Wednesday, 08 September 2021

Will Wright (Ry. 2006-09) is a pilot, and currently studying for an MSc part-time. Here he gives an insight into the fascinating world of flying planes for a living and looks back over the highlights of his time in Ryle. 

When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?

I was at Brighton College in the late noughties: 2006-2009. I’m not entirely sure I knew what I wanted to be when I ‘grew-up’, I think you go through so many phases where interests vary that it’s difficult to nail down on one specifically. However, I do know that I didn’t have to try too hard at maths, physics, and D.T. to do well, so that was possibly an early indicator to me that they would feature in the future. The sports field was also an area of joy, despite the fact I wasn’t naturally gifted. I found competing in sports with your friends next to you a very rewarding activity.

Tell us about yourself now you've grown up.

Firstly, I’m not entirely sure I have ‘grown up’ yet. But I do manage to fill my time with several exciting projects. Something I possibly wouldn’t have if I still had my school mentality. I’m far more proactive than I ever was at the college. At present, I’m a pilot, the Chair of the Young Air Pilots (part of the livery company the Honourable Company of Air Pilots), an MSc student (Aviation Human Factors), and I’ve started a newsletter that summarises academic literature in an entertaining way (easyinsights.co.uk). All of that certainly keeps me busy. Outside of that, I play (and watch) as much sport as I can, particularly cricket. It allows me to maintain a certain amount of life balance.

What about your life now would most surprise your Brighton College teachers?

Goodness. What a difficult question. You know, I have no idea. My perspective of what my teachers thought of me is probably completely skewed. I like to think they wouldn’t be too surprised and instead rather encouraged that they’ve positively influenced my direction in life. I’d love to know their answer to that one though!

What are your favourite memories of your time at school?

A couple stand out. Sports. Games on Tuesdays and Thursdays, match day on a Saturday. Rugby and cricket were the primary sports. Though, tennis, football, and squash all made appearances. Competing in whichever team I was a part of, remain great memories now. The other is my housemates. I was in Ryle house, and at the time it was located on the floor above the headmaster’s office in the main building. Chichester girls' house was directly below. We would play pool and table tennis. Wind each other up and support each other too. House competitions also stick out as memorable. Though, I think they do because of the boys in my form that I competed with.

What advice would you give to your school-age self?

Take risks. If I was guilty of anything at that age, it was probably that I was a little too risk-averse. I didn’t always put myself in uncomfortable situations or take on a challenge that was a little too far out of my comfort zone. I think that through taking risks and occasionally failing, we learn a tremendous amount out about ourselves, and the world around us.

What did you do as a career?

Primarily, I am a pilot. It is what I love to do. Looking back at what I enjoyed at school, the career I’ve ended up in all makes sense. Having said that, I have other career interests that add to the mix. I’m currently undertaking an Aviation Human Factors MSc part-time and look forward to exploring where that takes me. As a result of the pandemic, I am on a 75% contract at work, which frees up enough time to allow for this. Though, an entire 18 months without flying was certainly a challenging time. The resilience was tested, but I consider myself incredibly fortunate not to have lost my job altogether.

What does your work involve?

I think this is a great question. On the surface, it may seem self-explanatory. A pilot transports people (or cargo) from one place to another. However, there is a little more to it than that.

It’s about relationships, people. It’s about problem-solving. Managing yourself through complex, dynamic environments. No day is the same. Pilots are more than pressing the autopilot button. 

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Of course, flying isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The ‘glamour’ days are near enough over, and there are some significant challenges associated with the role. The first of which is time off. Although my employer is pretty good at allowing for guaranteed days off and rostering holidays, it’ll often be the case that you will miss important life events, family gatherings, or social occasions. Anti-social working hours and operating at sub-optimal times of the day are also regularities. It then becomes about managing yourself. Having a good grasp of yourself through being self-aware is key, but not always easy.

What are you most proud of?

The hardest question of the set! I think the thing I am currently most proud of is setting myself up on a path that achieves the freedom and balance of life I want at some time in the future. Of course, who knows what hurdles life will throw up, and there is also probably a deeper answer to this question. But let’s stick with that for now.

What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?

  • A radio – on the assumption that the desert island has reception
  • A ball (of some description)
  • Something to write with

How would you like to be remembered?

As a confident, happy, and positive person who actively contributed to the lives of others from all walks of life.

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