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Charting New Horizons

Hello there! I'm Glenn, and at the time of this writing, I'm currently a Junior First Officer with Jetstar Asia (JSA). I'm excited to share my journey with you.

My solo flight

With my strong passion for STEM and a familial history rooted in engineering, I naturally envisioned a future in that field. Little did I anticipate that my ultimate calling would lead me to the skies as a pilot.

After obtaining my engineering diploma, I decided to broaden my horizons by pursuing a degree in naval architecture abroad. Upon my return, I pursued a career in the maritime industry. But as time passed, I couldn't shake the feeling that something just wasn't right. Despite the promising outlook, work began to feel like a chore, leaving me feeling unfulfilled.

After much soul-searching, I figured making a career switch wasn't too late. I found myself torn between pursuing an MBA or venturing into Computer Science. Just when I felt stuck, my brother suggested I consider becoming a pilot.

Reflecting on my journey to becoming a pilot, I remember the initial apprehension that gripped me. The thought of entering a world seemingly reserved for the elite and the privileged left me with doubts. But then, a spark of curiosity ignited a fire within me, propelling me towards a passion I never knew I had.

As the flames of desire grew stronger, I grappled with the decision to start over.

"Was I truly ready to start over? After investing so much time and money in my professional journey, was I really ready to forego it all?"

It seemed daunting. Yet, the unwavering support of my family emboldened me to leap into this new chapter of my life. I am eternally grateful to them for their unwavering support.

With their encouragement, I embarked on a quest to explore opportunities in the aviation industry. I sought out cadet pilot programs both locally and abroad.

I was well aware that the competition for a placement would be fierce. Still, I never expected it to be so cutthroat until I experienced it firsthand. I found myself among hundreds of younger and hungrier applicants competing for limited slots.

Many had aviation or aerospace backgrounds, possessing actual flying hours or a pilot's licence like a PPL. In other words, these individuals were lifelong dreamers of becoming pilots, making me doubt my capability to stand out. The numerous rejected applications over the years also confirmed my doubts. Nevertheless, despite these challenges, I remained steadfast in my pursuit.

Finally, after years of rejection and perseverance, I received the news that I was accepted into the JSA cadet program, which made every setback and disappointment worth it. The conditional offer I signed with JSA felt like a new beginning, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement.

Obtaining my CPL began with Revion Ground School in January 2019. When I first learned about Revion in 2018 through an internet search, limited information was available. Upon interacting with other cadets, I discovered that a single instructor all but headed the ground school. I was sceptical.

However, Youhao laid my scepticism to rest when I met him on the first day of ground school. His meticulous approach to outlining the lesson plans' planning and structure and providing all necessary learning materials to aid our studies showed his passion and dedication. It was evident that he could effectively guide us through the 14 papers.

Maintaining an open-door policy, he fostered an environment where we were encouraged to approach him with any difficulties or questions. The logical sequencing of the 14 subjects, delivered with patience and clarity, greatly facilitated our learning. Furthermore, the organisation of field trips allowed us to extend our learning beyond the classroom and provide practical applications within the industry.

Our visit to the Airbus Asia Training Centre

We were also all encouraged to assist one another throughout the ground school. I found that teaching others was an effective method of solidifying my understanding. Through Youhao's efforts, the ground school felt like a closely-knit family, providing a safe and supportive atmosphere.

One of the many celebrations/outings Youhao arranged for us

Although tackling the 14 papers in 6 months was no easy feat, to say the least, my engineering background proved advantageous at times, making it easier to approach certain topics.

I am grateful to Youhao and Mr. Wong for their wealth of knowledge and experience. They have always gone above and beyond to assist us in our studies. They made me feel welcome and made my time at the ground school enjoyable.

We completed the ground school in June 2019 and were ready to take our next step in New Zealand.

Graduation Dinner

Our sendoff party to New Zealand

We were filled with excitement when we first arrived in Hamilton, New Zealand, to commence our flight training with L3 Harris. The campus accommodations would be our home for the next ten months (or so we thought).

