A discussion with Manish Patel, our Chief Flight Instructor

September 19, 2019

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Manish Patel is the Chief Flight Instructor at our brand-new fair-weather training base at Castellón Airport in Spain. Manish leads a team of three Flight Instructors, which will be rising to around 20 over the next 12-18 months. He is currently working with our inaugural EASA Integrated ATPL cadets as they begin their core flight training in Castellón. We caught up with Manish to hear about his experience and why he enjoys his role.

How did you get into the industry?

I was totally obsessed with aircraft and space flight when I was a child and this obsession stuck with me as I grew up through my teenage years and beyond. I left school at 18 with a selection of A-Levels and secured a job working in a medical laboratory. In my spare time I was keeping my eye out for sponsorship opportunities to learn to fly and I even applied to the Royal Air Force, but was unsuccessful. Eventually, I realised that I needed to fund the training myself and in 1990 I booked my first lesson. I continued booking lessons around my day job until I secured my Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and Instrument Rating (IR) in 1998.

When did you decide you wanted to be a Flight Instructor?

I first became a Flight Instructor in 2005. I was initially attracted to the role because it was a great way for me to build up my flight hours and experience before applying for airline pilot roles. It did not take long for me to realise that I was well-suited to teaching and, other than a brief stint as a pilot with Air New Zealand, I’ve remained an instructor ever since – working for various training institutions before taking up my latest role as Chief Flight Instructor at Skyborne.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love how rewarding my job is as I help highly motivated people achieve their goals. It is an incredible feeling when you receive an email or Facebook message from a past student with a photo of them wearing their four bars in the cockpit of an airliner.

What skills have you developed during your career?

I have certainly developed my communication skills since I began instructing and see this as a vital attribute to anybody in the flight training industry. As for all teachers, good communication is essential as it is very important to be able to adapt to different people and character types.

In a previous role I was introduced to a cadet who had regressed in their training. Every new Flight Instructor had been tasked with trying to get the best out of them and, when it came to my turn, I simply told him that we would be going out for the sheer enjoyment of flying and not focusing on circuits and drills. A couple of sessions later, his confidence had been restored and he was back doing circuits again – all it took was being able to recognise that he was struggling with his training and working with him slightly differently.

Why did you join Skyborne?

I was attracted to Skyborne from the first minute I heard about the academy. Too many flight training institutions hold quantity and expansion as their key drivers; however, Skyborne is focused on quality. I was also attracted to the concept that Skyborne had been built from the ground up, with no pre-conceptions. Being a key part of something new is really exciting.