We recently caught up with pilot, Alejandro Sarta Barba, to discover his passion for aviation, the pros and cons of the job, and his thoughts about the future of aviation.
Alejandro is a former DHC8-Q400 First Officer for Flybe, a Pilot Recruiter and FTE Mentor, and a Serious Incident Investigator (IATA).
How long have you been a pilot? Tell us a little bit about your career so far.
I’ve been a pilot “since birth” practically. My first word wasn’t “mum or dad” but “avión” [the Spanish word for plane.]
I’ve “officially” been a pilot since 2017 when I was 19 years old. I got my first job at Flybe and during my 18 months there, I was chosen as a Pilot Recruiter and Mentor for the new cadets. Unfortunately, the company collapsed and I have adapted to new ways of life.
Did you always want to be a pilot?
Of course. There was no other option for me. I was 9 and I used to ask my mother “when am I going to finish this school and go to the other?” The “other” school meaning flight school.
What do you love about the job?
It’s my life, my freedom and my dream come true! There are no personal problems up there. You are so concentrated on the job and loving what you do.
What’s the hardest part about the job?
Nothing. I enjoy each and every flight!
If you weren’t a pilot, what profession do you think you’d be in?
Probably Meteorology, Natural Science or History.
How do you manage to balance a demanding job and your home life?
My “demanding job” is my home life. Flying is my life – it comes easily.
Why do you think it’s such a male dominated industry?
I believe it’s due to cultural background during the last few decades. What I find interesting is that there were more women back at the beginning of aviation, than later on.
Also, I think it is because of the stereotype of women – ‘Hostess and not pilot.’ It is admirable what they have achieved in inclusive visibility.
What advice would you give to any aspiring pilots?
Unfortunately. in this precise moment, nothing – because of the dark future in aviation right now. Before Covid, I would say “go for it, study, work, try again and again”. Passion makes everything possible.
Would you encourage your children to become a pilot?
Of course, but not now after what I’m living through now. The sacrifice my family made to get the funds for flight school was hard, and when you see some “low cost” airlines contracts for new pilots and cadets with such a low payroll, it breaks my heart. You have to have a strong passion to follow your dreams nowadays with such a difficult future ahead.
What’s the most unusual thing that’s happened to you during a flight?
The hostess came to the cockpit saying “the landing gear is out” and showed us the picture on her phone!
What is something you wish you’d known about the profession when you were starting out?
I could have gone through the “pilot cadet programme” instead of going as self-funded. The tests were the same for everybody – and I passed them all! The only thing I didn’t have was a contract straight away. That created a lot of anxiety for my family.
Who/where did you turn to for advice throughout your career?
Colleagues, parents, friends and managers.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Apart from flying, having passed the DLR, being a Pilot Recruiter and Mentor for new cadets.
What are your thoughts about the future of the profession?
It’s very dark and uncertain at the moment! I would fly a mosquito right now, anything! I have been looking for new opportunities to transfer my skills, but it is difficult as I don’t have a university degree.
However, it will eventually change for the better! Hope is the only way out of this!
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