My Pilot Journey (so far) 👩‍✈️

Michelle, a pilot training graduate from CAE Flight Academy, shares her unique journey into the aviation industry. With a background in orthopedagogy and juvenile criminology, she discovered her passion for aviation later in life. Through determination and hard work, she passed her entry exams, completed ground school, and went on to train in Arizona, Oxford, and Antwerp. Despite the challenges of graduating during a pandemic, Michelle secured a pilot apprentice position at a UK Private Charter company. Her story illustrates the importance of perseverance and commitment in pursuing your dreams.

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Hello there, my name is Michelle and I graduated from pilot training at CAE Flight Academy. Unlike most, it wasn’t my childhood dream to become a pilot. Quite surprising, as both my parents work in the aviation industry. My mother works on the ground for a big American airline company, while my father recently retired from an amazing career as a pilot.

I decided to study a degree where I could help people, as this is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. I graduated with a Bachelor degree in orthopedagogy and applied juvenile criminology. In the last 6 months of my degree I decided to complete my internship in Indonesia, Bali where I worked in an orphanage.

During my last year at university, my interest in aviation grew. I purchased CAE’s PPL books, booked an introduction flight at RAAC at Antwerp airport and flew along as a passenger with a friend who’s got a PPL! I’ve always had to work extremely hard to get the results. I never thought I would be capable of becoming a pilot. My father being ex military, retired as a 747 captain, highly experienced and always studying and reading his big pile of books… just never came across as something that is possible!

My proudest moment, which for others might not mean a lot, was when I passed my entry exams at CAE first try! I prepared a full 2 months, but never expected to pass first time… but hey… I did! That gave me the right motivation and confidence to start my pilot training at CAE. Having zero knowledge of aviation, never flown a plane before, and haven’t had any maths or physics for years, made the whole ground school training quite a challenge. I worked extremely hard, with ups and downs.

What I pride myself with, is the fact that I am extremely motivated, hard working and committed. It wasn’t easy to study all 14 subjects in only 6 months… but thanks to my determination I managed!

After passing ground school, I was sent on a Delta flight to fly to Arizona where my flight training would start. I made many memories in Arizona, for instance my first solo, my first land-away and a first time pass on my CPL! After Arizona it was time to start my IR training. I started my training in Oxford, but due to Brexit I completed it and passed my IR above average in Antwerp! Another proud moment I won’t ever forget. The most exciting part of the whole training was the APS MCC on the 737NG! Finally we were able to fly this big & more sophisticating aircraft in a full motion simulator. I learned to work as a crew: PF/PM. It was the best way to end the training.

Obviously, I never thought that when I started my pilot training, a pandemic would happen. Graduating during these times are tough… but I am grateful that I found a job in the aviation industry!

At the moment I am a pilot apprentice at a Private Charter company in the UK. As a pilot apprentice I have the opportunity to work in different departments within the company. Meanwhile I am learning how those different departments work together to accomplish a smooth operation. This knowledge and experience makes me a more informed company pilot when moving to that right hand seat! After working for a certain amount of time in these departments, the company offers a full paid TR on one of their planes! So far I’ve been working within the company for 6 months and I have learned a lot.

I truly believe that with hard work, commitment and the right motivation, you can reach more than you would ever expect! Don’t ever give up on your dreams. If your dream is to become a pilot, then I’d say go for it!

If you have any questions feel free to message me on my Instagram: Michelleherbie .

I am happy to help 👩✈️


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