Michael Holmes (1995 – 2002)
Pilot, First Officer, Flybe
Qualifications:Multi-Crew Pilot Licence
Air League: Flying Scholarship
Oxford University Air Squadron: Most Promising Pilot
Flight Training Europe: Highest scores in Groundschool Exams
Bolton School gave me an excellent all-round education, a healthy balance of academic and extra-curricular activities. I always felt encouraged to strive for excellence. My favourite teachers were Mr Harrison (Maths) and Mr Pownall (Russian). After leaving School I completed a Masters Degree in Physics at the University of Oxford, specializing in Astrophysics and Atmospheric Physics.
What does your job involve and how did you progress to your current role? My job involves flying in the right-hand seat of a Bombardier Dash-8 Q400, a 78-seat twin-turboprop aircraft. I operate on short-haul routes, mainly to the UK and Western Europe. A day’s work typically involves flying 4 or 6 flights, normally finishing each day back at home in Jersey.
My path to becoming a pilot began by gaining some flying experience, initially as a cadet in the Air Training Corps, then on the University Air Squadron. I was also lucky enough to be awarded a 15-hour flying scholarship by the Air League. After university I gained a place on an 18-month course of integrated flying training in southern Spain, part sponsored by Flybe. On completion of the training I moved to Jersey to start flying for Flybe.
What or who influenced your career choice? My Dad and Granddad – they were both aviation enthusiasts and used to take me to the airport at weekends and to air shows in the summer, throughout my childhood. My Granddad constantly encouraged me to work hard towards my dream, despite a number of setbacks.
Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job? Communication skills are vital, since a misunderstanding can have serious implications. Also important are the ability to work as part of a team, and the ability to maintain concentration for long periods of time.
What do you like most about your job? I really enjoy the sensation of flying, the fantastic views, and the fact that every day is different and has its own challenges. Being paid to do what I love is a nice bonus!
What is your biggest challenge in your current role? Keeping up with constantly changing rules and regulations, and maintaining focus in an environment full of distractions and threats to the safe operation of the flight.
What do you consider to be your greatest career achievement? It’s still early days in my career – my greatest achievement so far was simply gaining a place on a training course in a highly competitive environment, completing the course, and passing all exams first time with excellent results.
What would be your advice to pupils interested in your field of work? Only pursue a career in aviation if it is what you really want to do – it is a long and expensive process. If you are sure it’s what you want then refuse to give up, it’s a lot of hard work but is well worth it in the end.