Hi, I'm Thomas Challies

Hey there! I'm a commercial pilot, taking to the skies over the US, and soon, I'll be charting my path across Europe too. Flying isn't just a job for me; it's a passion and a responsibility. The vast blue above has taught me the true meaning of safety, efficiency, and the never-ending journey of learning.

My experiences as a pilot - Resume

I've flown all over the world, and I'm always looking for new adventures. If you're interested in learning more about my work, please feel free to browse my CV and experience pages.

From Zero to Airline Pilot - Blog

I'm here to share with you my captivating journey that led me to fulfill my dream of becoming an airline pilot in both the United States and Europe. Discover the highs and lows, the moments of passion and determination, and the challenges overcome to reach my dream.

Sharing my adventures with you as @tomtompilot

Aka tomtompilot on social media. I have an insatiable passion for aviation, and I love sharing it with you. Join me for an online journey into the fascinating world of aviation!

Thomas Challies

Hello, I'm Thomas Challies, born in 2000 and rise in Montpellier, France. Flying isn't just a job for me; it's a passion and a responsibility. The vast blue above has taught me the true meaning of safety, efficiency, and the never-ending journey of learning.

EASA - Europe Flying Qualifications

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) In progress
Instrument Rating (IR) In progress
Multi-Engine Rating (ME) In progress
Upset Recovery Training (UPRT) In progress
Private Pilot Licence SEA - LAND
Medical Class 1

FAA - United States Flying Qualifications

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)
Instrument Rating (IR)
Multi-Engine Rating (ME)
Foreign Private Pilot Licence SEA - LAND
Medical Class 1

Education

EASA CPL, MEIR, UPRT | 2023 In progress

Flight School, Sweden

EASA Theoretical Airline Transport Pilot Licence | 2022 - 2023

Cannes Aviation Academy, Cannes, France

FAA CPL, IR, ME | 2021 - 2023

OSM Aviation Academy, Miami, United States
Naples Air Center, Naples, Unites States

Experiences

Chief Marketing Officer | 2022 - Now
Instant’Air - Montpellier FRANCE
Leading a passionate team, I am responsible for driving our global marketing strategy and transforming the face of business travel, showcasing the efficiency, flexibility, and luxury of our fleet, which includes DA42, DA62, and TBM960 aircraft.

Assistant Manager | 2018-2019
Hatters Hostel - Birmingham ENGLAND
I arrived as a backpacker seeking to learn English and integrate into the local culture. Through my role at the hostel, I not only gained essential management skills but also achieved proficiency in English, as I regularly interacted with international guests.

Intership Air France | 2018
Air France - Montpellier FRANCE
I had the opportunity to shadow professionals in a variety of roles, including baggage handling, customer service, and ground operations. This hands-on experience allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of the tasks and challenges involved in each job.

Flight Hours

Total 500
Pilot In Command 500
Single Engine 500
Multi Engine 500
Seaplane 500
Simulator 500

Language

French Native
English Fluent - ICAO Level 6
Spanish Professional

Contact Me

Address

Montpellier, FRANCE

Email

tf.challies@gmail.com

Phone

+33 (0)6.95.51.87.96

Sharing my experiences with you !

I'm excited to share my aviation journey with you. Whether it's the exhilarating highs or the challenging lows, I'm here to offer you a glimpse into the dynamic world of aviation. My aim is to provide insights that can benefit and inspire you on your own journey. Together, we can navigate the endless skies, learn from one another, and always remember that safety is our top priority. Let's embark on this adventure together, where the sky's the limit, and knowledge knows no bounds.

Get in 'Touchdown' with me!

Ready to connect? Great! Just like the Wright brothers made their mark in aviation history, you can make your mark on my inbox. Whether it's a question, a friendly hello, or an aviation anecdote, I'm all ears and wings, ready to chat!

Another blog of a pilot

With one foot in the US and the other in Europe, I've learned a thing or two about becoming a pilot while making more than a few comical mistakes along the way. Get ready for some chuckles and cringe-worthy tales of my blunders as I share the do's and don'ts of pilot life. You see, I've made the mistakes so you don't have to!

How to become an Airline Pilot ?

Ready to turn your dreams of becoming an airline pilot into reality? This latest blog is your ticket to success. Discover the insider tips on selecting the perfect flight school, managing your finances, and conquering setbacks along the way. Let's navigate the skies together.

How to become a Private Pilot ?

With one foot in the US and the other in Europe, I've learned a thing or two about becoming a pilot while making more than a few comical mistakes along the way. Get ready for some chuckles and cringe-worthy tales of my blunders as I share the do's and don'ts of pilot life. You see, I've made the mistakes so you don't have to!

