High Flier: Olivia Greathurst, Class of 2017

I left SWPS in 2017 with the dream of becoming a Commercial Pilot; opting not to go to university in favour of pursuing a role as International Cabin Crew for British Airways in order to gain some experience in the aviation industry. After a year travelling the world and serving passengers, in October 2018 I started my commercial flight training. Moving out to New Zealand I successfully completed 6 months of ground teaching, sitting 14 theoretical exams on topics ranging from Engines and Electrics to Aeroplane Performance and Human Factors. I flew back to the UK and began my practical flight training phase in August 2019, learning how to fly small aircraft and building both solo and dual hours.

Unfortunately, my training came to a halt in March 2020 when the pandemic hit. Not one to let things get in my way it wasn’t long before I was back in the skies and in July 2020 I gained my Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), followed by achieving a Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR) in September 2020.

With the aviation industry in a bad way due to COVID-19, my expectations for finding a job were low with absolutely no airlines recruiting Pilots. I was determined not to let myself lose touch with the industry and so upon completing training in October 2020 I found myself a role working as Business Development Manager for an aviation training company. My role allowed me the opportunity to write articles on a range of topics, including one about the gender imbalance in the aviation industry which I later had published by ‘The Female Lead’.

At the beginning of this year, to my surprise, Ryanair opened Pilot recruitment. Having completed my training as a Ryanair Mentored Cadet I was fortunate enough to be one of the first to be contacted to attend a final stage simulator assessment and interview at their Dublin Headquarters. It was a week later that I received the news that I had been successful and was to become a First Officer for Ryanair, flying passengers on the Boeing 737. Despite the pandemic I have remained focussed and determined and I am now undergoing my final training on the jet, with the hope of flying my first passengers this summer.

I recently reached out to my old Head of Sixth Form, Mr Budd, on LinkedIn to thank him for the help and support he gave to me when I initially decided I wanted to pursue a career as a Pilot. Without him and the other wonderful staff at SWPS I wouldn’t be where I am now and I hope to use my voice to inspire other young women to pursue a career in aviation.