The Pilot Base

A 10 year struggle to the flight deck

March 08, 2021 Pilotbase.com feat. Ben Hall & Dave Rogers Season 1 Episode 8
The Pilot Base
A 10 year struggle to the flight deck
Show Notes Transcript

Mike is a pilot flying for Scottish Airline, Loganair. His journey to land his dream job has been a long and frustrating one. We hear his story of changing careers from the oil and gas industry to aviation, and the 10 year struggle he had to realise his dream to get in the cockpit full time. Mike's passion for aviation is clear and he gives us some honest insights into the challenges faced by people trying to make their way as a pilot.

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 categorically not

Ben Hall:

a pilot. 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 this episode, we meet Mike Burgess now Mike was a late comer to aviation. He had a great job, a career working offshore, a forces background, a family, a pretty good normal life. But he decided that he wanted to be a pilot. unlike so many. His journey was a long and sometimes unrequited labour of love. Fast forward and now he works for loganair and the pride and the wall with which he talks about being a pilot is amazing. Future pilots potential aviators, listen to this and follow the dream. Everyone else sit back and enjoy. This is Mike Burgess. Mike Burgess, welcome to pilot base. I say welcome to pilot basis very much an ethereal non entity at the moment. Because Ben's in his house. I'm in my house and you're in your house. So where in the world are you?

Mike Burgess:

In Keith, which is in buncher. So if you can envisage Aberdeen and Inverness on the map, and pretty much halfway between the two of them off the main trunk road,

Dave Rogers:

a beautiful part of the world. Actually, I spent some time there. Although I am surprised that you get enough signal to join us on a zoom call. It was pretty desperate.

Mike Burgess:

And I don't say toilets now. I've just started getting eating them and as well.

Dave Rogers:

Are you well? How's life treating you at the moment?

Mike Burgess:

Yeah, not too bad at all. Thanks. But don't aim at the minute not really doing much work. But generally, yeah, helps. Good. I'm well fed as I am most days but

Dave Rogers:

what about you, Ben? You're looking a bit slim. Are you eating? Well,

Ben Hall:

I'm eating Very well, thank you, I think is the medication I'm on just the operation. So using that to slim down, or I think it's actually the complete opposite was happening.

Dave Rogers:

I was gonna say if I if I sat on my backside because my knee operation I would use that as an excuse to eat the chocolate oranges. try my best not to. Um, so you two know each other from from a little while ago. Yes. How did you guys meet.

Mike Burgess:

So for myself. Eventually, I took the plunge to do the pilot training. The school I selected to use has come in Bristol aviation. And just so happened to ban a do use the same company. And it was for me it was day one day two down in South Africa, a place called port Alfred on the Eastern Cape. And that's where we were condemned to do a train and Ben had already been there a few weeks. And it was in there the loans of Dublin block in the 43rd air school are offered that we met and April 2009. So three years ago,

Dave Rogers:

if those walls could talk a feels like a

Ben Hall:

distant memory now.

Dave Rogers:

So one of the reasons why I'm really keen to get to know you today, Mike is because your your journey has been well what word would you use? unorthodox?

Mike Burgess:

Yeah. Long arduous. frustrating at times that essentially in the end, right, well, the most exciting you know, it's the latter part of it's been very exciting. But obviously the first part that was Yeah, frustrating I think would be the the best word to use.

Ben Hall:

I think from my point of view, knowing Dave Willis to know Michael, this time, there's been a lot of persistence to get to the point you're you're currently at.

Dave Rogers:

I am finding the more pilots we speak to the more persistence is perhaps the most important trait that you will need to get into this game. And so let's go back to life before piloting then because pirating absolutely wasn't your first career was it? What did you What did you do to begin with to make

Mike Burgess:

and so for me, from from quite young age, I'd always kind of enjoyed tinkering or baking things and then random by the age of 14, maybe we had all the careers and the military careers guys come into the school. And I was sold on the on the RF, the Air Force. So essentially, the earliest you could apply was 15 years, nine months. From that very day. I was in their careers office in Aberdeen got the paperwork and had it signed, parents have to sign in to give them the go ahead to apply. And that was me and did all their interviewing test in medical and from two months after my 16th ourselves down doing basic training. So that was airframe engineering. So essentially did the basic training. And from there you were then pushed it to wherever it may be. For me, it was a famous dambuster squad, which was quite a quite a journey that was only there for 19 months before I went back to do further training. But I was working on tornado fast jet aircraft. So the sense of the mechanical maintenance repair service and of those aircraft, and, and again, did some more training ended up back our Air Force mouth again, just quick local to where I was from. And yeah, seven years at the dance floor. And as funny as it sounds, people sitting waiting your fly when you're in there in the RF. So there was always that being on the line flight lane, you see an aircraft or if you see a tick, or if you see him coming in line, there's always that pie in the sky thing of No, you're not going to be a pilot one day, but there's never really a serious consideration. And then I came over and RDF, and I got a flying lesson just as like a flight experience for Christmas one year. And the instructor at the time said, you know, you you've taped to this quite well, have you ever considered doing it. And kind of from there, it was like it was a bit more of a seed had been planted. But from that point, I didn't go straight to the flight train. And I went offshore worked in on gas industry, which is quite a popular thing to do in this neck of the woods as well. And I did that for a few years, met my wife who took me to Northern Ireland. And when I was over in Northern Ireland, I was project monitoring over there in a company for Caterpillar who do power generation, I got in touch with a friend I used to work in RDF with who was down in Dublin. And he'd actually been going through the, I suppose the aptitude side of it. And companies are always trying to sell you places in training and they would look at you, you know, to elevate along to these aptitude tests. And so are you, you're great, you'd be really good at this, by the way do you want to place it's going to cost you X amount. So I kind of went down that route place in Dublin. And it actually turned out cut a long story short, in the end, the place in Dublin where I went to the very first part was a sister company of Bristol aviation, I ended up with in the end. So from leaving school at 16, and join the Air Force. It was, what 10 years later, nine years later before it obviously took off. First step of getting into the aircraft and doing that very first lesson down in South Africa.