How to get a Seaplane Rating ?

With one foot in the US and the other in Europe, I've learned a thing or two about becoming a pilot while making more than a few comical mistakes along the way. Get ready for some chuckles and cringe-worthy tales of my blunders as I share the do's and don'ts of pilot life. You see, I've made the mistakes so you don't have to!

Tips to get your ATPL done

With one foot in the US and the other in Europe, I've learned a thing or two about becoming a pilot while making more than a few comical mistakes along the way. Get ready for some chuckles and cringe-worthy tales of my blunders as I share the do's and don'ts of pilot life. You see, I've made the mistakes so you don't have to!

How to choose a Flight School ?

Choosing the right flight school is your first crucial step toward an exciting career in aviation. In this guide, we explore the key factors you need to consider, from the school's location to its instructor team and financial transparency. Get ready to make an informed decision and set your flight path to success!

How to become an US and European Pilot ?

With one foot in the US and the other in Europe, I've learned a thing or two about becoming a pilot while making more than a few comical mistakes along the way. Get ready for some chuckles and cringe-worthy tales of my blunders as I share the do's and don'ts of pilot life. You see, I've made the mistakes so you don't have to!

How to become an Airline Pilot ?

Navigating the route to a career as a commercial pilot might appear daunting, but fear not – with the right insights and guidance, you can soar through this adventure with ease. Discover how to become a commercial pilot in this comprehensive guide, packed with valuable tips and firsthand experiences to help you achieve your aviation dreams.

What you should know

Becoming an airline pilot is not as daunting as one might think. In fact, it's an achievable aspiration for anyone with the motivation and even a modest passion for the profession, although an overwhelming passion is not an absolute prerequisite. Contrary to what you might hear at school, being a math or physics whiz with excellent grades in scientific subjects is not a strict requirement. Personally, I pursued studies in economics and social sciences, which did not hinder my path to becoming a pilot in the slightest. Of course, being comfortable with numbers and having basic mental calculation skills can be beneficial, but what your pilot training will predominantly demand is logical thinking.Outside of the essential qualities required to become a pilot, there are various paths to embark on this journey. In this article, we will primarily focus on the European options for becoming an airline pilot, adhering to the EASA regulations. The road to becoming a pilot is long and filled with hurdles, questions, and doubts, as is often the case in any educational journey. Your attitude and discipline will be put to the test, but always remember that these years of study lead you to an exceptional and unique career. What motivated me most during these years was the opportunity to acquire knowledge for a highly specialized profession, rather than just learning generalities.In this article, I will detail the various routes to becoming a pilot while sharing the mistakes I made and offering my perspective on the best approach to achieving your goal. Naturally, my path is not universal, but I hope it can shed light on your own journey.

1. Start by Experiencing the Joy of Flying πŸ˜‰

Despite a deep passion for aviation, not everyone feels comfortable in the air. Just as some people get seasick, there's something known as airsickness. Before you dive into all the formalities, I highly recommend taking a discovery flight at a local flying club or using platforms like Wingly. During this flight, ask the accompanying pilot to perform a few simple maneuvers, like gentle turns, climbs, and descents, and even let you take the controls for a bit. By the end of this flight, you'll either be thrilled and captivated by the sensations of flying or, in some cases, you might feel queasy.Some of my friends experienced airsickness during their initial five flight hours (vomiting, dizziness, hot flashes, spatial disorientation, you name it). This didn't deter them from pursuing their studies. However, if you believe you can't overcome airsickness or simply don't feel comfortable, I would advise reconsidering your pilot aspirations, perhaps giving it another try later. It's absolutely normal to feel a bit scared or experience strange sensations during your first discovery flight, but what truly matters is whether you have that desire to take off again once you've landed.Think about it – your next 50 hours will be spent in a small single-engine airplane, performing various maneuvers. So, ask yourself: Do I really want to take to the skies again?

2. Get your Medical Class 1 😷

You can't become an airline pilot without obtaining an EASA Class 1 medical certificate. It's a non-negotiable requirement, and it's a strict one. Every airline pilot or commercial pilot in Europe – and generally worldwide – must first secure a Class 1 medical certificate. The initial medical examination might be a bit costly, but it's the crucial step to determine your fitness for a career in airline piloting. Head to one of the approved centers recognized by your Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and complete your medical assessment. I strongly advise against taking any further steps before obtaining this certificate. Moreover, flight schools will typically require you to possess a Class 1 medical certificate before you can pursue your licenses.

