The Importance of Passion and Discipline in your Aviation Career - Blue Chip Flight School
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The Importance of Passion and Discipline in your Aviation Career

Aviation Career

The Importance of Passion and Discipline in your Aviation Career

The Importance of Passion and Discipline in your Aviation Career

All of us say that we have a passion for aviation and are disciplined in our approach to everything aviation but what does this actually mean? Before I explain any further, I would like to quote some paragraphs of a post of an aviation forum on Facebook and the passage was posted on International Pilots day and is Titled “Heres to the Pilots” and it goes like this:

“We operate a safety-critical role under high pressure to deliver a consistent product, day in and day out.”

Humans were never meant to fly. Physics, meteorology, psychology, and physiology remind us constantly. But we do it anyway.

This is often romanticised as an epic struggle of Man vs Environment. We know better. It’s showing up everyday expecting the worst.

It takes a toll, whether we can accept that or not. Physically, mentally, emotionally.

We are not allowed to show our humanity. We feel responsible to be the hero everyone says we are. But everyone pays the price.

A doctor’s visit could be a death sentence for our career. Not going could be an actual one. The choice is ours.

Our regulators want robots. They’ll settle for flawed humans. Policies rooted in antiquity make this life much harder than we deserve.

But we get up. At 04:30. Little sleep. Socked in by Blowing Snow. Missing another game/recital concert. Short dismissive texts from our spouses. Hell of a day to go flying.

But we make it happen. Because what else are we supposed to do? Get jobs in offices and wake for the morning news? That life was never ours. The script just won’t fit.

So we fly. Because if you strip away all the BS, Flying = Freedom. It grants us PURPOSE, and sunsets are prettier up there.

So here’s to the Pilots.”

When I was asked to write this blog, I thought to myself how on earth do I tell people about the passion, discipline and dedication required to become a SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL PILOT? That same evening, I came across the post quoted above.

So, lets evaluate each of the headings above and discuss them individually and I will give my of my own personal experiences thus far in my aviation career to date.


So before we discuss this, lets define Passion: “It is a strong and barely controllable emotion”. What does this mean. Well simply put it is the uncontrollable urge to be in and around aeroplanes all day, everyday and to be flying them. I often ask young prospective pilots as to why they want to fly, and the most recent overwhelming answer is always that they have a passion for aviation. When asked to describe their passion, the answer is “I want to travel the world, or I like to travel” or something along those lines.

As mentioned, I would give examples from my own life, my passion for everything flying started at age 3, the first time I set foot onto an aircraft, and got invited to the cockpit. Upon my return, I said to my father, that when I grow up that this is what I would be doing for a living. His reply to me was “Yes my son, you will meet a Milkman, a Fireman, a Policeman etc. then you will want to be doing that for the rest of your life as well…”. I think this is the mindset for any parent because at age 3 and for a very long time after that you are impressionable and to change your mind is very easy. The fact of the matter is that for the next 13 years of my life (up to grade 9) when subject choices had to be made, I was at every airshow I could afford, I spent all my pocket money buying aviation magazines (for those too young to remember we had printed media back then) and aircraft models to build. I had become absorbed in everything flying. When asked at this point about subject choices, my mind was made up, and I elected to do the sciences route, i.e Full Maths, Science, Geography, Computer Science and naturally the two compulsory languages, and explained to my parents that I would be flying as a career.

Fast forward 3 years to Matric, I had to decide, and I had still been spending all my free monies on the above-mentioned items, missing parties on weekends with friends to attend airshows etc. and when asked what I would be doing the following year, I explained to my folks that I would be going flying. The reply was never, Varsity first as there was no money to learn to fly. I had a very respectful conversation with my folks explaining, that they could choose the degree then, but not to expect me to finish it, as I would then work my own way towards a Pilots licence. Which I dually did.

Now the question that I have to you the reader is at any point did I mention the need to see the world? Even my wife once mentioned you love to fly, but have no desire to see the world or new places, to which I replied, “For us as pilots it’s about the journey and not the byproduct which is the destination.”

So, the passion for aviation, needs to go about the primary goal, which is to be set free from our earthly bonds, and the myth of gravity, to soar through the heavens, and yes as an aside and an added bonus, we do get to see places and experience things that many other people may never be fortunate to see for themselves.

So if your passion to be a pilot is based on travel, rather become a business mogul, a travel agent or something else, because for us to see and experience all of these destinations etc, we have to work very hard and have to deal with the immense pressure of delivering an aluminium tube and its contents safely to its destination and again for the return journey home.


As pilots, we are required and expected to operate within very strict rules and laws, and this is defined as discipline. If you break a rule or law on the road whilst operating a motor vehicle, what happens? Well, at the very least you are fined, and at worst, depending on the severity of the infringement you can be arrested and face incarceration. Well, in aviation, a transgression of the SACAA regulations will lead to the same or similar results. However as from the quoted passage above, we as pilots operate with another set of less forgiving laws. These are the laws of Physics, Physiology and a transgression of these laws do carry a sentence without the possibility of parole, and that is the death sentence. As pilots we live and die with our mistakes, and without a sound understanding of these laws, you will most probably have a very short career.

The reason these two categories have been grouped is because, yes as humans, like a river flowing across the landscape, look for the path of least resistance, to make our pathway, in the case of a river to the ocean, as easy as possible. However, aviation being the unforgiving environment that it is due to an unmentionable number of variables, there is no easy path! A global understanding of, not just the regulations, but most things natural, we have to know most if not everything about the physical world around us, hence the vast number of theoretical exams we have to write.

Without this understanding of the natural world, you are setting yourself up for failure, and possibly worse, to injure yourself or a passenger, or worse…..

So, there are easy ways, learn questions and answers to get through the exams, because they are just there to stop the fun, well truth of the matter they are there to possibly one day save your or your passengers lives. Without a full understanding of how things work, or are meant to work, you cannot successfully create an end-product. Getting to where I am now, I missed many family holidays, whilst working towards my CPL and Instructors Rating, to stay home and study, I missed countless parties with friends and time with my two very young sons back then to be studying for the ATPL subjects, it is time you will never get back, but you can make up for it in the future.

This theoretical knowledge and full understanding are not limited to the CAA examinations, but extends well beyond the initial qualification requirements. Every new aircraft type you learn to fly, there is a technical examination required to be passed and again to get your heads into the books to understand the systems and complications surrounding that aircraft or variant and any differences that are unique to that aircraft type, the B737 Max springs to mind as I type this.

So in closing on this topic, don’t be a river and just go with the flow and follow the path of least resistance, because that is what everyone does, but rather when an obstacle gets put in your way, rather ask the best question ever, and you did so up to the age of at least seven years old countless times per day, “WHY?”. Ask why it is so, and find the answer, this will give you a more global understanding of the topic an you will progress.