Sophie’s route to becoming a pilot

Sophie Easatbrook Skyborne Airline Academy Sophie Eastabrook, currently studying with Skyborne Airline Academy

Sophie Eastabrook is a student with Skyborne Airline Academy at Gloucestershire Airport. Here’s how Sophie got started:

My dad is in aviation so I’ve always had aeroplanes in my life. During my first or second year of secondary school I had a moment where I realised that I could make a career out of flying. When I was 14, my parents gave me a trial flight as a Christmas present. From that first lesson I knew for certain that was what I wanted to spend my life doing.

I carried on learning to fly in a Cessna 152 at a local flying school, going solo at 16 and earning my PPL at 18. Achieving my PPL will always be one of my proudest moments.

At school I studied what I enjoyed, so at AS level I took maths, further maths, physics, Latin, and history, and then for A2 focused on the subjects I needed for university: maths, further maths and physics. I read physics with astrophysics at the University of Exeter.

Whilst at university I was a student member of Bristol University Air Squadron. Generally, I’ve always been a keen reader and more recently I’ve developed a love for gardening.

After graduating from university, I would have applied to an ATPL training course straight away but that wasn’t financially possible. I planned to work for a year to save money but Covid hit six months into that plan and I ended up delaying until March 2021. As well as my savings, I’m lucky to have an incredibly supportive family who helped me achieve my dream.

I did plenty of research over the options available and attended several flight school open days. I decided to go down the Integrated route mainly because I preferred to dedicate 18 months to an immersive training environment and complete my training with one provider.

When I arrived at Skyborne’s Open Day it felt instinctively the right place for me. I was impressed by the facilities and had a wonderful tour where all my questions were answered.

The course fees include accommodation at Skyborne’s centre so you’re living with fellow trainees – great for studying in the evening and being around people who understand what training to be a pilot is like.

Skyborne open day

I got my Class 1 Medical before I applied to my course. I thought it was important to get both my medical and funding in place before I applied.

I had to do pilot assessment tests although they were different because of Covid restrictions in place at the time. I filled in an online application form and having met the requirements, I was sent a set of online aptitude tests – a combination of aptitude, maths, and behavioural/personality questionnaires.

I recapped some maths and physics knowledge appropriate to the course and practiced my mental maths skills – something I would definitely advise!

Having met the required standards, I was invited to interview, which was over a video call due to the pandemic. The next day I found out I had been accepted and I couldn’t have been more thrilled!

I’m currently half-way through Module 2 of ground school at Skyborne. I’ve passed the first five theoretical knowledge exams and I am now studying for the next four exams. Then it’s the last four theoretical knowledge exams in Module 3 before beginning the Core Flying (single engine) phase out in Vero Beach, Florida which is very exciting!

I would love to go on to long haul flying and I’m hopeful that when I finish my training there will be opportunities across the industry.

The most important piece of advice I would give is to have a few lessons in a GA aircraft. You don’t need to get a PPL to start an Integrated course but flying in a light aircraft is a totally different experience than an airliner.

After that, there is maths and physics involved in the theoretical subjects, so do try to give yourself a good grounding in those subjects.

Mostly I would say it involves a lot of hard work so be prepared for it, but if you have the passion and determination to become a pilot then it is also extremely enjoyable.

More articles to help you plan a career are here.

Skyborne Airline Academy


Meet Skyborne Airline Academy at Pilot Careers Live London on 6 November 2021. Book a ticket here