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Ashton Baker-Pollard

When did you know you wanted to be an airline pilot?

I have had a true passion for aviation from a young age and all I ever wanted to do was fly. I remember that I would look up to the sky and see all the aircraft flying overhead and I was truly amazed at how all these aircraft can stay in the air and take people from A to B. I also remember that I would get this amazing feeling every time I went to the airport or flew on an aircraft. I still do!

At the age of 14, I was lucky enough to get into the cockpit of an Airtours DC-10 just over the border of the USA. I was mesmerised by the view and all the buttons, switches, lights and the professionalism of the pilots and from that day, I knew that wherever life took me, I would end up in a flying career.

When and where did you first learn to fly?

I had my first flying lesson at the age of around 13 in Blackpool. I would save up all my pocket money and wages from a small job to get a few hours in a Cessna 152. Over the next few years I continued to work hard as a Paramedic and running a business before starting the modular pathway at Stapleford Flight Centre in London. Once my basic training was complete, I met with Ben Boness and the team at VA Airline Training where I signed up for the APS MCC course on the Boeing 737-800.

What are you looking forward to the most about being an airline pilot?

The view. Aviation gives the best office in the world with truly spectacular views and visiting lots of new places… albeit mainly airports! I’m looking forward to the challenges that face a busy flag carrier, being the face of the company, making every flight the best possible one that I can, and I am also looking forward to meeting new people.

What challenges did you overcome on your journey to becoming an airline pilot?

The dreaded ATPLs. Having studied at University, ATPLs made that look easy. Some subjects came naturally to me, but others required extra study. That said, with perseverance, endless reams of paper and gallons of coffee, I got them done in minimal time. Overall, from start to finish, it took me just over 20 months from having a few hours in my logbook to a frozen ATPL.

Ashton completed his APS MCC on the Boeing 737

Ashton completed his APS MCC on the Boeing 737

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What advice would you give yourself at the start of your airline journey if you could?

The best advice I would give myself would be to never accept the standard, always strive to excel and challenge oneself in relation to expectations and goals. When things get tough, I’d remember the reasons why I chose a career as an airline pilot.

If you weren’t an airline pilot what would you be?

I would continue Para-medicine in Primary and Emergency Care and be forever wishing that my dream to fly would come true.

When did you land your first airline job?

June 2019.

What aircraft will you be flying for your airline?

A320 family for British Airways.

For those thinking about becoming an airline pilot, would you recommend it, and why?

Undoubtedly, aviation is an amazing career, although stressful at times. That being said, it will not suit everyone. As someone who is accustomed to shift work, it does take its toll on you over time. Clearly finances are an issue for those wanting to get into aviation as it costs a large sum of money. However, if you want to challenge yourself in a unique, customer focused and diverse role where no two days are the same, become an airline pilot. With dedication, commitment and hard work, you will get to the finish line and soon be jetting around the world.