The Pilot Base

Flight Attendant, Turned Pilot

February 01, 2021 Suzie McKee Season 1 Episode 2
The Pilot Base
Flight Attendant, Turned Pilot
Chapters
The Pilot Base
Flight Attendant, Turned Pilot
Feb 01, 2021 Season 1 Episode 2
Suzie McKee

Former British Airways Flight Attendant, Suzie McKee talks to us about how she made the transition from cabin to cockpit. Suzie has just completed her flying training and is entering a turbulent post-virus aviation industry. Suzie tells us how she got to this point in her career and where she plans to go in the future.

Show Notes Transcript

Former British Airways Flight Attendant, Suzie McKee talks to us about how she made the transition from cabin to cockpit. Suzie has just completed her flying training and is entering a turbulent post-virus aviation industry. Suzie tells us how she got to this point in her career and where she plans to go in the future.

Ben Hall:

Hello, and welcome to the pilot based podcast. I'm Ben and I've been a pilot for over a decade.

Dave Rogers:

And I'm Dave categorically not a pilot.

Ben Hall:

Every Monday we'll be chatting to both pilots and non pilots with amazing aviation stories from all around the world. You can find all episodes of the pilot based podcast for free wherever you get your podcasts. If you like what you're hearing, subscribe to our channel and leave us a review.

Dave Rogers:

In Episode Two We meet Susie McKee, from cabin crew to cockpit Suzy is a newly qualified commercial pilot entering the industry in a post COVID world. Now pilots, you are Boeing or an Airbus kind of person non pilots, pick a side I firmly on the fence bens on one side, Suzie's on the other. And here she has to tell us why. Suzie, Hello, thank you very much for joining us. How are you? Where are you?

Suzie McKee:

Good. Thank you. I'm in Portsmouth south of England at the moment. So a bit of a grey day but England for you.

Dave Rogers:

You want to get yourself up to North London at the sun is cracking the flags here. Just not true. It's absolutely freezing. Ben, how are you?

Ben Hall:

I'm very well. Thanks, Dave. How are you? Your side?

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, really good. Look, really looking forward to this to this conversation? Actually, I'm so down in Portsmouth at the moment. Susie, how much flying? You're doing?

Suzie McKee:

absolutely zero.

Ben Hall:

Just like the rest of the aviation world.

Suzie McKee:

I mean, I graduated school only three weeks ago now. So haven't had quite an opportunity to job properly just yet.

Dave Rogers:

How did you celebrate graduating?

Suzie McKee:

I came back into lockdown, actually. So I had some champagne around the fire of the family. But it's as good as it gets at the moment, isn't it?

Dave Rogers:

I'll be honest with you. That actually sounds amazing. Yeah, I mean, my closest thing to that is having a cup of coffee with the central heating on so you'll definitely live in the highlife down there in Portsmouth. So where shall we shall we start with it? I tell you what, let's start right at the very beginning. So there's so much to talk about today. How much did aviation or being a pilot or just being in the sky in general feature for you as a youngster? Like what are your first memories of falling in love with it? If you're like,

Suzie McKee:

I think I was quite young when I started travelling. My family's half American. So we've always been to and from the States. And I think it got to a point when I was about seven or eight where I used to be way more excited to even get on the plane than to get to the states. So that's probably my earliest memory of aviation. I think my mom said, I've been on a plane since I was nine weeks old. I've had a bit to do with planes, but I don't come from a particularly aviation orientated family. So it was something I discovered on my own really.

Ben Hall:

That is one thing with pilots. There's a lot of aviation families. So the vast majority of the pilots, I know they've at least got an uncle or somebody in aviation to kind of show them the path.

Dave Rogers:

So you you haven't you're not from an aviation family or you know, oh, this is great. I've got to you on one call. So at what point did you think well, I can make a career out of this?

Suzie McKee:

I think it was sort of during my a level time. Even though you do the generic like where do you want to be when you're 25 quiz, and my back as a leisure centre owner. But that's not for me. Yeah, I was very confused, started looking at other options. And then I was torn between midwifery and aviation, which again has nothing to do with each other. And so kept my options very open sort of through school through uni. And it was after uni where I was like, I can pursue this now.

Dave Rogers:

To be fair Leisure Centre owner like is that an independent? I was just thought it was the council. Yeah, well, he

Suzie McKee:

Nika staff is like

Dave Rogers:

a it's a it's a long career. Anything's possible. So you you went you went to uni then what did you study?

