Hallo allemaal! (Hi everyone!)
My name is Vincent, but most people just call me Vince. I’m from the Netherlands and I have been in aviation since 1998.
Even though being a pilot never was a dream of mine when I was a kid (I had no idea what I wanted to become) I’m really happy I ended up in the flight deck. I guess the initial spark was a scenic flight I did in my early teens, during which the real pilot gave me the controls every now and then. I learned that day that I enjoyed it a lot and that it was something that came easy to me. I never thought of making it my profession though, this moment came almost a decade later when I found myself studying Artificial Intelligence at the University of Amsterdam and realized this wasn’t the life I wanted.
That initial spark kicked in and I started to collect information about the aviation business. One of the first brochures I got my hands on was that of the KLM flight academy. This is a two year educational course in the Netherlands that preps you to become a pilot with KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines, the blue ones ;-) ) Obviously I had to do a lot of tests and evaluation before getting in, but in 1998 I was accepted to the academy and started my adventure there.
It was great fun, but hard work. The flying part was not the biggest problem for me, but I had to step up my game to pass all the theoretical exams, after failing some. I remember ‘navigation’ wasn’t my favourite and I had to retake some exams to pass eventually.
I graduated in 2001, but unfortunately KLM wasn’t hiring pilots at that moment and it looked like I had to wait for approximately 2 years for my job. My luck was that Lufthansa was in need of young pilots and they were hiring. I had to pass the German DLR test (I’ve never been as tired as I was after those tests), but I was proud to pass and start working as a first officer A320 for Lufthansa.
After a two year period KLM was hiring again and I decided to move back to the Netherlands. My career there started as a cruise relief pilot on the B747, after that I got my captaincy in the Fokker50 and Fokker 70/100 and I am now a first officer A330 flying intercontinental flights. Also I specialised in training during this period, which now makes me a type rating instructor and examiner (enroute and in the simulator), as well as a human factors trainer (classroom sessions).
The future is a bit uncertain these days, but I hope to take a few more steps in my career, ending as a captain on a A330/B787/B777 with KLM. The best advice I have for people starting in aviation is to come prepared, whatever your challenge is. If you combine this with enthusiasm you’re halfway there already. Always challenge yourself where you can to better, whether it’s your first flight ever, or in the last year prior your retirement. Become an expert, build up resilience by questioning your own decisions and looking for out of the box solutions.
But most of all, enjoy it !
It’s the best job there is.
If you have any questions, please find me on insta: @__Vince75__