Dave Rogers:

So with that, with that first lesson, when the when the instructor said to you, you've taken to this quite naturally, have you ever given it a go? I mean, I know hindsight is a wonderful thing. But did any part of you think ah, I wish I'd I wish I pursued this more when I had those aircraft almost at my disposal in the RF

Mike Burgess:

100%.

Ben Hall:

Mr. Robbins

Mike Burgess:

said, an annoying thing is as well, in the forces in the military, you've got these basically learning credits that the military or that they're paying you to go out and do courses. And one of the things I did what's going to help me in my purse, you know, when I pursued the offshore industry was I did a data release course, in mechatronics and Hnc. And I was paid for about 180 percent of that and it was paid for by the RAF More importantly, I got a day off work every week. You know, and, and looking at that, even after I came out there for us, I think I had up to 10 years to use these credits of which could have been used towards flight training. And I never knew until it was too late. You know, there could have been six grand of pilot training there over the space of two years, which, again, looking at hindsight, you know, could have been done, but it would have been a journey that's been turned. And I don't know if the satisfaction would have been the same if it happened. And it

Ben Hall:

sounds like from what you've said, it wasn't like an immediate point where it's like, right want to be a pilot, it was kind of a gradual build up, right, working in the RFP a little bit and then having a taste of flight and

Mike Burgess:

yeah, yeah. Your plans, like the amount of people we've met through Korea, even through the flight train, and it's like, oh, when I was three, I've told my dad I wanted to be a pilot and the bug it's always been there. And it certainly wasn't like out with me. You know, it's an equally I've met people who've been similar to myself who've come to aviation a little bit later through, maybe not essentially being interested in at the start and something's gonna put them on. And but yeah, that, like you say it was being in the Air Force. It was never a real consideration that I could That would be at Baylor. And I suppose part of that was down to the stigma attached to it being, you know, it's a rich boys club that, you know, it's something that without the money without the investment, there's wasn't really that many Connect ships either where you could essentially get paid for you. And again, now, like I said, growing up, it's one of those things where you think, the paid loads of money, and when you get paid loads of money, it's because you, you know, you're super smart or something. And don't get me wrong. I'm not, you know, the, I wouldn't say I'm the blonde, just the pencil case, but you know, there needs to be that element of education as well, you know,

Dave Rogers:

and also, that level of self belief, you, you mentioned it there, like, like the rich boys club, it does seem, particularly in the UK to be that echelon of people who are like, Well, yeah, I can absolutely be a pilot, or I can absolutely be a Formula One driver, or I don't know, professional golfer, or any of these things that just seem like normal people can't achieve them. And I think it just takes some people a little bit longer to realise they can and it took you until your mid 20s. Whereas it might take somebody else until their 30s, or somebody else, as you say, might just mention it to their parents in passing at six years of age, I can be a pilot, but you you arrived at that journey in your own title or the destination in your own time. And and when you got there, there was no doubt that it was the right thing.

Mike Burgess:

100% from from taking that first step. And like you say, in hindsight, I wish I'd done it earlier because the satisfaction of say, going to work works maybe the right word, but it's not a job. You know, there's not a single day gone to play with my big shiny toy. And that I feel it's a job. It's nice to be paid for doing it, of course. And but yeah, yeah, it's just that realisation that again, it's some people's dreams and some people get their dreams a little bit earlier on in life. Mankin just that little bit later on, you know,

Dave Rogers:

do you think because of the the work you've done in the past in the forces, and then that offshore work, which, you know, it's it's it's well remunerated, but it is difficult, you do spend a lot of time away from friends and loved ones, do you think having those previous jobs has given you a greater appreciation of what you get to do now?

Mike Burgess:

Definitely the offshore side of it. I started in the North Sea. So it's been two weeks, three weeks, I came home for two weeks, three weeks, two animals. And then a couple of years after doing that, I ended up in a job in there in the Middle East. And the money was good. And, you know, it was it was, it gave us a kind of nice lifestyle, you know, we don't really need to go without anything. But it was anywhere up to four or five and a half weeks away at a time. And the same you're getting out when you get home. But what you find is when you're away that long. And you know, you're earning the money here, you're not really spending money when you're away, so you can come back and you can enjoy that that lifestyle. But when you're coming back, I haven't been away for four or five weeks, it's been taking a week or two to kind of get into the routine of waking kids, you know, the certain things especially, you know, we had our youngest child when I was working offshore. So I was fortunate that I was home for the first few weeks, but even just that first two weeks away and coming back, women you missed, and then certain changes in routine, they're they're affecting my wife would go into place and having to kind of go on to that. It's not just a case of getting five weeks of home, you know that five weeks home? There's a lot of that time that takes you to adopt, as well. So getting home every night, no, very occasionally you've got the organised stays. But you know that essentially, it's a job when I'm home every night. And you know, you definitely appreciate that. You know that side of things

Dave Rogers:

with regards to having kids? And how difficult was it? Well, did it ever come into your consideration that having that time off work and having to retrain and all the money that it takes to retrain whilst you've got the family to feed did that ever sort of leave any doubts as to whether you were doing the right thing when you were training to be a pilot?