Suzie McKee:

Spanish and Italian again? Nothing. Steve aviation

Dave Rogers:

credibly handy though. That

Ben Hall:

will come in very useful.

Dave Rogers:

When you when you do your addresses to us a slight in cattle class in the back. Do you ever do them in Spanish in Italian?

Suzie McKee:

I actually did do one on a I hadn't got to Madrid there and back on a triple seven when I was working as cabin crew. And I asked me to do the PA and I was terrified. Looking at me, she say

Dave Rogers:

she's did cuz I'm one of the I'm one of the worst fliers and I'm sure I get hauled over the coals for this but when the addresses are happening from cabin crew When the safety announcements at the beginning, I've usually got my my headphones snuck in and my hood up so I can't get hold off and I don't pay a lot of attention. I'm so sorry. But do you still? Well, you don't obviously now because you're a pilot, but the cabin crew still use the telephone.

Suzie McKee:

Oh, yeah.

Ben Hall:

Pilots do as well. Dave.

Dave Rogers:

Stop it.

Ben Hall:

Yeah. So I had an incident once so you can do it over the headset. But you've got it right. You can have a bit of finger trouble because you've got to like, hold certain buttons down. And once I gave a whole cabin announcement to Baghdad control

Suzie McKee:

last month worst Yeah.

Dave Rogers:

How long until they brought it in and said, Well, he

Ben Hall:

kept it on VHF because it's like a one way directional thing. I finished this like three minute thing. And it was like my fifth flight or something. So I'd written it all down. I was reading it verbatim. And then I like release the thing. And Baghdad controller just like, thanks for that switch tower.

Dave Rogers:

Just spend the rest of the flight sweating with embarrassment. Yeah, exactly. So

Ben Hall:

the safest thing to do in the cockpit is we have a little phone as well. So just pick that up, pay on a phone.

Dave Rogers:

Amazing. I love that that literally the height of technology that can transport hundreds of people safely from one country to the next 10 miles in the sky. And you've got a hard wired landline. Amazing stuff. Right? So anyway, I want to sort of rush through this bit so we can get into the nitty gritty. through university you finish you get your languages degree incredible. Was cabin crew, your your first job out of uni that?

Suzie McKee:

Yeah, well, actually, I found myself working in mot garriage for six months, which I've had a rocky part

Ben Hall:

about the Italian and Spanish was useful for that as well.

Suzie McKee:

I mean, there's lots of Spanish in, in the Portsmouth area. No, it was a it was a good gap between finishing like academically and then like starting my job as cap increase bonus, it was just stay at home for a bit, recuperate from the exam stress at university, get myself together and then move up to London.

Dave Rogers:

Was it always cabin crew that you wanted to do? Or did you think straightaway, I want to be a pilot, I can be a pilot, it was

Suzie McKee:

my step into pilot school. For me. I like I said, where I don't have the sort of aviation influence within my family, I needed to force my way in. So I use my time as cabin crew as like my stepping stone to get me in a position where I had something to sort of present in an interview with potential sponsors and pilot school. Is that a traditionally trodden path, then, I think it's actually quite a done thing. Now a lot of crew I know socially, girls, especially become pilots or going into pilot school over the last year. And I do think it's like an easy way to get in if you if you don't have that exposure to begin with. And also you sort of fall in love with it. A lot of cabin crew will start and they think I'm having a lovely time. But there's something that other side of that door. And that's where that that sort of the interest grows from.

Dave Rogers:

I've asked this question earlier than I thought I was going to, but I think you're both gonna have different answers to this. I'll start with you, Susie. Should all pilots as part of their basic training have to do a period as cabin crew?

Unknown:

Yes. Then

Ben Hall:

I wouldn't do the cabin. I'm six

Dave Rogers:

foot five. Your silence. Your silence is deafening on this bed.

Suzie McKee:

Well, I know he.

Ben Hall:

Actually Dave No, I do. So I will say yes. Okay, and the reason for that is just to get a better appreciation of what's going on and back because as pilots, you're applying all sorts of stuff like that, but also you manage the cabin. And a lot of people have absolutely no idea realistically what's going on, Kevin. I mean, you send the first officer back to make a coffee. And he's back in the cabin for about half an hour dodging buttons, wasting everything in the galley until all cabin crew comes over and cleans everything up. Get someone to call.