Thankfully, upon arrival, I found a welcoming community of Revion/JSA cadets who made settling in a breeze. They showed us the ropes and made the in-processing procedures a piece of cake. We could always rely on them to assist us with any uncertainties.

Welcome dinner in Hamilton with our seniors

L3 Harris was a well-established flight training school in the region. It boasted a fleet of over 40 aircraft, including the Diamond DA-20 Katana, Cessna-172, and Diamond DA-42 Twin Star. With a staff of over 100, the school trained cadets for numerous international airlines, including British Airways, Dragonair, Jetstar Group, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Royal Brunei Airlines, and more.

Learning the basics of flying Visual Flight Rules (VFR) in the single-engine DA-20 was thrilling and challenging. I would be remiss to say that my flight training wasn't all roses and sunshine. I did have some difficulties in the early stages, especially with my confidence in landing. However, with the guidance of the experienced instructors, I gradually built up my confidence, and it all came together when I completed my first solo flight.

Initially, navigating flights under VFR using paper charts seemed like a hassle (aren't all commercial airlines using GPS nowadays? C'mon!). Still, I quickly realised the importance of learning the fundamentals. Soon, using these tools to navigate the country became second nature—a dance of bearing, speed, and time. Likewise, radio calls proved daunting at first, but they became as natural as breathing with practice.

The solo navigation flights were the highlight of my training. There's nothing as freeing as being by yourself 5,000 ft above the countryside. But with that freedom comes great responsibility—making critical decisions solo is a test like no other.

My solo night flight above Hamilton city

As my training progressed smoothly, news of a virus wreaking havoc on the other side of the world began to cast a shadow over everything.

There's a lot to remember. The COVID-19 pandemic brought our training to a halt. Things looked grim as the country went into lockdown for weeks, which turned into months. Then came the news from JSA: downsizing, furloughs, and no induction in the near future. So, there won't be any type-rating training with HSA, even after obtaining our CPL.

Despite these challenges, I decided to complete my CPL training, optimistic that things would improve soon.

After a long standstill, the lockdowns in New Zealand were gradually lifted, and we were allowed to resume training. I began my Instrument Flying Rules (IFR) training on the Cessna-172, learning to rely solely on the instruments. This was followed by the multi-engine training on the DA-42, focusing on familiarising with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

Learning SOPs in the DA-42 Twin Star simulator

Flying DA-42 Twin Star

After over 14 months in Hamilton, I finally achieved my CPL and Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR). It was a long and arduous training period, and I was relieved to have completed it.

Finally done with flight training

Now, it's time to head home. The flight training experience was the most joyful part of my journey. I'll hold those moments close. I also want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my fellow cadets who supported me throughout my time in Hamilton, making my training and stay there a truly memorable experience.

My last day at L3

When I returned to Singapore at the end of 2020, the country was still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. Fortunately, the maritime industry was not as severely affected as other industries. I returned to the workforce with no new information on JSA's current status quo.

As the years passed slowly, I always had faith in the aviation industry's resilience, and it was bound to recover to its former days. After almost two years, we received word from JSA that they were again in a position to start receiving new pilots, and we were called back for training.

I began my Airbus A320 type-rating course in August 2023 at Haite Aviation Safety and Training (AST) with some familiar faces and some new ones. With training spanning only three months, it was a challenging but rewarding journey with a steep learning curve. Believe me when I say it would be much easier if you worked with your type-rating buddy, learning the multitude of SOPs and all the system knowledge together, helping each other closely along the way.

Completing the type-rating marked the start of our induction into JSA, with further training and development lying ahead.

Completed A320 Type-Rating

As I continue my career in the skies, my final advice for all aspiring pilots is to embrace perseverance and growth.

"Challenges may arise at any stage of your training. Still, by consistently striving to be better than who you were yesterday, you'll realise that, sooner or later, you'll eventually acquire the knowledge and skills needed to reach your aspirations."

A surreal moment sitting behind the controls of an A320 for the first time

Done with A320 Base Training



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