Aerobility flyer Simon Li achieves his Commercial Pilots Licence

What a milestone in my life.

I can remember my first flying lesson with Mike Owen four years ago at Lasham, and from not even knowing where the foot brakes were to now having a frozen Airline Transport Pilot Licence has been an incredible journey.

I always wanted to be a pilot from a very young age, and still remember at First School making paper aeroplanes with winglets on. Having dyslexia I find it hard to read and write during learning and subsequently have periods of not feeling confident with myself. Having left school with average grades, I was told that with my dyslexia I could never be a pilot.

In 2007 I still wanted to be a Commercial Pilot so I started doing some research on how to achieve this goal, and after some thorough reading I found the modular route was best suited for me, as it is very flexible and allowed me to do the training at my own pace.

I started my PPL training in 2010 with Aerobility, and what an exciting time it was! I was only flying on Saturdays when the weather was good enough, if not I would be on the ground reading the PPL books. Doing my first solo was the best feeling in the world as I was fully in charge of the aircraft for the first time. Having gained my PPL in 2011, I went to Bristol Ground School for my ATPL theoretical course, consisting of 14 modules. The theory was not easy at all, I have to admit, and I had to do many hours of reading and self-study in order to pass all required modules. Determination was the key – I’d come this far and I wasn’t going to stop here!

After doing my ATPL theory I had to fulfil my hour-building criteria before starting the next phase of training. I needed 100 hours as pilot in command also a night rating, which I did at Aerobility HQ. The hour-building was very enjoyable on Saturdays and Sundays as I could simply get the map out and see where I wanted to go, even making two trips across the Channel to France! Flying at night is so different from daytime; the views are amazing and seeing the cities lit up made me realise what a great career lies ahead of me. For anyone who wants to experience flying I would say that must try a night flight if you get a chance.

For the final part of the training Mike Miller-Smith helped me get in contact with CTC Aviation to do the multi-engine (MEP) rating, instrument rating (IR) and commercial pilot license (CPL) through their CTC TAKEOFF course. This was another exciting time for me, learning how to fly a multi-engine aircraft with a glass cockpit. The training was intensive with lots new challenges. But with lots of hard work and coaching from my instructors I managed to get a first-time pass on my Instrument Rating, and soon afterwards I took my Commercial Pilot Licence skills test along with the Multi Engine Rating and I gained a first-series pass on the 23th of April.

The day I hold my Commercial Pilots Licence in my hand will be a day I will never forget for the rest of my life, having achieved a milestone to which I have dedicated 110% and have spent the last four years aspiring to. The journey has been a rollercoaster ride throughout, and I would like to thank Aerobility, Bristol Ground School, and of course CTC Aviation for the opportunities they have given me to achieve this. I have met many friends and mentors over the last couple of years which have helped me gain more confidence in myself and my abilities, and I would strongly advise those who are striving to achieve their dreams, whether it is pilot training or otherwise, to stay focused, believe in yourself, and to enjoy it at your own pace.

Onwards and upwards! Simon.