Mike Burgess:

Yeah. So this started the training, the way that the programme market was supposed to be. It was around a six month stint in South Africa. And the way that they saw you know, the way that the training can be sold out to you said that probably wouldn't be a chance to get home at that time. So where are we are we already other our eldest at the time she was probably five I think. So. It was a really difficult conversation. You know, I was given up work saw the car wife was going to be at home with a child and her own she was a nurse. So it's not like she had a and I fly in high income job either. So that that decision was taken. And it was only because of the support of my wife that that the decision was made to go extreme short, any kind of hesitation that she didn't think it was a good idea or that she didn't. And I wouldn't say core because well, Ben knows that she's a pretty strong lady. And she doesn't make it to wouldn't need me to be there if she didn't think that. You know, but yeah, definitely it was it was definitely a consideration. But I'll tell you a lot of the people that we met in South Africa I can't even think of any offhand of the any of any of those podcasts. A lot of them are young, single men, guys, girls, wherever. And there was a massive adventure for them. And while it was also a massive adventure, for me, there was always that worry about, you know, is everything already at home, and we had regular contact, it was difficult, especially down there, stocks, the internet was awful. So trying to keep in touch on on a daily basis trying to do the Skype call and or, and, you know, it was quite hard going. But yeah, there was definitely that consideration there. Doing the right thing or, and again, it was looking at the longer picture. You know, it was essentially six, nine months to set up for, you know, what was ahead of us from now.

Ben Hall:

It's quite funny, actually. Because in South Africa, the expats, so there's a few British and Irish guys that are going down through this course. And they tended to be I mean, it was only probably five years older, on average than the South Africans. But that age gap made such a difference. So vast majority of the South African locals have come straight out of high school, so they were 1819 years old. Whereas we were when I was early 20s. Mike was how we might 27 at the time.

Mike Burgess:

I'm 26. Yeah. Yeah.

Ben Hall:

So I mean, we weren't old by any means. But just that little age gap meant we had very different mindsets about how we got on down there.

Mike Burgess:

Yeah.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, absolutely. And so you got through flight school. And surely then it's all plain sailing, you get a job, you become a pilot. The rest is history. Yep, that's exactly how it worked.

Mike Burgess:

For some, for some of us. For some, for some,

Dave Rogers:

I half knew the answer to that question. And so expectation versus reality, then you passed with literally flying colours. What then?

Mike Burgess:

Yeah. Expectation versus reality, chalk and cheese. You know, the way I suppose the industry was, I think it was on its own by then as well. So it wasn't like there wasn't really recruitment going on. And I was I've been in a position where I've been searching for jobs before but I've never been in a position where I've not had a job and been searching you know, so when I transitioned from the Air Force, the offshore offshore was booming. I applied for jobs I got I left a job went into job this was very different you know, I was and I think the pressure was on you know, the the desperation was there. But I was just I was just engulfed in spending, you know, hours and hours trawling the internet trolling different sites, and sending emails sending see these and, and you get to that point of frustration, where you don't even get an acknowledgment. If you get an acknowledgement you don't get Thanks, but no thanks. And then the first year, I suppose the first year was my bar. The year when I got the job. Nine years later, the first year was probably more successful, because I got an interview with Cathay Pacific and in London, which would have been based in Hong Kong. So again, that was going to be our epic offer, there was going to be a very difficult conversation, which obviously we'd already had, but without the reality of maybe something happening. And I also got assessments and interview stage with them. There was like a pre interview and then an assessment stage with Lufthansa and but it was the Lufthansa Italia and say the things and I don't know what they're looking for. And astronauts I think that their their assessment and again, they're looking for the cream of the crop so you can obviously pass these tests but for me, that was very much a case of you know, they want a 1% or 2% of the crop and for me that wasn't you know, wasn't the case. It fly in They kind of opted to to fly in. I worked hard to, to, to master it to pass and, you know, first series process, some people get in a plane and it's absolutely natural to them, they, you know, everything is done exactly as it should be when it should be. But that wasn't the case for me. So something somewhere like Lufthansa, although it was nice to get the, you know, the, the assessment, there was an element of realisation that, yeah, it was, it was a good experience, but the expectation of getting something was probably not there. And then it all goes quiet, you know, so your, your Phantom CV to try and keep, you know, you're looking at all these websites, and one of them was one called paper in, and it's just full of so much negativity that you can have to take yourself away from it. But again, it's also quite a good port of knowledge for picking up on if jobs have come up that you haven't seen or things like that. One of the good things that did come as well was company in Belfast, and best at the old Grove and the Belfast international doing many flights, many of our flights, and the aircraft that they use. So without going into too much detail you've got you've got aircraft that are authorised for single pilot operations. However, because it was many medevac flights to give the patients and you know, people in the back a little bit of kind of reassurance and confidence, they would use qualified pilots, but not necessarily legally rated to fly those aircraft. And it's all legal and aboveboard, and they call them pilots assistants. So I had like a multi engine piston rating. And it was a multi engine piston aircraft that I was a pilot's assistant in. And so I was there. And if the proverbial I'd had the fun, I would have been capable enough of landing the aircraft. And with about gains, however, you know, on paper, it wasn't illegal. That's not the right word. But it wasn't. I couldn't afford that aircraft on my own bike, there's insistence on I got that work with them. It was and it was done paired it was on our call basis. Sometimes I get a call seven, eight at night saying can you come in at five in the morning, we've got flights Oxford. And so it was really good. Now the downside of eyes, under their certain rules of car at the time was I couldn't log any of those flights. So what we was doing was well above board, but I couldn't put it down on paper and as actual experience. So although I can include on the CV, how about experience as a pilot's assistant. In the logbook, you can actually put those hours don't so it was good experience. good fun. And but you know, it didn't really lead to anything. And I don't think that it played a part in really, because it was so long ago, I don't think it played any part in me getting the job loganair In the end, but again, I put it down to experience good fun. You know,

