Western Morning News

Ex-Flybe pilot gets job as Tesco delivery driver

- CHLOE PARKMAN chloe.parkman@reachplc.com

FORMER Flybe pilot Aaron Leventhal had only been flying for 13 months before the company collapsed, leaving him with no choice but to get back behind the wheel of a Tesco delivery lorry.

After saving up around £100,000 the former pilot undertook 10-years of training.

The 36-year old discovered his love for flying at the age of 13 when he joined air cadets.

Desperate to turn his dreams into a reality, Aaron began working as an HGV driver in order to fund his training.

With the course costing somewhere in the region of £100,000, the former pilot had no choice but to opt for the training to be completed over a period of 10 years, as it was the only way he could afford to pay for it.

Working 14-hour days as a driver and studying on his days off, Aaron had very little time for leisure.

Ten years later and the trainee pilot achieved his licence in 2018, landing himself a job with Flybe.

However, after working for the airline for 13 months, the company collapsed into administra­tion, leaving him jobless.

Aaron said: “It was devastatin­g.” “I had a plan B, it was just to get back up, be resilient and get back out there.”

Fortunatel­y, the former pilot kept his HGV licence valid, meaning he was able to get himself a job driving lorries for Tesco. Aaron adds: “Which is now working to my benefit and to the benefit of the country as well.”

With the lack of flights due to the effects of Covid-19, commercial airline pilot opportunit­ies are limited.

Aaron said: “It’s a triple whammy, I’ve lost my job, I can’t get a job flying and also all of the training centres are closed so I can’t validate my licence.”

The former pilot’s rating licence is due to be renewed on April 30, however with the training centres being closed, his licence is going to expire.

A four-month extension has been put in place for pilots who meet the desired criteria, however in this case, Aaron does not.

Aaron said: “I went above and beyond my means, speaking to local

MPs to try and get an extension. The MPs sent emails off to the CAA, however they came back and said I still didn’t meet the criteria.

“Meaning it’s going to be another hefty cost of around £6,000. I’m one of the unlucky ones.”

The former pilot shared his experience on social media where his story attracted the attention of a mass audience, with around three million views.

However, Aaron remains positive. “I seem to be an inspiratio­n to many people on LinkedIn, the positive messages I’m getting are overwhelmi­ng.”

The former pilot adds: “I don’t want to come across as some kind of hero – the NHS are the heroes, of course.”

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