First Officer Lee Bailey joined AirTanker in January 2017 under the Cadet Pilot programme, which is helping us to grow our cadre of civil pilots. Here he talks about the experience of completing his training and how becoming a pilot has fulfilled a lifelong ambition.
“I can’t really explain where my passion for aviation came from. As a child, nobody in my family had any connection to the industry. But my earliest memory is of being fascinated by aircraft and the science of flying.
I took subjects like Maths and Physics at school with an ambition to fly with the RAF. However, a history of childhood asthma meant I was unable to pass the RAF aircrew medical. Instead, I joined the Army as an aircraft technician. Eventually, in 2010 after a couple of stints in Afghanistan I came to something of a crossroads. Did I want to pursue a commission in the Army as an Engineering Officer or to follow my heart and try to become a commercial pilot? I just knew that I would always have wondered ‘what if’, so I decided to go for it.
Training to be a pilot is expensive. I had no house and no means of raising a loan so instead I opted to become a licensed engineer and to use this as a stepping stone to fund my flight training.”