Dave Rogers:

No, I just so I know that some some companies when they put when they hire graduates, they make them do every job pretty much in the in the company before they give them the whatever management role they're qualifying for. I just think to give you a to give you a rounded view of what actually goes on on the flight. I think doing a little period in cabin crew would do you good.

Ben Hall:

I agree.

Suzie McKee:

I think that's great. Yeah,

Dave Rogers:

I thought you know, you know what, Ben? I don't know whether it's the pressure of having a former member of cabin crew who's now a pilot on the court. I, I thought you were gonna say no, I thought you were gonna flat out refuse.

Ben Hall:

I think I'd be a terrible asset and be not enjoy it. But I think it probably would be beneficial.

Dave Rogers:

If you always enjoy it, Susie,

Suzie McKee:

it was definitely a job of highs and lows.

Dave Rogers:

Good bits, then. Well,

Suzie McKee:

it's sold as a very glamorous job. If you look online, you go back in, like all through history. And it was a very sort of high end elegant role. But no one tells you that you're going to be sat in the jump seat for it. And with a cup of tea, hating every second. Yeah, I mean, the best things were literally I could go for breakfast in one country lunch, another in dinner and another in a couple of days, which was it that side of it is glamorous. But it is the early mornings, the clearing up the mess of the cabin, and people poking you shouting. You can't get paid enough for that.

Dave Rogers:

No. And the latest, the latest one is, I was on a short haul flight to Italy a couple of months ago. And one there was one member of cabin crew with a piece of paper and a pen. Because you can't queue for the for the loo now so they were making a list of people's names and seat numbers and forming the queue for the toilet and then going and letting people know when it was their turn to go.

Ben Hall:

That's that's probably not in the job description

Suzie McKee:

right now.

Dave Rogers:

No, not at all. So you became cabin crew with a wish or a dream or a vision that you were going to be doing that for a finite amount of time. And then you were going to become a pilot.

Suzie McKee:

I gave myself a year originally. Okay. And then I sort of didn't quite realise how long the process takes to get the right flight school to get the right programme for you. So I use another year so that two years in the end, but every minute was perfect exposure to help me get to where I wanted to be so

Dave Rogers:

so how long were you cabin crew before you actually embarked on the pilot training? Or? actually did were you doing any flying by you were still cabin crew.

Suzie McKee:

I've never flown before I went to flight school. risky. Okay.

Ben Hall:

I just went through.

Suzie McKee:

Yeah, I mean, a lot of people, especially when we started getting into the smaller aircrafts or single engine training, we were warned about the potential of not enjoying it. Because if you haven't had the chance to experience flight in a small aircraft, you just might hate it. That's why I've come this far now. I can't hate it surely.

Dave Rogers:

And I know that you and I have talked about this band, you almost the money becomes a byproduct. You know, it's gonna cost a lot of money to train to be a pilot and it's it's a dream job for so many people. But just to get that far, I'd imagine you've put a fair amount of money down already. Imagine you've paid all that money. It's been your dream for however long, then the first time you take it off, you're like, Nah, not for me, lads. don't fancy it

Suzie McKee:

happens. I've heard it.

Ben Hall:

Yeah, I know. Some people have started with Flying Training. They got air sick. They didn't really like the sort of pressures involved in it. And they just gave up after sort of five hours of flying.

Dave Rogers:

Did you love it straightaway? Susie?

Suzie McKee:

Yeah, definitely. It was something I hadn't ever felt before. And especially when you start to fly on your own. Like the powers. Is there equal?

Dave Rogers:

power at the point? Yeah, yeah, it is. It is power, isn't it? Yeah.

Ben Hall:

It's a real like sense of freedom at first solo flight you do? You kind of take off and you look beside you and nobody's sitting there and you're just like, Okay.

Dave Rogers:

How did you choose your training school?

Suzie McKee:

So I sort of had it in my head that I was in a quite a contra position in my cabin crew role. And I knew that I was a hard worker, I could probably at least try to get on some sort of a sponsor programme. And, and and sponsor programmes aren't that easy to come by. But once you've done one of the interviews, one of the assessment days, you get a grasp of what the next one is going to be like. So I knew that I'd had a like, at least a small chance of getting one so I think My flight school through the sponsor programme ends up getting on which was the fly B.

Dave Rogers:

And what does a sponsor programme mean?

Suzie McKee:

In the olden days, sorry, for your time that you'd get actual financial sponsorship. So some courses were fully sponsored, some might be part sponsored. My sponsorship just meant that once I'd finish the training required, I should get the job with the airline that sponsored me.

