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Pilot Erik: My Story

Hello, I am Erik, 27 years old Volotea Airlines pilot. I was born in Italy, in a small city next to Trieste on the border between Italy and Slovenia. For all those who cannot locate this city on a map, well... just place my hometown somewhere 150km East of Venice, a well known city in Northern Italy.

I work as a First Officer for Volotea, a fast growing Spanish low cost airline. I love sport, animals and travelling but as you might guess it's not that easy to combine all of them together. I have a dog that unfortunately cannot follow me on my journeys or stay with me at my homebase, but I am lucky enough to have my mum who is taking great care of him, back at home. I love sport but I have one of the most sedentary jobs you can find, with a non 9-to-5 working schedule and so sometimes sport isn’t that easy to fit in. Luckily we don’t need a gym to be active, water sports or plain running can suffice. As for many of us, I went to high school and then to university where I studied agriculture. After graduating the thought of becoming a pilot remained in my heart.

I always wanted to be a pilot as from a very young age I was dreaming about those huge flying machines and asking my parents to take me to the airport, just to watch them take off and land. It was for me a dream job for me, and I am lucky enough because I made my dream a reality.

I don’t have anyone in my family involved in the aviation business and every time I was asking my parents on how to become a pilot, there was always the same reply: “its not easy, do something else, only a few people can do it, it cost money, it's dangerous” etc…

It seemed impossible and the dream began to fade.

For this reason I went the classic way, high school, then onto university to study in a field which would lead to zero adverse comments from my parents. I then went onto complete my MSc, but as we all know, when you study something that you don’t fully love, especially a Masters degree, problems start to arise.

It was on a trip from London to Italy where fate intervened. Just moments before departure a First Officer came and sat down on the aisle seat of my row. This is something that a very few people know about. It was on that day, on that flight while admiring an amazing sunset and after my conversation with that “pilot” who said:

“If this is your dream, and you always think about it, go for it.”

The following morning I searched for a flight school. A few weeks later I went for my medical examinations and was fortunate enough to be able to gain a First Class Aviation Medical certificate. My career in aviation took off 14 months later when I passed my Commercial Pilot license.

I love my job because when you do what you love you’ll truly never work one day in your life. I am living my dream. I love everything about it. I love the amount of knowledge we have in aviation, the strong cooperation between people, the respect, timetables, efficiency and the magic of flying itself.

I honestly think I am a morning person, but wake up calls at 03:00 AM are very difficult for me, especially when you are not used to them! What helps is the energy you get from your crew, the smiles and the views we get every day, its something I wish every person on earth could “taste” just once. I love the uniform and our passengers, but if you ask me for the best aspect of my job its without any doubt, the view of amazing sunrises and sunsets I can see from the flight deck.

What’s the craziest story that ever happened to you as a pilot?:

That is a good question. Well, luckily, for me nothing ever happened in relation to the safety of the flight or crew (as you know, our highest priority is always safety and the industry has very high standards), but I have an anecdote from last summer that I would love to share.

We just completed boarding for one of our flights to Heraklion and all of a sudden, without prior notice we got a CTOT (calculated take off time) delay of over 2 hours! The news totally caught me and the captain off guard and the decision to keep all our passengers inside the aircraft for that long was very hard to take. We could have disembarked the passengers in order to give them some fresh air, however if the delay was reduced and we got our takeoff clearance then we would have to wait for all the passengers to board again. The decision had been taken. We now had to inform the passengers that they would not be allowed to leave for 2 hours. The announcement was the best part of the story.

“In the meantime that we are on the ground, if anyone will be interested, just come to the very front and we’ll show you the cockpit”.

One third of the aircraft came to visit us! I was very happy to show to children, guys and older people my office but something in the following days left me in tears. Days after this event, a passenger sent me a direct message on Instagram stating:

“You were my pilot on the flight to Crete. Because of our large delay you were so kind to let us into the cockpit. The whole crew was very polite and helpful. A few days ago I saw your picture on Instagram and I just wanted to say hello and thank you”.

Finding a job is not an easy task for newly graduated pilots. Finishing your CPL (Commercial Pilot License) and getting your certificates gives you the feeling of truly being on top in your aviation career. Sadly, the end of your pilot training is just the start of your career and you are now the lowest rank ever. You feel good about being fully qualified but the airlines see you as a Student Pilot.

A few months after finishing my training I was able to join the company for who I work nowadays. I started here as a cadet, following the daily operations from the jumpseat (observer seat in the cockpit). With training, a lot of study and dedication I became a second officer and then a first officer. I like my company and the "familiar environment" that characterises our operations. I really hope to have the possibility to grow professionally in the company and one day become a captain.


Pilot Erik has a large Instagram presence go check out his great content!

Instagram: @Pilot.Erik

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