibition stands at one of the long-running professional pilots training shows now branded as ‘Pilot Careers Live’ will know that there are some standard questions that all those aspiring commercial pilots attending should be asking themselves: Do you know what training routes are available? Do you know which one would suit you best? Do you know how much it costs? Do you know how long it takes? Do you know how to maximise your chances of gaining employment after graduating? Do you know if these are even the right questions to be asking?

Not surprisingly, it’s widely acknowledged that for someone with no prior knowledge of the aviation training industry, making the right decision about which route to take with your commercial pilot training can be more than a little daunting. Let’s face it, it’s a bloody great minefield…

‘Making the right choices’ was the title of the first seminar delivered at the Pilot Careers Live event, held at the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow T5 towards the end of April. The seminar was presented by Ian Seager, the man behind the show, which has been running for nearly two decades.

Ian’s been in the aviation industry since he was in short trousers. He doesn’t wear short trousers any longer; I believe that his wife Martine put a stop to that some decades ago. In other words, he’s old. Really old. Back when he was a dewy-eyed wannabe sky-god, sporting grass-stained knees and a pocket full of conkers, there was no such thing as online aviation news sites, forums and chatrooms. There wasn’t even the internet, and Flight Training News was but a twinkle in our publisher’s eye. For Ian-the-Younger, about the only avenue open to him to discover what the world of aviation had to offer was for him to get on his Penny Farthing and head to the nearest airfield with a flying school and then try to guess at the right questions to ask.


Thankfully it’s rather different these days. Ian now wears long trousers and the amount of pilot training information available on the internet is legion. But, of course, that in itself presents something of a problem – how on earth can one assimilate all the available information and then make an informed choice? Well you can’t, not completely. There’s just too much of it and a fair amount of it is contradictory. The best one can hope to gain is enough background information in order to be equipped to ask the right questions. And then you need to find someone to ask; preferably someone impartial, who’s not trying to sell you something.

Pilot Careers Live has been designed as a one-stop information gathering portal and it does a darned good job of it. At these events many of the major players in the pilot training industry set out their stalls and provide information about the various training routes available. Of course they’re at the show to sell you a training programme and so have a vested interest in convincing you that their particular training programme is the only sensible route for a future sky god such as yourself. However, given that pretty much every training route available is represented at the show, at least you can be certain that you’ll get a good overview of what is available. Then there’s the added bonus of the seminars. Back to Ian’s then…

As well as being in the industry longer than the Wright Brothers, Ian is also impartial. He doesn’t own a flying school or an airline, so he doesn’t have a vested interest in pointing anyone in the direction of any particular training route.

Ian says that the three questions he gets asked most frequently by aspiring commercial pilots are:

  • Which is the best training route?
  • Will I get a job?
  • How much will it cost?

Given that fundamentally this isn’t a one-size-fits-all industry, Ian advises that in order to be able to answer these questions he’d probably need a week with you, and even then he would be wary of making a recommendation. Instead he recommends that aspiring pilots start by asking themselves some questions, such as: do you know what being a pilot is about; where do you live, where do you want to live, where can you live; do you know what type of pilot you want to be; can you quantify the risk/reward of training to become a pilot; do you have a plan B?


In other words, Ian wants potential pilots to get in the habit of asking themselves difficult questions, the questions that perhaps you don’t want to ask yourself as you may not like the answers. Ian advises that it’s all too easy to pretend to yourself about why you want to be a pilot and how you’re going to achieve it. Ultimately you may discover, after much heartache and financial outlay, that the job wasn’t at all how you imagined it would be.

Here then are Ian’s four tips to help wannabe pilots make an informed choice:

  1. Do your research.
  2. Write a business plan (an action plan).
  3. Think about DODAR* (an aviation acronym that is well worth looking up).
  4. Ask LOTS of questions.

We’d also recommend that you attend one of Ian’s Pilot Careers Live events (they take place throughout the year at various locations in the UK and mainland Europe), but of course Ian is too modest to add that to his list.

Oh, and enjoy wearing short trousers while you can…

* For those who want to know right away, DODAR is an abbreviation for aiding in aviation decision making:

  • D             Diagnose (in other words, what is the problem?)
  • O             Options (can you hold, divert, return to base etc.?)
  • D             Decide (which option should you go for)
  • A             Act or Assign (carry out the selected option, and/or assign tasks to others)
  • R             Review (How is the plan going? Is there new information, what is/are the result(s) of the selected option?)

Author: Adrian Mahovics

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