Teacher swaps classroom for cockpit

A TRAINEE primary school teacher decided to swap the classroom for the clouds and pursue her dream of becoming a commercial pilot.

James Hore

A TRAINEE primary school teacher decided to swap the classroom for the clouds and pursue her dream of becoming a commercial pilot.

Adventurous Ruth Huxter, 33, was studying for a PGCE teaching qualification at university when she decided to pack it in, eventually re-mortgaging her home for £70,000 and take up a 15-month flying course in Spain.

Miss Huxter, from Halstead, is now a fully-qualified commercial pilot able to fly passengers and freight anywhere in the world.

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The high-flyer, who has a degree in languages and industry, had previously lived in Australia and taught English to secondary school children.

The 33-year-old decided to get into primary school teaching and did her PGCE at Canterbury Christchurch University College.

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But while she was on the course something made Miss Huxter think there was something more out there for her.

She said: “I felt the classroom was a bit restrictive and I've always been interested in aviation.

“I did my first flight at 11 when I was in a light single-engine aircraft with my dad and I really enjoyed it.”

While doing her PGCE, Miss Huxter looked into flying again but realised training would be expensive and time-consuming.

To get closer to her dream profession she applied to become British Airways cabin crew hoping she could apply to their sponsorship scheme to become a pilot.

But the scheme was stopped after the pressures of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

Instead, she took 12 months of unpaid leave to go to Australia and work at a children's camp and get her private pilot's licence, which cost £4,000.

Desperate to save money to do her commercial licence, her parents helped her buy a house which she lived in for two years to raise enough money to remortgage it and raise the £70,000 she needed.

Finally last year, after a 10-year struggle, she jetted off to Jerez in Spain to do a 15 month course and is now a fully qualified pilot.

She said: “No-one ever questions if a woman goes to get her driving licence but because it's technical rather than a creative industry, it's assumed men are better at flying.

“You don't usually expect engineers to be girls. Women actually make very good pilots for a number of reasons. They are more capable of multi-tasking.

“When you are a pilot you need to listen in on the radio, monitor your position on the systems like the distance you are from the next beacon and temperature of your cabin, and monitor the fuel flow.

“In actual fact, I have had comments about other women being better pilots than men.”

Miss Huxter qualified last month and is applying for jobs with all the major airlines.

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