Ben Hall:

just a day's benefit with this. So you come out of flying school, right? You've got your shiny new licence. But everything's got validity dates. So certain things run out in six months, certain things around 12 months, some things run out after five years. So you've really got to be with the job hunt, especially you come out, you start searching for jobs. And at the beginning, it's fine, because your licence is nice and fresh. But then after a few months, you start thinking, right, I'm going to be in a bit of trouble here. Because if I don't get a job in the next X amount of time, then I'm gonna have to stop paying myself to keep everything current. And Mike, I think you ended up eventually doing that for 10 years, didn't you?

Mike Burgess:

Yeah, well, nine years, qualified June, June 2010, was my official qualification day, I got my licence issued Three weeks later than in July. And then I started logging out on the first of July 2019. So it was essentially a month shorter nine years, from getting the licence in my hand to then start in a job where I was being paid to be a pilot.

Dave Rogers:

Wow. I mean, it would be remiss of us here, Ben. Whilst we're talking about websites, not to mention pilot base.com, but we'll just we'll very good plug Dave, I thought you weren't very good at the business stuff. We'll just leave that in the ether. And if people who are listening decide to go on to whatever browser they use, and type in pilot based.com then I think that'd be that'd be a great thing to do. Nine years is a long time and we'll talk about what's happened since you've got the loganair job shortly. But in that nine years, what did you do to sort of keep the lights on? And did you ever think gosh, you know what, the piloting it's something that I dreamed of, but I'm just gonna have to put it in a box and and think about a different career.

Mike Burgess:

Yeah. So just to start with a lot of point not not happens several times, and, you know, you look at the, the, there's a yearly cost against keeping legal, legal and current has completely different legal as you got paper, that paper that says you can, you can essentially fly an aircraft current is flying as much as you can to keep a hand eye coordination. So, naturally For me it was a case of under the rules of like cost sharing, for example, My plan was to, and I did, I joined the local flying club in new Norge. And, you know, you get a couple of months of well get a flight a month to keep up with so a flying club got legal, you know, the rules along with that insurance as well. So you need to fly a certain attain a certain amount of times per month or purse extra days to keep their insurance and if you don't you're then typify with an instructor, and if you do is more expensive. So you're always trying to stop days to make sure that you get an insider's tour each year, as Ben was saying, you've got to then go back and do a proficiency check. And the way that works with your multi engine. So you've got like to essentially get global airlines need a multi engine instrument rain. And then some rain has to be read on every year to the first year, you can do it in the simulator, the second year has to be done the aircraft and then you can alternate from there. So it does make a little bit cheaper that first year because it's far cheaper to fly in a simulator than it is the actual aircraft. So the first year I went back to Bristol. And towards the end of the second year, and again, it was getting to the point where you're starting to lose about fears and about hope. And there's a friend of mine who we've met through Bristol aviation, he was using a company in Spain. And it was like, well, and then people said, Well, why do you go to Spain? Why not do in the UK. So it's all the same licence, it's all the same regular, whoever, whether it's bit more guaranteed to essentially go in there. And cheaper. And you know, between the cost of fuel the, the aircraft there. And, and yeah, and it's also a waste not listen, it's also a chance to get away with a watch for the weekend to somewhere, somewhere like Madrid or Bristol. But even when they even when they travel, you know, it was cheaper going to Madrid than it was somewhere like Bristol or so the first two years, it was everything was done, you know, I'm on this I'm going to do. And at the end of the second year, I think was probably the first Teddy's over call, you know, it's not uncommon for me, I'm giving up you know, and I'm willing to do a good job marking off Sure. And then give money take thing you know, so I let you know why bother type thing like you see, you get to that point where you know, it's not, it's not. It's not It's not that. And then at some point, you get that bug again. And the the part of the licence that let lunch was purely just for the better, I need a tech to get commercial flying job, I could still fly the Cessna, you know the single engine for pleasure, because it's the validity of that specific rating is two years instead of one year. So the idea was to still continue to not I thought I'd then come to keep it going as just an expensive hobby, rather not a long term kind of career thing. So that was the kind of main set out there. And then again, something happened, you know, I had a friend and Eastern airways who said Grable, Eastern areas is recruiting they're an Aberdeen. Give them a show. So I did, I gave you some areas to show. Yeah, we'll get you in for an interview. Can you come this time? And I'm saying Well, I'm offshore, but I'm flexible that states and it goes from that to well, we were almost squeezing into a slot that been cancelled as a favour to this guy that I knew. And it's just like, really, you know, it isn't really that hard to get in an industry that's on the pickup