3. Speak English πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§

The aviation world revolves around English; in fact, it's the official language of the industry. It's virtually impossible to pursue a career as an airline pilot without being fluent in English. At the end of my secondary education, I realized that my English proficiency wasn't up to par, so I decided to spend a year living in England. I found a job there and had the opportunity to immerse myself in the language, returning as a bilingual speaker. Honestly, I believe that the best way to achieve proficiency in English is by living in an English-speaking country for a significant period.

4. Financing 🏦

Becoming a pilot is a costly endeavor, quite expensive, in fact. The average cost for an airline pilot training program hovers around $90,000. It's a substantial sum, a significant financial commitment, and carries immense responsibility. Most individuals, myself included, had to take out loans to finance their training. However, there are ways to navigate this financial challenge.You can explore options like free pilot training programs offered by institutions like ENAC in France (if you successfully pass their entrance exam). Another route is to participate in airline cadet programs where the training costs are covered by the airline. Be aware, though, that this typically involves signing a contract committing to work for the airline for a certain number of years.Other, more long-term solutions include starting your career in the aviation industry as a flight attendant and later having the opportunity to transition to pilot training (though this path is relatively rare). It's crucial to weigh the economic aspect carefully, as once you embark on this journey, the financial investment becomes a significant part of your responsibility. It's a risk worth acknowledging.

The difference between Modular and Integrated flight training

1. Integrated Flight Training

Back to school! Integrated flight training programs offered by ATOs throughout Europe are often the top choice for aspiring pilots. They provide a structured and continuous learning environment, allowing you to complete all your flight licenses and exams in one place. This can be incredibly convenient, sparing you the headache of navigating paperwork, researching schools, certifications, and various regulations across different countries, and providing you with optimal support throughout your studies.During an integrated program, you'll spend a minimum of two years at the school, following a set schedule and learning from your instructors while flying a single type or multiple types of aircraft, depending on your school's fleet. You'll be expected to adhere strictly to the school's Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). An integrated training program can be a great choice if you want a structured path from start to finish without too many distractions. However, it might not be ideal if you plan to work on the side because, in this program, you are committed to the school's schedule, not your own.There are rumors that integrated training might be more favorable for entering airlines, but there's no concrete evidence to support this claim, and I personally don't believe it's the case. Integrated training is practical and often efficient but not without risks. If your school were to go out of business, all the money you've invested would be lost. Don't assume this can't happen – this year alone, five flight schools in Europe have gone bankrupt, leaving students with loans and no means to continue their studies.

Integrated Flight Training

Pros:Structured Program: Integrated training offers a structured and comprehensive path from start to finish, with minimal administrative work for you.
Efficiency: This approach is often faster, allowing you to earn all your licenses and ratings in a relatively short time.
Known Costs: You have a clear idea of the overall cost upfront, which can help with financial planning.
Consistency: Training takes place within a single organization, ensuring a standardized experience.
Cons:Rigid Schedule: You must adhere to a strict schedule and structure, which might not accommodate other work or educational commitments.
Higher Initial Cost: The upfront cost can be significant, and you must commit to it without knowing if you will complete the training successfully.
Limited Diversity: You are exposed to a single school's procedures and practices, which may not provide the breadth of knowledge offered by modular training.
Financial Risk: If the integrated program or school faces financial difficulties or goes out of business, you could face complications in completing your training.
Rigid Commitment: Once you enroll in an integrated program, you are typically bound by a contract or commitment to complete your training with that specific institution. This can limit your flexibility and options, making it challenging to switch to a different school or training path if circumstances change or if you're unsatisfied with the program for any reason.

2. Modular Flight Training

"Better to be alone than in bad company" – this phrase neatly sums up modular flight training. Opting for this type of training means you'll be navigating the vast sea of flight schools and, more importantly, traveling. A modular approach involves obtaining your licenses one by one, without a complete structure for all your qualifications. You can earn each license at a different school or complete them all at one institution at your own pace.The advantage of the modular path is the opportunity to explore various schools, each with their own procedures, instructors, and often different regulations, providing you with a broader practical knowledge base. However, this route demands more commitment and can sometimes take longer. Finding schools, signing contracts, adapting to different aircraft, changing procedures, and getting used to new instructors can be time-consuming and energy-draining. This path may also carry more risk, as you could lose track or encounter subpar schools, leading to financial losses. Here, your true motivation will be tested, and you must persevere through periods without flying. However, a significant advantage of modular training is that you are in control. You decide where and when to obtain your licenses, based on your professional schedule or personal goals.I personally chose this approach, not only because I wanted to obtain licenses in both the United States and Europe but also because I desired a broader experience, to enhance my knowledge, and avoid the sterile environment typical of an integrated program. Despite the challenges I faced along the way, I would make the same choice a thousand times over. I wholeheartedly recommend modular training for its capacity to make you work hard and truly explore the aviation world. You'll learn more, discover more, and be better prepared to face future challenges.