Dave Rogers:

And that didn't go according to plan.

Suzie McKee:

Yeah, rest in peace to fly v. Know, I mean, I'm still very lucky because that sponsor programme, although it didn't end up how I wanted it to it got me to be at the school, which I really enjoyed on a course which is hopefully going to get me on to the jets in the near future. So all the journey.

Ben Hall:

Potential with flybys, you know, it's possibly getting resurrected. Is there any potential of getting back picked up by them? Or is that complete right off now, do you know,

Suzie McKee:

we've had the chat with the head of training and someone in terms I think they were like, I actually can't remember who it was someone in fly B or the old fly B that had sort of a pic of pilots at the time. And where they said they had like a list of our names. So it's potential that we could get picked up by them. But where we find ourselves now there was six of us that this affected, we were on an MPL originally. And so the MPL meant that we were obviously tied to fly B to finish or to get the atpl after 1500 hours. And once fly B went under the school support us transferring to an atpl. So we've got, I don't know, like six to 10 courses who were already pilots that fly B, who's still on the MPL because they haven't achieved their 1500 hours. So obviously, in my head, at least, they're going to get the call up before someone like us

Ben Hall:

just described to Dave because Dave has zero knowledge of what an MPL is, versus atpl.

Suzie McKee:

Yeah. So the MPL, in the nutshell, is very much like airline orientated. So an airline chooses you to go onto an MPL and you have to finish that NPR licence of the airline. So my NPL in my flight school was not very many flying hours in terms of single engine planes, a couple on the twin engine planes, but most of your hours are done in 737 simulator, so they're gearing you up to get straight on the line straight away flying those those planes for the airline. And your MPL becomes an atpl after 1500 hours of an airline, whereas now I have a frozen atpl which means I can take my licence to any airline I want to go to I can fly with them and once I get my 1500 hours as I would have MPL my atpl becomes unfrozen if that makes any sense till

Dave Rogers:

the one chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter so how many hours

Suzie McKee:

Am I on now?

Dave Rogers:

Yeah.

Suzie McKee:

Like, I've got enough my first meet up, I don't remember. I think I've got 150 actual flying hours. And my seminar has taken over. I think

Ben Hall:

it's 200 and today, we're going into civil aviation licencing requirements. Now that is a wormhole.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, yeah. And, you know, it's we are very much making ourselves a niche podcast if we go if we go into that, how to talk to me about simulators that and because in previous episodes, we've sort of brushed on them and the fact that simulators themselves have instructors, how close are they to the real thing? Obviously, the Jeopardy is is a great deal. Oh, but do you get a good feel for flying from the simulator experience?

Suzie McKee:

I mean, in terms of the jet, so I can't really comment I've never flown but it does feel very real in all the scenarios you're you're faced with although you wouldn't expect have a decompression pilot incapacitation, you know, one engine out landing, once we started sort of getting those done, it does feel like your stress levels are rising when you know you're getting certain emergencies like you probably would experience in a in a real plane. But if we go back to like the smaller Sims, they don't even move, you just sit in a seat, it gets dry, you know.

Dave Rogers:

All of those things sound absolutely terrifying by the way.

Suzie McKee:

It gets trained, God knows all about

Ben Hall:

that the smallest things when you like doing your initial training, they're designed for more sort of quite basic procedural aspects. So literally like following line towards a radio beacon and stuff like that. Whereas once you get in the simulator that is a realistic, it's like a really immersive computer game. And because actually, when you're dealing with a lot of emergencies, you don't you don't look outside that much. Now the graphics and the simulators are very, very good. But you're not staring out the window, a lot of the stuff you're doing is internal to the cockpit. And that cockpit is a carbon copy of what you'd have in real life.

Dave Rogers:

Okay, so very important then, but well, quite simply because you're not gonna, you're not going to send a, I don't know, 777 after costs, however many hundreds of millions of dollars and say, oh, by the way, we're going to turn this engine off now to give this to give this young pilot the experience of landing it That does sound like a very expensive way of doing things. Good. So what about what about the transition between cabin crew and and pilot that I know, you've, you've still got a little way to go before you get that that dream job that I hope is just around the corner for you? Do you think you're going to come up against any obstacles? Kind of people's attitudes towards you?

