THE first ever commercial airline pilots to train at Newcastle have just graduated with flying colours.
Steven Dowey from Newcastle and Stewart Mason from Barnard Castle are the first pilots to gain their commercial pilot license (CPL) at Newcastle International Airport.
Both students trained initially as private pilots and, while building up their flying hours, carried out Airline Transport Pilot theory studies by distance learning.
After passing professional ground exams, they then enrolled with St George Flight Training at Newcastle for the practical element of the course, and gained their commercial licenses following flight tests last month with a Civil Aviation Authority examiner.
Steven Dowey, 25 of Wide Open, North Tyneside, has managed to train as a pilot alongside his job as a senior science technician at a school. He said: “It was ideal as I had no travel or accommodation costs. The training is of a very high quality. I had the same instructor all the way through and, as there were only two pilots training for the CPL, progress was quick. We helped each other out and there was no time wasted waiting around.”
Living so close to the airport Steven had always wanted to be a pilot. He joined the air cadets at 13, winning a coveted navigation and gliding scholarship. Next, he gained his private pilot’s license (PPL) with Northumbria Flying School. As they didn’t offer commercial training, they recommended St George Flight Training.
Steven said: “Depending on how the jobs market is, I will probably do an instructors rating with St George but, eventually, I’d love to fly for an airline.”
Having been a firefighter for 17 years, Stewart Mason, 35, wanted a change of career. He said: “The training has been absolutely first-rate. People vote with their feet and I’ve stayed with them.”
The new course is the latest development for St George Flight Training, which began on Teesside 14 years ago and launched a second base at Newcastle airport last November.
The company provides private and commercial pilot training, as well as one-off “air experience” flights. It has grown from a one-aircraft operation in 1994 to now having seven Piper aircraft and two bases.
Head of training, captain Eric Reed, who used to run Alnwick Electrical Services before setting up the business, said the course is generating lots of enquiries: “There’s lots of interest among younger people and career change people, including some who have been made redundant.”