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RYANAIR CADET BLOG: Hugh Maguire

Hi All, my name is Hugh Maguire, and I’m a cadet on the Ryanair Mentored Programme at AFTA. I’m progressing nicely through my training at the moment, so let’s get up to speed about who I am and what stage I’m at.

After leaving school, I studied Mechanical Engineering, and got my Master’s Degree. Through this time I gained huge knowledge and appreciation for the effort that goes into an aircraft before it ever takes flight, and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Following my degree I worked as an Engineer, but everyday eyes were pointed skyward, I would always be looking out for planes flying overhead, or tracking them online, and all this time wishing I was up there. Engineering was fantastic, and a great basis to have, but like many other pilots, I didn’t like the 9 to 5 office job, I longed to be up in the air. So in April 2020 I switched my career path and began my flight training with AFTA.

Beginning in the midst of the pandemic was a tough choice, but I am extremely grateful I did it. Training through the pandemic allows me to be ready for the recovery and industry growth. I started in a class of 15 students, and we began with our PPL theory via Zoom. Once restrictions allowed we went to Cork to begin flight training in June 2020. The wheels lifting off the ground on my first flight is a feeling I’ll never forget, pure joy.

For the initial stages of training I got the opportunity to fly out of AFTA’s second base in Waterford. This was an extremely valuable opportunity. With a smaller group, and a quieter airspace, it’s a great way to ease you into flying. It was there that I achieved my first major milestone, my first solo. Similar to my first flight, this was an incredible feeling, but this time there is no instructor there with you. The instructors did a great job teaching us, I knew what I had to do, I knew the steps I had to take to bring the aircraft back, and land. Even after the wheels touch down it doesn’t really sink in what you’ve just done. Just a few short weeks beforehand I had no flying experience, and there I was having just flown on my own for the first time, I couldn’t believe it. For the next few weeks I continued my lessons, I completed the rest of my solo flights, including cross country navigation flights between Cork, Shannon, and Waterford.

It was only then that the real challenge so far began, the ATPLs. The ATPLs are 14 exams covering 14 different subjects giving you an in-depth knowledge of many aspects of aviation and being a pilot. I’m fortunate to be through them now, but anyone who’s finished them, or is studying for them at the moment, will tell you that they require a lot of hard work.

In October, the Ryanair cadets got a chance to visit a Ryanair 737 in Cork airport. This was a great break from ATPLs and a glimpse into what is to come. Thanks to Base Captain Brian Comey for showing us around the outside and inside the aircraft. Looking forward to when it’s my turn to pilot the 737.

I am back flying now, and I am experiencing changeable weather which is why it is invaluable to train in and experience the challenging northern European climate, as it arms you well for a future airline career. I am getting lots of flights, and enjoying every minute of it. I recently passed my PPL Skills Test, so now I’m on to hour-building, or PICO (Pilot In Command under Observation) as it’s known officially. This is an extremely rewarding time of my training, but more on that in the next blog. All the best!