Suzie McKee:

Yeah, I do think it's, it could be a bit of a stigma. And I have experienced it throughout previous interviews as well. And you sort of turn up and they like have been cabin crew has been so beneficial to me, I literally loved it. It was a fantastic job. And it was perfect to be my stepping stone. But sometimes it's hard for people to see past the fact that you are having crew and saying that I received the same training that everyone else has, like we're all on a completely equal playing field now. So it's up to me how I portray myself in future interviews, I suppose. And if I can do that, then I should be able to do anything.

Dave Rogers:

I'm trying to think of comparable things, obviously the this such there's so few industries that are comparable with aviation, but I remember being a teenager and working on a building site and then I don't know like the buildings inspector would would turn up and they'd always have a suit on with their hives over their suits and a brand new car. And all the lads on the site would be like, Oh, look at him. He's never done a hard day's work in his life. But I was just wondering, what's the relationship like, between cabin crew and pilots? Essentially, what to cabin crew think of pilots, that's what I want to know Ben blockier is?

Suzie McKee:

No, I was always a bit of like, I was called a flight deck floozy. It was only because I needed it as a learning curve. So I would always be wanting to sort of like volunteer to do the walk around. So before flight, the pilot light walks around. So I'd go and do that with the first officer and the captain. I try and get into the flight deck for as many like takeoffs and landings as I could. So I always tried to have a good relationship with the pilots because it was something that I needed to have. But there definitely is like a cabin crew pilots stigma. I think, especially if you're going towards some of the more archaic airlines and archaic pilots, there's sometimes a bit of Lost in Translation chat that goes on, we have crew buses, so we take the crew bus from the terminal to the plane or from the airport to where we're saying when we're in a different city. And you can definitely tell that the pilots will sit at the very front, you know, headphones on on the iPads and the crew organising drinks at 6pm.

Dave Rogers:

And do you think with with regards to flight deck floozy and obviously you were incredibly keen to learn, do you think those intentions may have been misinterpreted

Suzie McKee:

amongst the crew everything I did in the flight deck was like only ever professional, I've literally learned so much from even spending 10 minutes taking a cup of tea in the middle of the night, for example. So it was it was definitely a tool that I use to help me get where I am now.

Dave Rogers:

And Ben, what two pilots think of cabin crew. I think you know what pilots is probably

Ben Hall:

it really depends on the mindset of the of the pilots. The whole feeling for the flight starts within the first like 10 seconds. When the captain kind of says hello to the crew. You can really get the sense of right this is gonna be a good flight or a bad flight. And if that report is not there straight away, hardly anyone will come visit you. You can have like a 12 hour flight and Because Kevin crew in most airlines have to check up on the pilots every half an hour just to make sure there's no medical issues and they're awake and you know, everything's fine. But they can do that by physically coming into the cockpit or by giving you a call on a landline, if there's a bad start to the flight, that's all you get. It's a everything right? Yeah, cheers. But are you really so it's a nightmare when you when you've got a captain, who gives it like a really bad first impression. You're just like this, it kind of taints you with the same brush. Because nobody wants to come visit. And everyone kind of thinks that they speak to you, then they're going to have to speak to the captain, so I'm going to risk it.

Dave Rogers:

But is that something Ben that as you develop to become a captain? Is that something that you're going to be very aware of?

Ben Hall:

And I think, honestly, it's got a lot lot better. It tends to be just the real tail end of the the old cohort, where it's kind of the captain is the boss and nobody can say anything against them. I mean, 99% of pilots now are very good in my opinion. Yeah, but the cabin crew thinks funny because I spoke to a cabin crew member who's been flying for like 35 years never visited the cockpit in a while actually just was not interested. She's more than happy to sit down the back having a chat. And I just could not fathom that but each their own right.

Dave Rogers:

Well, I think that just shows the different reasons that people get into the job, isn't it? Yeah. But you You must have met some incredible characters as a as a member of cabin crew.

Suzie McKee:

I think crew themselves they say it takes a certain type of person to be cabin crew. And that you do meet some of them best people are some of the worst people. So it is very much it's a mess. You get a couple that will refuse to conform. You get a couple that want to talk all night get a couple that fall asleep all the way. It is definitely a character character game and cabin crew.

Dave Rogers:

You need a work ethic. They don't yeah.

Suzie McKee:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. You need the work ethic and the body clock for it. There is a two major things.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, just just the amount of time you spend on your feet.