Modular Flight Training

Pros:Flexibility: Modular training allows you to proceed at your own pace. You can adapt your training to fit your schedule or financial resources.
Diverse Experience: You have the opportunity to learn from various flight schools, instructors, and aircraft types. This can provide a broader understanding of aviation and different operating procedures.
Cost Control: You can manage your expenses more effectively by spreading the cost of training over a longer period, as you only pay for one license at a time.
Career Flexibility: You can maintain other commitments like work or education alongside your training.
Increased Practical Knowledge: The diverse experiences you gain can lead to a more comprehensive practical knowledge of flying.
Cons:Time-Consuming: Modular training can take longer, especially if you need to search for and transition between different flight schools.
Higher Administrative Burden: You must navigate multiple contracts, procedures, and regulatory differences at different schools.
Risk of Inconsistency: You may encounter differences in training quality and standards at various schools, which can affect your overall training experience.
Financial Risk: If a flight school goes out of business before you complete your training, you could lose your investment.

How to choose a flight school ?

1. Location

Select a flight school located at a medium-sized airport that is accessible by domestic or international commercial flights. I strongly advise against enrolling at a school situated at a small rural airstrip or airport. The reason is simple: when you need to train in busy traffic conditions, you don't want to feel lost or overwhelmed. Additionally, opt for an airport that offers various types of instrument approaches, such as ILS and RNAV. The more traffic your chosen airport experiences, the more prepared you will be to navigate through congested skies. On the flip side, high-traffic airports might lead to longer wait times before takeoff, resulting in increased costs. However, I've always favored spending a little more to be well-prepared for challenging traffic conditions.

2. Fleet

Above all, don't set your expectations too high and remain realistic. The aircraft you'll be using are school planes, which means they are pushed to their limits every day and not handled with kid gloves. However, that doesn't mean you should settle for subpar conditions. It's essential to find a flight school with a fleet of aircraft in good condition and well-maintained. Most often, the best schools have their in-house maintenance facilities. Also, the larger an aviation school's fleet, the greater the likelihood that you'll have more regular flying opportunities and complete your training on schedule.

3. Instructors

They are the backbone of every flight school. A proficient team of instructors breathes life into the school and creates a conducive learning environment. While some instructors may have more experience than others, this doesn't necessarily make a life-changing difference, as you must meet specific examination criteria that apply uniformly to all. Find a school where the instructors are happy, and I can guarantee you'll want to stay until the end. Conversely, if there is frequent turnover in the instructor team, it's likely a sign that the school is not in the best shape.

4. Research

Arguably the most crucial piece of advice I can offer: do your research. Engage in discussions with former students on social networks, see where they are in their careers now, and ask them about all the downsides of the school rather than just the positives. Seek guidance. Before signing a contract, visit the school, attend open houses, and conduct online research to assess its financial stability. Be cautious; some schools emphasize partnerships with airlines. Don't be swayed by marketing. The only true partnership you have is the level of knowledge you gain upon completing the program. You're not in a cadet program, so don't dream about these supposed partnerships.

5. Financing

Some schools may assist you in securing financing for your studies based on your nationality and the country where the school is located. This can sometimes be a significant advantage.

My tips for becoming an Airline Pilot

1. Choose the right location

Often underestimated, the environment in which you train will shape your ability to work and gain knowledge. If you always fly in a flat region without a single hill, what will happen when you have to navigate between two mountains and calculate your safety altitudes? If your school is in an isolated area with no means of transportation, how will you spend your free time and recharge? And if you're in a region where the weather is consistently bad, are you ready to wait weeks for flying opportunities and postpone your flights?You need to find an environment that suits you and aligns with the pilot profession. There's no need to attend a school located in a remote airport far from civilization, or in a place where the nearest airport is an hour's flight away. Likewise, choosing an island where you'll be circling for your entire training isn't necessary. Show some initiative and head to big cities with busy airports. Embrace the challenges while maintaining a positive personal environment. Don't forget to consider your living situation and financial circumstances too.

2. Who pays ?

It's quite amusing, but you'll soon realize that most flight schools have a knack for turning you into a cash machine. They might push for additional flight hours that aren't necessarily needed, offer paid add-ons, require you to buy software, present you with a bill for aviation headsets that weren't included in the initial quote, or tell you that you must cover the cost of exams yourself. There are plenty of financial aspects that need to be clarified beforehand.Remember, when you push that red button on the aircraft's battery, your bank balance decreases. It's up to you to manage your time, sometimes say no, and occasionally explain to your instructor why you won't do this or that (while remaining realistic, of course). And if you have a strong desire to visit a certain destination, go for it, because the one who foots the bill is you. In summary, don't let anyone take advantage of you, and don't squander your money.