Ben Hall:

by No You mean I I've been to loads of airline interviews in my life and some of them you just get a better feeling than others that you would fit in with the company ethos and the you know, just the just the way everything feels you can have the exact same interview but you just feel more comfortable and more at home in one than the other.

Mike Burgess:

I definitely not be aware of Yeah, I'll definitely be aware of describing them. They're just just general atmosphere you know, you got you got easily pleased we've got some images. That's where I was. I was told if we get sandwiches over sold, you know, but again, Logan out has got a lot of ex RAF guys as well in the engineering side. And, and actually over 30 minutes we were chatting, probably 1015 minutes of my 30 minute say interview char was talking about my time in the RAF and being offshore and the HR director was, I think he said that they talked to Don de the base of Dundee for organelles, they talked about being rfmd. Because 90% of the, the the engineers for loganair were all extra off guys. So they know what they're getting, you know, generally, military in general, are guys who understand and respect authority, but they've also got that confidence to speak up where things maybe aren't correct, they've got the discipline to turn into work every day on time, their plan, and their preparation is always I say always, generally, most of time. They know and again, so. And I think, though and don't my rough experience, although it wasn't flying. And just the fact I'd been in the army have played a big part, you know, there was definitely not definitely give a positive spin. And to the recruiters and getting, you know, and taking them out daily,

Dave Rogers:

the way you've spoken about loganair. It sounds like you've got a great affection for them. With all the the sort of places you've visited in the near misses you've had in the mistakes you've made. Does it feel like loganair is a great fit, and probably even the best fit for you as a pilot as a professional. Yeah.

Mike Burgess:

without going into too much detail recently, there's been certain things that maybe could have done better. But that's that's just circumstance of what's going on and what we end the day, when these times and nobody could have planned. There's no manual on how to deal with it. So that that's kind of things that can be forgiven, depending on how things go forward. 100% from the day I joined the company. And first of July last year, we were in Glasgow, there are certain things that we did before we started our actual tape course. And we were in the office. So I think we're getting remember it well, we were still getting a high vis vest for Knox. And to do fire and smoke training and Aberdeen and the the MD Jonathan henckels walked through the office, what passes and stopped and turned around and it must be the new intake of Embraer guys, any any Stickney supporters, and he introduced himself, you asked who we were, what experience we had. And he says, and as it happens, he says, then there's a meeting room next door, I'm just going on with them, their crew manager to speak about our kind of forward plans, he says, You're more than welcome to come in second, and listen to what the company is planning the future. And for me to come from a big multi national service company and gas industry where my own country manager didn't even know my name. you'd walk past me in the office and didn't acknowledge me to have like the MD of the company to spend that time and not only introduce himself, but ask about OHS invite us into a meeting. It was just a way off. And from that day, it felt like everything was just the way it should have been. The Nine years, the Cathay Pacific they are Lingus that Ryanair was always like that happen, because this was common. And that's all prepared. It sounds so cliche saying that ever happens for a reason. But for me that really was there. perfect plan, you know, we were hosting Keith, that we didn't need to move from. There was no brainer the family and it was really their dream job was common. It was starting on a jet as well, which is the dream of Well, I think most pilots would say it's like a guest star on any kind of jet. It's, it's the United States dream of a first job. So yeah, it's very much an affection I've got with a company. It's Scotland's airline. And I love wearing a tie and tie every day. And there's, there's there's some of the ones and some of the English ones especially reluctantly were they tight and tight because they have to do some of that perhaps they love it as much as they think it's part of their recognition of walking through and we don't go into big airports. it's it's it's not such a big thing but going through like sobre de and you've got you've got Ryanair, you've got Lufthansa, you've got EasyJet you've got British Airways, but you instantly recognise the loganair brand. You've got the tire and tie but the tire and tail on the aircraft. And it does it it kind of it makes me a bit fuzzy knowing that I'm you know, flying for them and hopefully will be for you know, for years to come. Yeah, but yeah, it was definitely an infection there. Yeah,

Dave Rogers:

I love it and just hearing you talk about all of the other things that kind of led to this point. with anything that you do, whether it's weather, whether it's being a pilot, or, or anything, you just want to be able to seize that one opportunity, you just want to be in a position to take it when it presents itself. And maybe if you hadn't have had all those other experiences and all of those other near misses, then you wouldn't have been able to grab them, grab this for Medicaid. Oh, yeah,

Mike Burgess:

