Callum’s Flight Training Journey

In this article, we hear a brief account of flying training, which lead Callum to the font seat of a multi-engine aircraft in the Royal Air Force.

What’s your background and why did you want to join the RAF?

I joined up in 2017 and I had wanted to be a Royal Air Force pilot for as long as I could remember. I don’t come from a military family, but growing up visiting airshows and going through Air Cadets confirmed that it was my dream career. The thought of being paid to fly and seeing the world had me hooked. I did not go to university, and intended to join straight after Sixth Form, but SDSR 2010 stopped all recruitment. I filled my time with backpacking around Europe and further afield, worked in bars and restaurants, and at an outdoor activity company as well as running my own business for 12 months. Finally, after my third selection attempt (plus a Royal Navy application!) I was successful, beginning Initial Officer Training (IOT) at RAF College Cranwell.

How did you find Elementary Flying Training (EFT)?

Flying training on the Prefect was a fantastic experience, but also very tough. There was no time for switching off if I wanted to perform at my best – but the hard work did pay off and it was an amazing feeling to complete the course. There were many great memories, from my first solo flight; to navigating with a paper map, compass and stopwatch at 500 feet going 180 knots; to being in thick cloud and learning to trust your instruments and ignoring your gut feeling. It all came together eventually, but what a privilege it was to go through that journey.

Flying did not come naturally to me. I had to work hard, preparing myself over and over again for flights by practicing checks, emergencies, comms, and navigation techniques until crashing out from mental exhaustion each evening. There were times when I doubted whether I had what it took to succeed, but perseverance and determination kept me going.

From the start of my career I had aimed for Fast Jets, viewing it as shooting for the moon. Half way through the course I realised this was unlikely, and in the end I landed among the stars being streamed Multi Engine – but it was a relief. The steep learning curve I was on would only continue for another year to Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) instead of the 3 or so years going Fast Jets. After EFT was the Multi Engine Lead-In (MELIN) course which gave me the skills to work as a team in the cockpit, another welcome addition – two brains are definitely better than one. The course aim was to get us in to the flow of my next jet, the Embraer Phenom, learning how to use an ILS, as well as some formation flying and tailchasing – one of the best things I’ve done, so far!


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