My journey to become an airline pilot

My first pilot assessment – my first big setback.

Without trying to sound like a show off, life in general had been easy for me. I’ve got a loving and supportive family. Always had great friends around, never been bullied. School was reasonably easy for me. I’ve never really felt insecure about myself. Until I decided I wanted to become a pilot. Life just began to become a whole lot harder.

One of the many trips I did during my 3 gap years. Where my biggest concern were visa, vaccines & jetlags.

Being found not good enough for the KLM flight academy was the first time in my life that I wasn’t good enough for something. Finally knowing what I wanted to do with my life and then having this guy telling me I wasn’t good enough, that I failed (the assessment), sucked big time.

Looking back at my performance during that assessment, I can’t really blame them to be honest. The one to blame was me. I highly underestimated the assessments and I wasn’t really prepared. After all, life had been easy so far, so I thought I was just good enough, no preparation needed.

Hereby I’ll give you guys some examples that show my lack of preparation. The first selection round was with a psychologist. To start with; I arrived late. It was because of traffic and I did call them when I was in the car, but it was not the best start.

The psychologist asked many questions, but there are two that I’ll never forget and maybe neither does he (not in a good way).

Him: “Can you tell me when KLM was established?”
Me: “I don’t know” (I never lacked honesty)
Him: “Can you take a guess?”
Me: “1800 maybe?”

For the people who don’t know the important aviation dates by heart, let me enlighten you about how wrong my answer was. The Wright brothers are the guys that are known for doing the first flight with a powered aircraft. This was considered to be the first successful airplane. This happened in 1903.

I had just told the guy that I thought KLM was established 100 years before aviation even existed. This question hadn’t only showed my lack of knowledge about KLM, it also showed my lack of knowledge about aviation in general.

Second of my – you’re not scoring points here – answers:

Him: “Can you tell me about what you remember from the open day of the KLM flight academy?”
Me: “Oh that’s an easy one”
Him: “Go ahead..”
Me: “I haven’t been, so there’s nothing to remember”

Yes that’s right. I was so enthusiastic about finally knowing what to do with my life, that I based my flight school decision on an article from an aviation magazine, without even going for a visit at the actual school or doing much research.

Needless to say, lessons were learned. I wasn’t invincible, I wasn’t that incredibly smart that I could just get myself in flight school without preparing. Now looking back at it, I can really laugh about my ignorance, but back then it was hard. Hearing you’re not good enough is hard and it sucks.

This was part two of my series of how I became an airline pilot. In my next blog I’ll talk about my assessment with EPST. The assessment I actually passed (spoiler alert). I’ll talk more in detail about what to expect and what is important during flight school assesments (be well prepared to start with).   

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