100%, we'll just go back to the lenders thing, one of the guys, I did the assessment with the young guy, he'd been fresh out of training. And he eventually it was quite a few months down the lane. So it was fair planning from making the decision. But he'd got start with another airline, and another regional airline, and Aer Lingus came and says, Hey, you know, we want you while you start with us. So, if I've been in the same position as him, and accepted our Lingus, if I'd gone, he he was three weeks and as take Britain, and then he hasn't flown since February, in a certain way, and he's still employed and 15% salary in a big airline, but he doesn't know if he's getting taken back on or if he's laid off, you know, so. And again, it's one of those things that everything happens for a reason, although the flying has been vastly reduced. for even longer now, we've kept going and throw the whole, you know, seven, eight months of the, you know, the crisis pandemic, whichever overly used word at the minute, if you want to use but yes, we've, we've managed to keep going. And, as I said, a company I've done, I believe, especially in the early parts of it. And I've done very well to kind of keep everybody as much as they could in jobs and current flying as much as he can. You know, so

Dave Rogers:

I'm very aware that we've been speaking for a long time here. So I really appreciate your time, and I won't keep you for too much longer. But because of the affection that you've you've talked about both the company that you work for and flying itself, not necessarily the process, but just try and give me a description of the of the feelings of the emotions you get on a day where you're going to fly. So from arriving at the airport, walking through in your tartan tie sitting on the tarmac in the cockpit and actually taking off and, and the process of flying itself. How do you feel on a work day on a flight day,

Mike Burgess:

it's a mix of excitement and nerves. And I think the nerves at the minute is is primarily because you're not flying so often. So I'm still very, very early in my flying career in terms of not only time in months, but time as in hours flying. And, you know, for me, I had measured even with logon hours on a train and I took two attempts to do what they call best trim. And just I couldn't quite muster the London technique, which apparently is quite important. And then

Dave Rogers:

I just think if for anybody for anybody who flies loganair when you're when you're listening to this if and if a voice comes over the Tannoy system and it's like a your pilot today is Mike Burgess, just strap in ready.

Mike Burgess:

If you've got it, you've got to stick it under yourself to soften the blow. But it just shows you and again, just going off topic and it just shows, you know, the reason I've got that affection for logging out because they never made a point of saying you're under pressure to pass What are you going to do in your ear. In other words, we will work with you I got a bit of extra time in Assam. And you know so. So going through that. And so that's where the nerves come from is that and making sure you know I just want to be I want to get away from that there was a bit of a kind of stigma for myself think that people are gonna think I'm two times maybe because two times in my base train I took a second attempt in my lane check as a minor issue the very end of the at the end of the flight. But again, the second time I did it, everything was on point where it should have been since then the progression and the same checks of a two cent checks or a two lane checks and they've all been signed off as being at least company standard or better. Even the last one being in the very good range for me. And I can see that progression, but the element of nose because of the lack of fly and I still want to make sure that everything is as it should be in perfect. The excitement air you know, every day I'm going to work is really exciting, you know, previous jobs I would have I would have given it my best. But if I started working six I'd have been there at five to six when I was no it's like on a you You have to kind of weigh in the legalities of time, you know, duty time, so you can't arrive too early. But for me, it's, I'm going to be in there, and my paperwork is going to be done so that everything I can focus on getting settled correctly, you know, we can do our briefing before we go to the aircraft. And I've got enough time that I'm not rushing, so everything's done as it should be. But even though the only reports that we had we had reports were to be, um, right on the cusp of our report time of 60 minutes. And so on an earlier report, I believe in the house at half, four in the morning, began up a quarter to four. And the alarm goes off, and welcome in the shower and think, well, I'm going to fly a plane, you know, and it's that statement every day that I go to work. So, you go work, you printed your paperwork, you can have a look. And, and there's always an element of your hope the weather's nice, but sometimes that you get that hope of hope there's a little bit of kind of choppiness today, because it's going to, you know, it kind of almost puts in the

Dave Rogers:

ads a bit spicier, I guess the challenge remains that you've got the skills

Mike Burgess:

Yeah, because loganair really do encourage a lot more manual hand flying, you know, that you're actually going to get feel the aircraft and and you know, the the excitement of actually flying an aircraft as opposed to these kind of big fancy jumbo jets where you just press buttons all the way.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, like these, like these a 380s. He's lazy. Guys don't play Yeah.

Ben Hall:

We all know the aircraft can fly better than weekend.

Mike Burgess:

