Meet Sarah, Pilot Manager

I am currently a Pilot Manager responsible for the day to day welfare and support of 350 pilots across Gatwick, Stansted, Bournemouth and Luton airports. There are 4 pilot managers in total across the Northern Region Airlines. It is an incredibly varied role and you never quite know how each day is going to play out.  As a pilot manager, I support every aspect of a pilot’s life within the company from recruitment, to training, to career development, to promotion, to well-being, to retirement.

As a former Army Officer in The Royal Logistic Corps, leadership and management of personnel at scale was at the heart of everything we trained for.  Over the best part of 10 years, I completed 3 tours of Iraq and many of the helicopter or Hercules flights completed out there are the ones that stick with me.  Lying on a heavy backpack on warm tarmac waiting to hear the ‘wokka wokka’ of an incoming helicopter became synonymous with going home and returning to safety. So much so that I now have a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog – Merlin, named after the helicopter that was the main workhorse out on those Iraq tours.

Just after the war in 2003, my troop was lucky enough to have the task of distributing medical supplies flown in to Basra by Sir Richard Branson.  After weeks of living fairly primitively in the desert, it was pretty iconic to see a commercial aircraft and crew come in to land and slightly surreal to be talking to the Virgin boss hoping he wouldn’t notice that you definitely hadn’t slept and probably hadn’t had a shower for a while!

The aviation world has always felt the most akin to the military for me – being surrounded by such an all-consuming logistic operation at all times. Since leaving the Army, I have worked across many industry sectors but have always gravitated back to Aviation. I worked briefly at Heathrow T5 managing the VIP Suite logistics; spent 3 years with Gate Gourmet delivering onboard retail solutions to airlines in Scandinavia, Mexico and India; and have now been in the Northern Region Airlines at TUI for 3 years.

The Airline has something indescribably special about it for me– a continual daily buzz, a rise and fall of operational noise and quiet, a community of individuals always pulling together to ensure success, and great connections and relationships forged along the way through the intensity of shared challenge.