3. Prepare for Setbacks and Doubts

This is a phase that's almost inevitable, whether in airline pilot studies or any other endeavor. However, in our field, a setback often leads to questioning the situation from an economic perspective. But it's entirely normal to experience failure or doubt after a challenging flight, and it's necessary for you to better comprehend this line of work.Never give up, remain determined to see it through, even when the obstacles seem insurmountable. Keep your discipline and your cool, and don't hesitate to seek help when needed.

It's your turn to write your story

The journey to becoming an airline pilot is an adventure filled with choices, challenges, and rewards. As we've explored various aspects of this path, it's clear that success in this field requires a combination of careful decision-making, dedication, and resilience.First and foremost, selecting the right flight school plays a critical role in shaping your pilot career. The school's location, fleet quality, instructor team, and financial transparency are all key factors to consider. A well-rounded environment that aligns with your goals can make a significant difference in your training experience.The financial aspect also cannot be overlooked. Flight training can be costly, and it's vital to be aware of the potential hidden expenses that some schools may present. Managing your finances wisely and making informed choices is crucial to ensure you don't drain your resources unnecessarily.Setbacks and doubts are an integral part of the journey. Don't be disheartened by moments of failure or uncertainty. Instead, view them as opportunities to learn, grow, and become a more resilient pilot. Persistence, discipline, and a willingness to seek help when needed are qualities that will serve you well on this path.In the end, the dream of becoming an airline pilot is achievable with the right guidance, preparation, and mindset. The aviation world is waiting for the next generation of pilots to soar through the skies, and by making informed choices and staying committed to your goal, you'll be well on your way to joining their ranks. So, set your sights on the horizon, keep your dreams alive, and let the journey to becoming an airline pilot take flight.

Disclaimer: Readers are advised to consult with appropriate professionals or experts and conduct their own research and due diligence when making important decisions, especially in areas that may have legal, financial, or other significant implications. The use of any information or recommendations contained in this content is done at the reader's own risk.

How to choose a Flight School ?

Choosing the right flight school is your first crucial step toward an exciting career in aviation. In our guide, we explore the key factors you need to consider, from the school's location to its instructor team and financial transparency. Get ready to make an informed decision and set your flight path to success!

1. Location

Select a flight school located at a medium-sized airport that is accessible by domestic or international commercial flights. I strongly advise against enrolling at a school situated at a small rural airstrip or airport. The reason is simple: when you need to train in busy traffic conditions, you don't want to feel lost or overwhelmed. Additionally, opt for an airport that offers various types of instrument approaches, such as ILS and RNAV. The more traffic your chosen airport experiences, the more prepared you will be to navigate through congested skies. On the flip side, high-traffic airports might lead to longer wait times before takeoff, resulting in increased costs. However, I've always favored spending a little more to be well-prepared for challenging traffic conditions.

2. Fleet

Above all, don't set your expectations too high and remain realistic. The aircraft you'll be using are school planes, which means they are pushed to their limits every day and not handled with kid gloves. However, that doesn't mean you should settle for subpar conditions. It's essential to find a flight school with a fleet of aircraft in good condition and well-maintained. Most often, the best schools have their in-house maintenance facilities. Also, the larger an aviation school's fleet, the greater the likelihood that you'll have more regular flying opportunities and complete your training on schedule.

3. Instructors

They are the backbone of every flight school. A proficient team of instructors breathes life into the school and creates a conducive learning environment. While some instructors may have more experience than others, this doesn't necessarily make a life-changing difference, as you must meet specific examination criteria that apply uniformly to all. Find a school where the instructors are happy, and I can guarantee you'll want to stay until the end. Conversely, if there is frequent turnover in the instructor team, it's likely a sign that the school is not in the best shape.

4. Research

Arguably the most crucial piece of advice I can offer: do your research. Engage in discussions with former students on social networks, see where they are in their careers now, and ask them about all the downsides of the school rather than just the positives. Seek guidance. Before signing a contract, visit the school, attend open houses, and conduct online research to assess its financial stability. Be cautious; some schools emphasize partnerships with airlines. Don't be swayed by marketing. The only true partnership you have is the level of knowledge you gain upon completing the program. You're not in a cadet program, so don't dream about these supposed partnerships.

5. Financing

Some schools may assist you in securing financing for your studies based on your nationality and the country where the school is located. This can sometimes be a significant advantage.