Suzie McKee:

I think my I think my absolute most I ever did was I think I did 20 420 404,000 sorry. Yeah, in one flight. I think it was a Bangkok or something where you're constantly giving out a bit.

Dave Rogers:

I think that's about 12. k,

Suzie McKee:

up and down constantly, but startling.

Dave Rogers:

That's astonishing.

Unknown:

Yeah.

Dave Rogers:

Well, so Well, that's the thing. I mean, now you're a pilot. You just gonna be sat on your ass the whole time.

Suzie McKee:

I can't wait.

Dave Rogers:

Ah, Susie?

Suzie McKee:

Yes.

Dave Rogers:

What's the dream?

Suzie McKee:

A 787. Long Haul from London. Okay. Yeah, I think people say you're either an Airbus or Boeing person. And there's a lot of rivalry between the two. I mean, we've got our very own Airbus man there as well. But I feel I'm going to be a Boeing go.

Dave Rogers:

Why Boeing?

Suzie McKee:

Well, this is where the Airbus people try and stay out, sell the fact that they get a drop down table. That realistically, it's not all about furniture. I just think I really like the feeling of the Boeing and I've been mostly on Boeing that only Airbus is I've already done that the smaller ones as in flown as crew. And I want to fly the big jets. And I think the 787 has a very nice feel to it.

Dave Rogers:

Ben, why Airbus?

Ben Hall:

It's the future, Dave. The future it looks off to you and it's nice and comfortable. And we do have a table for dinner. We're not heathens, we don't eat dinner on our laps. Right? The difference is that they're both essentially the same. Boeing has got like a control yoke, right. So it's got like a steering wheel. And it's considered a bit more of a pilot's plane because you can, it's like a bit more conventional so you can feel the flying whereas an Airbus has a little sense. joystick and call it a side stick. It's got no mechanical connections whatsoever. It's just a computer signal sent backwards. And it's got some like artificial feedback. So you can kind of feel a bit of pressure. But it's all it's a lot more about just knowing what you're doing rather than feeling the flight.

Suzie McKee:

So Ben's over there playing Mario Kart.

Dave Rogers:

I love this Boeing VFS banter is gonna be perhaps my favourite feature of this podcast series.

Unknown:

Feeling as well.

Dave Rogers:

So think things aren't as you as anyone wants them to be in the aviation industry in the moment, whether it's pilots, whether it's cabin crew, whether it's people like me, who are just frequent travellers who are desperate to, to get back to work in other countries, how patient Are you willing to be Susy with regards to getting in the cockpit and, and actually becoming the pilot that you want to be?

Suzie McKee:

Well, personally, I am impatient, very impatient. I mean, I've worked what I feel has been for years to get to this point now. And I'm where I did originally have that job offer. When I started my training, it's all been a bit of an anticlimax, finishing and not sure where to go from here. So I'm giving myself a year to two years. And Pilot School is an absolute slog, the best 20 months, but it is so difficult, so difficult. So really having this time for us by now is actually quite important, I think. And yeah, we'll start the job hunt, probably towards the end of 2021.

Ben Hall:

Do you plan on doing any sort of, like aircraft flying or anything to keep your hand in? Or do you just gonna put on pause for the time being,

Suzie McKee:

I mean, I'm down in South Coast, I'm quite close to certain airports, there's a couple of small flight schools pop over to Bournemouth way, like there's definitely options around and I got a single engine rating as well. And when I was doing my, my programme of flight school, so I do have the ability to go and fly the smaller planes if I want to, I definitely will try and do at least an hour a month. I think that so expensive. Like I think that'd be all I can really do for now. And I've considered getting a flight instructor certification as well. So a couple of options,

Dave Rogers:

staying busy, just going back to having that suppose guaranteed job, and then it being taken away? What kind of psychological impact did that have?

Suzie McKee:

You think, more than anything, it was just a very stressful situation, I held out longer than I hoped to get that first like flying school role. Because it was first once a programme with with a sort of guarantee of that job at the end. So it was extremely disheartening. But realistically, I've now come out with a licence that's a lot more applicable for, for the sort of industry now. And I've come out with a commercial pilot's licence instrument rating and a single and multi engine rating, none of which I would have come out if I'd done the other licence. So I'm definitely better placed than I would have been. But I don't have the job.

