GOOSE Recruitment loves to talk to Pilots from all over the world to learn about what they believe it takes to pursue a career as a Pilot, along with their personal stories and pilot career tips. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with James Carrie, to learn about his impressive career as a Flight Instructor.
How long have you been flying?
My first flight was in 1980 – I remember it so well, but I had fallen in love with aviation and the idea of becoming a Pilot long before that.
When my mother started her first job, she had a little pot that she filled with money every month and when I was 10 years old, she suggested I do the same thing. I used some of the money that I had saved through my childhood and teenage years to pay for my first flying lesson. It was one of my biggest achievements and a memory I wish to cherish forever.
When did you first realise you wanted to become a Pilot?
My Grandfather was an RE8 WW1 Fighter Pilot and gained 215 flying hours in combat in his logbook. He crashed twice before he had even five hours logged but he never gave up and went on to be a fantastic pilot.
From a young age, I had always been curious about a career in piloting, but my eyesight was borderline, and good eyesight is crucial to have as a pilot. Instead, I went down the IT route and landed myself an office career. After 27 years in that role, I was still not fulfilled, I was bored, and I needed a change. I needed to follow my passion for flying.
When did you decide to pursue your Pilot career?
In 2007, I decided to get my PPL and CPL and worked hard for it. At this point in my life, I had a family and a full-time job, so I had to be committed. I went to classes and studied in the evening at the Commercial Ground School, which inevitably required me to make other sacrifices. I made the job change and successfully pursued my passion to become a pilot.
Why did you specifically become a Flight Instructor?
When I finally went into piloting, I was in my mid 40’s and I knew that it was probably too late to have a career with the airlines. I also loved the prospect of teaching aspiring pilots to fulfil their dreams, so I followed the instructing route.
I went on to work for British Airways, to teach the ‘Train the Trainer’ course and later joined L3 Harris. I loved my experience there and it was a fantastic part of my career.
What is the most rewarding part of instructing?
For me, it is seeing your students grow in skills and confidence. One of my students failed their PT1 several times and was nearly kicked off the course, but I saw potential in him. He was dyslexic, so I spent time outside of the standard lessons to teach him in a way that suited his learning style. He finally passed and only three weeks later my colleagues commented on what a great pilot he was. It just goes to show that you need to respect people’s dreams, and everyone learns in different ways.
What is the most challenging part of instructing?
Disobedient students. Lack of skills is fine because these can be taught. Students who do not want to learn or go against what you say is challenging, particularly when there is a safety risk. My priority is to keep everyone safe. For example, one of my students was gifted one million pounds by his Father to learn to fly but he did not have the passion. He was lazy and had no ambition to learn. He did not turn up to lessons and when he did, he ignored my teaching. You must have a passion for flying to succeed.
What has been your most memorable instructing experience?
One of my students was a single parent who wanted to do something for herself, so she decided to get her PPL. She struggled to afford it, but she had so much drive and determination. Her first lesson was awful. She was all over the place and I had to get her to stop but I could see how much she wanted to succeed. I told her to take a break and have some lunch and that next time she would get it right. That next flight, she was fantastic. There was a strong crosswind coming into the landing, but she got us onto the runway elegantly. She smiled at me and said “Did I do that?” and I said, “It wasn’t me, so it must have been you.” There were many happy tears and it made me realise how much she wanted it. It hit home too because we were two people who had sacrificed so much to follow our passions.
What is one tip you give to all your students?
Make sure you can see out of the window. It sounds daft but you need to see both the ground and the horizon. Don’t worry about what you look like, if you need a booster seat, just use it. Trust me.
Where would you love to fly?
I have instructed in most bases in Southern Spain, France, and the UK but the dream is to fly over polar bears following the Northern Atlantic route. Wouldn’t that be amazing?