Rui Lopes - Norwegian - B737
1) Tell us what made you want to become a pilot?
When I was a kid I always dreamed about things that could fly. Aircraft, helicopters, spaceships, you name it! This dream grew into a strong passion and I couldn't see my self doing anything else other than piloting an aircraft.
2) What aircraft did you fly your initial training?
I did my first flight on the Piper 28. Moved on to the Piper 27 Aztec twin engine and then Piper 31 Cherokee twin engine.
3) What was your hardest part of your training?
The hardest part of my training I must say was my ATPL exams, specifically meteorology. I really struggled from the beginning, because me and my classmates were the first students at that point to undertake JAR exams. I failed my first and second take on the meteorology exam. It was at that point I started to think that I would never get the ATPL. However, I got a grip of my self and studied even harder. I was so motivated and put in maximum effort to gather all information regarding that subject. At my final and last attempt I had passed!
4) What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?
Some people think that we only sit there and push some buttons when flying. If they only knew the complexity of aviation. If they only knew the hard training behind and the selection process. All the hard work we do. All the effort, money and time spent.We are professional aviators that will fly you home safely.
5) What advice would you give to aspiring pilots?
My advice to aspiring pilots is to start to prepare themselves early. Stay prepared at all times. Prepare your self before you do your initial assessment, before your flight training with your instructor, when you take your exams etc. You prior preparation will reflect that you are motivated, eager to learn, and it will make things a lot easier.
6) What is your favourite destination to fly to?
One of my favourite destinations to fly to is Nice in France (NCE, LFMN). Spectacular views when you start to descend and you have the Alps below you. Later on towards the airport, we enter a complex airspace with loads of traffic. A challenging circling approach over the beach in Nice if you are lucky to fly that approach.
7) Where did you train, and describe your experience training there?
From the beginning I was initially suppose to do my training in the US, but the authorities in US/Europe changed the rules when it came to licenses in the US versus Europe. Basically if you were to study in the US you where forced to study again in Europe to convert your license to a European license. So I stayed at home in Sweden, Gothenburg and applied to 'Svenskpilotutbildning'. It took 2 and a half years of intense and hard study, but also very fun and exciting. Me and my classmates were the first students studying under the new rules of JAR (Joint Aviation Requirements) ATPL (Airline Transport License) the flight school didn't know exactly what to expect on all the exams. Despite this we managed to succeed and progress. Almost all the cadets in my class passed the ATPL! It was hard but fun. This was back in 2002-2005! Today that school has grown to be an international flight school with loads of ex students flying for many different companies.
8) What has been your best moment in the air?
One of my best moments is when for the first time, I flew my solo flight without my instructor. What an amazing feeling!!!! I was screaming with total happiness when I did my first takeoff totally alone on the Piper 28.
9) Was there something you wish you did prior to starting your flight training, that would be beneficial for aspiring pilots to do ?
Before I started my training I did loads of research when it came to schools, cost etc. I had 2 different jobs to save some money for the initial training. If you have the chance. Put some money away so you don't need to take a loan of the total amount. Start early.