But, yeah, so the thing, I find the money and, and I still, even even as recent as my last flight, when you're sitting on the end of the runway, that's the first time you really get to control the captain, and does all the taoxian. You know, I started the engines, I think, I don't know if that's a common thing for all airlines, but it's their first officer who starts the engines. And then the captain, you do your checks, he talks to the end of the runway. And if it's my flying sector, the words you have control, it just gives you that kind of boost from feeling you know, the hairs in the back of that neck stand on end. And it's when you've got the thrust flavours in your hand and you advance and forward, you can feel it spooling up. And then again, I don't know if Ben feels this because it's so big, it's like a, it's like a slow, slow crawl to start with. In the in the smaller aircraft, we've got two variants, we've got the 135, which is a 37 seater. So it's good but shorter than the one four or five, but it's got the same engines. So when you have only one free fight, especially at the minute with the loads that we are getting, you know, you you're getting less than half aircraft, so you can feel that that power binding and you've got that thrust banger, and like a rocket ship, isn't it when it's hot? It is Yeah, you can, you can be claiming it's six, six and a half 1000 feet per minute. And in the 135, and it's empty. And that's doing it without any kind of struggle, you know, you're maintaining all your parameters that you need to be and you're just not, you know, it's not exciting. It's still exciting for me. And I know, as I said, I'm still very, very early in my flying career, and you fly with the odd Captain who's been fine 1015 years and then well, you know, I can't wait to retire. And I really ought I never get to that point. Because for me, regardless of where you are in your career, you know, you're flying an aircraft you're getting paid to do what most people would only ever dream of doing without being paid for it, you know, so it's it's a, it's just, I still get that kind of, and I get I get excited when I'm talking about as well you know, I don't know, when you're when you're kind of talking to people and this is so cool. And you know, it's same it's the same as being vegan, you know, there's a pilot in the room because he's gonna tell you and I have I have absolutely no qualms about that. You know, I'm so proud of the things you asked about the fact that I'm a payer and and sometimes that can talk about I think, I hope I'm not coming across as bullish in Oregon because it's not I don't see it as being I never looked down on other people's in positions or what they do. But I'm very proud of the fact that you know, I'm a pilot the journey it's taken me to get here.

Ben Hall:

Stop wearing a uniform to different parties. I

Mike Burgess:

stopped wearing them at school, and I'm sure you're wearing the you know, they're often a gentleman turning up in order.

Ben Hall:

Is the hat really necessary? Good news.

Mike Burgess:

But it is sometimes not especially the minute I'm not flying. I've been doing and project going on. And I'm in my uniform, and I don't hate it. You know, I'm in Norway now. Probably more so now because it's cold. Yes, I've got the jacket over the top, but I do. I do draw shorts wearing the blazer, you know, I don't know the full blazer. I wear the kind of shirt and tie and the accolades, but a lot, especially over the corner here. So we have a jacket over the top, but and yeah, it was in the summer months. It was like, No, I'm proud of this. I'm going to school gets with the show. Good man.

Ben Hall:

Do you have time to talk about project? Man briefly?

Mike Burgess:

Yeah, yeah, of course. You know, there's there's no, there's no rush. Yeah.

Ben Hall:

So just just for Dave's benefit project, would

Dave Rogers:

you say just for Dave's benefit, I'd like to hope that there are some people listening to this podcast who also don't have a Scooby what project wingman is?

Ben Hall:

project wingman is an excellent initiative set up at the beginning of Corona virus pandemic, by some airline pilots. Right. Is that right? Mike?

Mike Burgess:

I don't know if you if you've ever seen the EasyJet programme. I can't remember what it was called. But basically covered the I think it covered the kind of transition of some of the cadet pilots through their base chain and interline training and beyond. And there was a particular Captain Captain Mr. Henderson, and who was one of the main characters, but obviously, you know, there are COVID and what she was doing as a job. And between her and another Captain from VA, when the pandemic cat in the scene, there's all these cabin crew pilots who got furloughed, even laid off certainly, as you know, back in the early stages, and who, and the way that she puts it, it's a specific skill of dealing with the public, you know, the empathy, the professionalism. And what they be initially set out to do was just set up a couple of lounges, and a couple of the most busiest London hospitals because she was based in Gatwick and I assume other companies based in Heathrow. And it started off as we wanted to sell a couple of these lounges where they would serve all the NHS staff on our breaks, tea and coffee, a few snacks that they would hope to be donated. And, and yet, it essentially just give the staff somewhere to go and kind of, you know, just relax and wind down a little bit between their breaks and even just to talk about something other than the hardest I've ever seen and not in the hospitals with these guys. And you know, with all these patients and people coming in who has been over dying, and so on. And from their word got around. So there was parts of the the trust today with MSA and well we've got hospital here. Would you like to come here? Where do they come here? Of course, other trusts find out Would you like to come here? and Emma is actually lives in comox, which is where the flying club is. And her husband is? I think he's ex Air Force but back working as a civilian in the in the base

Ben Hall:

that don't tell us too much about

Mike Burgess:

