Capt. Faraz (@FlightCopilot) - My journey to becoming an Airline Pilot.

How it all began and how it is today. This is my story...

I was born in London but partially brought up in East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. Like many others, I caught that aviation bug from a very young age. I Boarded a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet with my father at the age of six on my way to London for a family holiday. It was at night and the whole cockpit was lit up with those analogue dials and buttons. I stood frozen as I glanced at the Pilots doing their work. It was love at first site. I was hooked and the next words that came out of my mouth were, “daddy, I want to be a pilot when I grow up!”

Throughout the years ahead, I would spend my weekends visiting the airports to see airplanes magically taking off into the skies. I was so amazed with the magic of flight and the fact that pilots were paid to do this job. I wanted is so badly that I even coloured four stripes on my school shirt so I looked like a pilot. Little did I know using a permanent marker pen meant trouble with my mum later! I remember often having a career chat with my father and no matter how many times I mentioned 'Airline Pilot' to him, he would jokingly respond by telling me,

"You can't be a pilot, you're useless in school! If you make it as a pilot, I will personally shake your hand one day!"

This was I guess his way of making me work harder at getting better grades at school. I remained focused throughout my years and just prior to starting my O-level equivalent college years, on August 7th, 1998, a terrorist bomb explosion shook the city of Nairobi.

At the time, the entire city went into vast confusion and panic but little did we know, the explosion was targeted at the U.S embassy where my father had worked for all his career as an accountant. I unfortunately lost my father in this tragic event and my life turned completely. Some months after the event, my aunt gifted me a few flying lessons to take my mind off things and for the first time in my life, I took control of a Cessna 172. The experience was incredible and I couldn't believe I was learning how to fly for real!

A year later, we moved back to London, England where I was to start a completely new life. I lost all my focus for the first part of my year there and had given up on any career or life goals. I got plenty of help from my new school teachers and friends at the time and at one point remembered what my father had said to me. I knew I had to break free from that sorrow and prove to him that his son was capable of achieving this dream of becoming a pilot. I started working hard in school again, took a few flying lessons at my local flying club and started to visit pilot career shows at London Heathrow airport. I had become very good friends with a British Airways B747 pilot who I met on board the aircraft when I revisited Africa for my fathers U.S embassy memorial service. He was my new mentor in life and this truly boosted me so much to keep my focus and dreams alive. We would often talk and he would guide me throughout on what to work on and how to practise for my future British Airways sponsored pilot scheme. It was all going well until 9/11 happened in America. The whole world came to its feet and I was straight away taken back to my fathers incident.

The airline/aviation industry suffered severely and the cadet pilot schemes were all stopped until further notice. I felt I was back to where I started my journey from and my dream of becoming a pilot fading away. Terrorism was the blame for all this yet again! I almost gave up entirely but realised this meant I lose and the bad people who did all this win. I was not willing to live with that thought and regret in my life and every time I felt fallen, the words, &