Dave Rogers:

Plenty of time for that. It's really interesting hearing you talk about things like that, because it's just not something I'd consider the fact that you are both qualified pilots is, is just so far beyond anything that my, my tiny little brain could could even comprehend. But then when you break it down, you make it sound so functional. It's like, right, I've got this licence and this rating and got these stamps on my card and stuff like that. There are there are so many of these boxes that need to be ticked, so many of these tests that that need to be passed. I mean, it is an incredibly cool job. But there are a lot of well boxes that you need to take it as it is quite functional in terms of its format, isn't it?

Suzie McKee:

Yeah, definitely. I think, obviously, aviation, the first role is safety. So having to go through all of these tests, although it's stressful, and it was super testing, it's all for the main reason. So you're happy to do so.

Ben Hall:

And it's just constantly I mean, with most jobs, you kind of do the training at the beginning, and then you like do the role that you've been trained for. Whereas obviously, you do that in piloting. But I mean, the absolute minimum you have to do as an airline pilot is a test every six months. And that's two days of four hour blocks in the sim with engines blowing up and decompressions and gas masks on and all sorts of stuff. And that's about the Easiest, you're going to get to concentrating

Dave Rogers:

with regards to your path to Z. And if you could rewind, however, a number of years to when you finished university, would you take the same path to becoming a qualified pilot now,

Suzie McKee:

I think if I'd have had a bigger interest in aviation before that if I'd seen it as an actual feasible career path, but rather than the leisure centre manager, I probably would have tried to have gotten into, say, the Air Squadron at university. I definitely attended air shows before. I've been around airfields. And I've been to a lot of flight school open days. But if I'd have done all that, let's say the two years earlier, without my cabin crew stint, I wouldn't have the knowledge that I do from being the other side of the door. But I would probably potentially be sort of a couple of 100 hours down now in a job. So timing hasn't been my friend. But I do think that the path I did take was the best for me at the time.

Dave Rogers:

And would you would you recommend cabin crew as a job for anybody?

Suzie McKee:

Yeah, definitely. I recommend it all the time. There's so many people that are sort of stuck in retail, you know, stuck in the in the day job that isn't quite giving them what they want. And the main role of cabin crew, apart from safety, is having the confidence to be in front of people, you have to have that outgoing nature. And you have to be able to deal with a lot of issues you don't want to deal with. But you do that and retail, things like that anyway. And if you want to do all that, alongside travelling the world for free, and I don't understand why people don't go for it more often.

Dave Rogers:

Is it competitive? though? I can't imagine it's that easy to just get a cabin crew job.

Suzie McKee:

I think there's a couple of like, difficulties. To get into the role, you have to be a certain height for starters. And same for pilot, you have to be between two height ranges. And there's a different set for boys and girls as well, which is always a bit odd. Yeah, so a lot of people I've heard, who want to be cabin crew failed the first hurdle because they've lied about their height. Yeah, they test your reach, which is basically so if you were to be holding on to one of the handles of the doors, and you had to pull the manual inflation handle of a slide, you have to be able to reach it. So that's tested

Dave Rogers:

for different heights for men and women that that that winds me up. To be fair, Ben, you must be right on the cusp, because you're massive. Yeah, I

Ben Hall:

think nobody's has checked to be honest.

Dave Rogers:

But the different heights for men and women. I mean, we were at risk of travelling down a massive wormhole here, but I don't know if either of you have read invisible women. But the fact that when they test airbags with crash test dummies, they do it based on the average weight of a man not a woman. So if you're in a car crash, then a woman is more likely to die than a man.

Suzie McKee:

That's really good news. Thank you. Well,

Dave Rogers:

you know, it's a it's a Tuesday morning. I just thought I'd send you into the week with a smile on your face. But yeah, it is. I'm sure there is I'm sure there are decisions made by people far above my paygrade that have that have decided the reasons behind that. But it does seem a strange one. So but you You are right, you were tall enough or short enough. I vaguely remember years ago reading that. There. There was a brief but ill fated air Wales that flew out of Cardiff Wales airport. And don't ask me to tell you what planes they were but they were very small and quite rickety old boats. And the cabin crew had to be smaller than normal cabin crew because otherwise they'd just been dragging their heads against the ceiling the entire time. So they just think they just went searching the hills and the valleys for the for the shortest women they could find and offered them. I wonder where whales even flew to? I've never heard about it. Well, it was it was early 2000s it was an I'd only heard of it because I was a big rugby supporter and they sponsored the sprays.

