Surbiton High School Alumni Speaks to Pupils about Becoming a Pilot

Posted: 20th November 2019

We were delighted to welcome Abigail Croft back to speak at both the Senior School and Girls’ Preparatory School last Friday.

Abbie joined the School in Year 3 and stayed until Year 13, leaving the Sixth Form with A-levels in Computing, Economics, Maths and Physics. Abbie went on to study Aerospace Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire and joined the University of London Air Squadron where she continued flying whilst completing a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering at Brunel University.

Whilst speaking to Abbie about her dream of becoming a pilot, she recalled her interview with Miss Budge, the Head of the Girls’ Preparatory School at the time, where she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, to which she responded a pilot. She believes this was partly made possible because of the support of the School, as Abbie is dyslexic. She believes:

The support provided through School for my dyslexia meant I was able to go on to university, study what I did and go through flight school.”

She then began a 2-year training programme with Flybe as a cadet and is now a first officer flying the Dash 8 Q400 propeller aircraft based in Southampton. During her training, she learnt about the weather, cloud types, aircraft engines as well as how to fly an aeroplane. She has had to complete 14 exams in six months. Although the training is intense, she said it is worth it because her office is above the clouds every day with the most spectacular views. Every six months, pilots must undergo SIM training (flight simulation) to ensure they are competent in dealing with any eventuality that may occur in an aircraft. She needs to reach 1,500 hours flying time before she can become a captain, which should take her between 18 months and three years. One of the most important aspects of a career as a pilot is working as part of a team and being able to adapt quickly as you never know who you will be working with until you turn up for your shift.

Abbie went on to explain there are plenty of schemes out there for women who want to train as pilots and Abi is more than happy to talk to anyone interested in a career in aviation.

Categories: Alumni Whole School