Oh, okay, so Emma will tell you all about herself on other episodes. She has done so they also project itself and where I get involved is it best to explore to threaten the UK. So there's from start, no, there's been over 80 of closures have opened, some of them have no shot because things come down and certain hospitals needed either spare spark or didn't feel it was a necessity anymore. And so originally, and because of where I live, I'm pretty much slap bang in the middle of Aberdeen and Vanessa and I put on the website that I was interested in, I'd be happy to travel to Aberdeen on an occasion to volunteer in there. And so unexpectedly when when Dr. Grace came up, which is an elegant it's only 20 minutes along the road. Obviously I you know, I got straight and they you know, I was furloughed from basically the 23rd of March I think I flew my last flight up until and then they started mad a few flights in May but not very many. So even though I was back, doing a lot of our flying I still felt there was plenty of time to go and volunteer a few days a week. And Elgon and it was that the reception of it was just it was amazing. You know that the staff would come in and say you know, we don't feel we deserve this. And especially in Oregon, where it was a designate what they were saying I think they use the term designated clean. So if they got somebody that was already positive comments Elgon, they would basically push the motel but in Inverness, because we're trying to maintain Elgon as a as a kind of more local hospital for emergencies to maintain that service. So some of the stuff in there was really quiet, we don't deserve this, you know, we're coming in here. And it was great because they, they would come in, and they would ask about your work and what you did, and they were interested in finding out more about you. And for me personally, and I got myself in a bit of a rut, you know, I was I had no purpose, I had nothing against foreign Warren. And that seems quite extreme, because, you know, Becky, and the kids, it was hard homeschooling. And it was really quite a change for me, because I would go home and even shower, you know, setting the school phone, get the kids sorted with schoolwork, and then it almost be left up to the to our eldest daughters and attain the youngest one. And I will be sitting glued to the TV, obsessed with numbers. And I'll get a death rate today. And you know, watching their updates in the news and on the phone, and I'm quite bad my phone anyway. But I'm just just constantly glued to my phone. And my wife's a nurse. So because of the kind of line of work she was in, she was getting into occupational health work and all that was removed. So she continued with some of the agencies that she was on. And she was working night shift. So at night, I'll be sitting watching TV, on the phone, looking at all the numbers and facts and figures and all the conspiracy theories and, and, of course, a god bed. Wherever attained midnight, half, one, whatever time I can either walk off from doors and on the sofa, I decided that I don't enough of walking in order. And then kind of wake up when the wave came in, in the morning. And we'd see each other for maybe an hour associate, obviously, and spend time with kids and go to bed. And just be like, I'm just going home every day. So So when project wingman got going, you know, I flew myself until I was in two or three days a week for shifts. And it was an element of being selfish here. Because obviously, Vicky was working, she was working a lot on night shift. And she was driving long hours. And then I was essentially, our eldest said, Well, she just turned 16. So we knew that we could kind of leave them in the house themselves, what Vicki would be upset if sleeping, but we knew that there was an element of they could kind of entertain themselves. But again, it's been a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of her eldest daughter, which, you know, she did to be fair, she took like a champ, you know, she was really good. And helped each other out and so on. So, yeah, so in one respect, I really did feel the benefit of it. And as it went on, I can reduce the days a little bit. And I tried to kind of coincide and saw that I wasn't taking time away from the kids. So yeah, it's been a massive thing. And I've continued on, and we've reduced days a little bit because of as the hospital gets back to a little bit of normality there, there's less people coming in, because they're busier, doing the kind of normal day job and thing and donations from companies that I wouldn't say they've dried up, because we've still got enough to get to keep us going. And but again, as our people get back to work as on, some of volunteers are back to work, some of them have lost jobs, gain jobs in other sectors, you know, so they can't volunteer anymore. But, and but it's still going and independent. Obviously, I'm sure Emma's going to cover this as well. But just to kind of get out there as well, what what wingman is doing name is the self wingman wheels foundation. And what are is basically they're the initiative to find a double decker bus, it's being made out inside. And then I'm a big canopy that opens up on the side with fencing that goes around and what we're going to do is we're going to drive the length and breadth of the UK and the planners at the minute they've got a year. And they're aiming to raise enough money to keep them going for at least a full year, which includes the initial purchase and for this bus. And what they'll do is each area, they're going to call upon their volunteers from our area to see if they can cover a kind of two or three day period and do what I call these pop up lunges. You know so so from starting off as our and a thought process of and again, I am going to more detail but I have a few loans in London, it's gone from that to over five and a half 1000 volunteers that they've got available on their database scattered soon. All of you And including direct mail. And you know, there's a loans being sent out there this week as we speak. And Estonia has been set up, you know, so it's, it's very much a response to COVID, but in the hope that it will be a long term thing. And to, to, you know, to, to kind of show the appreciation to the NHS what they do all year, and not just not just through COVID. And obviously, it's been in response to COVID. But they're, I think they're very much the long term plan as to how it will be an ongoing thing.

Dave Rogers:

People helping people, it's a beautiful thing.

Mike Burgess:

Yeah, yeah, that's exactly what it is. Yeah.

Dave Rogers:

It's, you know, I feel as though if we were if we were going to continue this conversation, I wonder if this kind of side of you where you've realised that you've got help from it, but also had a great amount from helping people. I wonder why that's one of the reasons why you want to be an airline pilot, because that is that the sort of helping people get to where they need to be and all of that, but that is a deep psychological dive. So I'm going to put a pin in that right now.

Mike Burgess:

Yeah. Oh, yeah. It's definitely Yeah, it is a definite kind of connecting people with other people. I think the main aspect of it has, and I think the biggest loss if the the way that things go, you know, if it was to end prematurely, and I think the who would feel the biggest losses as recommend weights, because I don't have that uniform to wear anymore.

Dave Rogers:

Oh, my goodness me. Right. I think that is a great place to end this episode of the pilot based podcast. Mike, thank you so much for that. It's been great to well not just find out about your story, but sort of get exactly how much you love being a pilot and how much it means to you. It's it's great to hear and I really hope that comes across to the listeners when they listen to it because it's a hell of a story, mate. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Mike Burgess:

Now, thanks very much. It's been it's been a pleasure. I enjoy talking about it. And then when I talk about it, so hopefully, that's come across as well. Good, man. Thank you. pleasure

Ben Hall:

as always. Thanks for listening to the pilot eyes 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 a.com and all the socials at pilot base HQ. If you enjoyed this podcast Don't forget to subscribe and rice review