Ben Hall:

Cardiff to Holyhead lovely

Dave Rogers:

cards are the big one over the water over the water tier right you've got offers dike Do you and Ben to you, when you're giving the sort of Route plan out the route plan what am I the a website when you when you're when you're telling the the passengers where we're going to go and it's like our so we'll be we'll be coming over the channel and then we'll be going over Swindon and following the M four corridor up, do you give those kinds of instructions?

Ben Hall:

Do I give them?

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, well, so I quite like it. I quite like it when the pilot does that when they essentially tell you that really depends how

Ben Hall:

much time you've got at the beginning of the flight, and how lazy you're being. So we've got a couple of like a few elements that we have to include in a PA, which are mainly safety based. And then everything else is kind of at your discretion. So if you're, if you're in a bit of a rush, and you know things going a little bit wrong, then probably just scrap

Dave Rogers:

it. But why don't you tell us the cruising speed and the altitude because we think people are interested in it. Okay, so it is quite, I mean, I generally am but that is, it's literally because of past. Yeah, there's

Ben Hall:

a lot of people that really are interested. I mean, we have sort of, yeah, plane spotters, and just enthusiasts come into the cockpit after the flight and a lot of them nerds. I've had people come in, and they've got little logbooks of every flight they've ever taken. And they want to know the roots. They want to know the cruising speed. They want to know the altitude, they want to know. Your tail number everything.

Dave Rogers:

I love it. I absolutely love it. You probably don't

Suzie McKee:

let them wear your hat.

Ben Hall:

Well, it makes me feel a bit bad because they're more interested in it than I am.

Dave Rogers:

That's a great question. Actually. Susie, I don't know if you heard that, then would you ever let them wear your hat?

Ben Hall:

Yeah, so I've let a lot of kids wear my hat.

Dave Rogers:

What's the cutoff like 14? How we

Ben Hall:

probably push it to sort of 15. But above that, it just starts getting a bit weird.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah. Yeah. Have you got your hat Susie?

Suzie McKee:

I don't have a hat. I used to have my cabin crew hat. I sat on it. Yeah, I use the hat box as well. And I used to use that to like, transport either easter eggs or bananas. In a cheesecake factory cheesecake books.

Dave Rogers:

Susie, I suppose the final question is, have you got any advice? For people who are who are thinking about becoming a pilot, I think it's incredible that both you and Ben have mentioned that you're not from aviation families. So this is something that you've done off your own bat, you find your own route in. And I really, really hope that in the not too distant future, everything comes to fruition, and you get the job that you want and the job that you deserve. But have you got any advice for those people who Well, I suppose want to be a pilot, but have those doubts, it just seems like something that's so far away from?

Suzie McKee:

Yeah, it definitely at the moment, especially is like very much a distance or for a lot of people. Um, but I would just say the most exposure you can get, like the better. So make sure you do go to those open days at all the schools that you want to consider make sure you're going to sort of flight demonstrations. When maybe even take a sort of a practice flight with an instructor, you can get them really cheap experience days wise. So yeah, just try and be as exposed to aviation, as you can maybe even get a job in aviation, even if it's washing a plane. And having all of these tiny parts of like showing interest come across really well in an interview. And then Apart from that, it would just be make sure that your choice is financially protected, especially at the moment, it's not the best time perhaps or argued by some anyway to enter into some sort of flight training. So having your back covered is really important at the moment, but I hope it's gonna be a good career. I mean, Ben's definitely having a lovely time. So it'll be positive in the end. I'm sure.

Dave Rogers:

Ben, when was the last time you washed a plane? I didn't hear you might but I think your silence is 2009 it was 2000 not good goodness me over a decade ago. See? That's it once you once you put the legwork in sushi, it's easy Street, just sit there and get served. And all you've got to do is take off and land.

Suzie McKee:

I mean, isn't it?

Dave Rogers:

Well, good luck. Good luck, Suzy. And thank you so much for your time. This has been a lovely, lovely conversation. And will you make me a promise, please? Hmm. When you do get the pilot's job, and when it does start to turn out really well for you. You'll come back on the podcast and tell us about it.

Suzie McKee:

I loved it. I've had a lovely time.

Dave Rogers:

Thank you very much Susie. Look after yourself.

Ben Hall:

Thanks for listening to the pilot based podcast. We'll be back next week with another great guest from the aviation industry. Don't forget to check out our new career platform at pilot base.com and all the socials at pilot base HQ. If you enjoyed this podcast, don't forget to subscribe and review