THIS IS NOT a book, but ‘a system’. A system providing ‘everything you need to take you from ground zero to and including becoming a jet First Officer for a major airline

THIS IS NOT a book, but ‘a system’. A system providing ‘everything you need to take you from ground zero to and including becoming a jet First Officer for a major airline.’ Everything? Well, let’s see…

The authors are four airline pilots who fly for three of the UK’s largest scheduled airlines. They prefer to remain anonymous as they claim to share ‘privileged information’ with the reader concerning the specific interview and recruitment procedures used by those airlines.

This combined motivational text and how-to guide takes the complete tyro ‘What me, airline pilot? Nahhh!’ through the practicalities leading from “… Well, maybe…” all the way up to emerging with a “Yahoo!” from that interview with BA, Midland or Virgin. Clearly, we are not talking course material for exams, or learning to fly from a book. No, this is how to organise your life, your finances, your battle plan and even your marriage, in order to single-mindedly achieve that one goal.

The content borrows something from the American genre of self-help and personal development books, as well as ‘I Will Make You A Millionaire’-type programmes: Action Plans, exhortations to self belief, and even a signature box for you to fill in underneath the statement ‘I CAN & I WILL SUCCEED’. Stirring stuff, if not exactly everybody’s cup of flight-deck tea. However, I’ve always admired the guts and determination of the ‘self-improvers’ and can imagine that when all alone and setting out into the challenging, confusing, and expensive world of learning to fly, anything that bolsters your confidence is a good thing.

More to the point, anything that saves you losing thousands of your hard-earned (or borrowed) pounds with a fly-by-night-and-bust-in-the-morning flying school isn’t exactly a bad thing either.

There are four sections. ‘Briefing’ covers medical and nationality requirements for licence issue; ratings and licences needed en route; ongoing changes to ground and flight syllabuses (updates at their website); dodgy or difficult personalities you should expect to meet; and the importance of a long-term plan. ‘Take-Off’ deals with training options; financial possibilities such as loans, grants, intermediate jobs (flying or not); which country to train in; and converting the resulting licence (or license). ‘Cruise’ sets out principles for picking and paying schools; visas and work permits for training overseas; exam techniques (RTFQ!); and constructing a detailed training schedule. Finally, ‘Landing’: CV and letter writing; networking; more personal development; and the techniques to deploy when you finally touch down, right there in the office in front of the interviewers.

The writing is logical and sharp, and there is a minimal number of typo errors; although the suggestion that to ignore the advice of these professionals would be ‘wreckless’ (sic) cracked me up–surely being wreckless is just what every aviator aspires to!

Would-be professional pilots cannot expect to be led by the hand, and this book cannot replace the experience and contact gained from searching out information for oneself. It won’t replace the grapevine nor CAPs–nor should it. Neither does it contain all the answers. Check other specialised books on interview techniques and CV writing for example–not that I disagree with what is here, just that it cannot, in 100 pages, contain everything you need.

Value for money at £28, or the price of a bottle of Scotch? I guarantee many have lost a hundred times that through making just one of the mistakes this book seeks to protect you from. If you are setting out as a self-funded trainee professional pilot: Yes.