It is the very desire of conquering the heavens that a few inspired among us choose to learn to fly. Born without wings they may be, but they choose to undertake the opportunity to let their hair down and their wings grow. They evolve from that talented boy or girl sitting next to you, into becoming something greater; they become one of the few to actually pursue their childhood dreams with perseverance and dedication. They become pilots, a position each one of us have, at least once, aspired to attain.
But taking flight isn't an easy task. To fully understand the process and grasp the intricacies involved, there are steps that need to be taken. The first step is of course to enroll in a good pilot school. This is where Arirang Flying School comes into the picture. Arirang Aviation, a pioneer in regional and corporate flight operation, began 15 years ago. A stellar safety record and ample pride in quality of service provided saw Arirang Aviation firmly establish their reputation.
Youngone Corporation, after spending over a decade in this field, decided to establish the country's premier flight school. . Kihak Sung, chairman of operations, shared this vision and understood the requirement for top quality pilots trained in the latest methods of operation.
On 15 September, 2010 Arirang Flying School was finally launched and by December of the same year, training for the very first batch started with 8 students enrolled.
“I never wanted to have more than 8 students per batch, because I wanted each of them to be made into a pilot, individually,” Captain Sikder Mesbahuddin Ahmed explained.
“This isn't where we only just them the book knowledge to be pilots but we give them the pilot lifestyle from the very start.”
The hard work and planning put behind the school is quite evident. State of the art facilities, highly trained faculty members and the right environment are all present to ensure the transition of a child's dream to reality.
Aspiring pilots are trained, provided the best tools and curriculum and groomed to become assets of a burgeoning industry. What is rather evident is the emphasis given to safety with the students being reminded to take precautions every step of the way.
Even outside the walls of the classrooms, there are posters showing the safety measures that need to be taken before every flight. “We have an excellent flight safety record and we take it seriously,” Captain Ahmed informs.
Arirang Aviation ensures the presence of foreign trained aeronautical engineers who keep the planes up to date and in perfect shape.
“We have the best training aircraft in the country and I don't think any other school in this country offers that,” said a student, alluding to the presence of the famous Cirrus SR-20.
This machine is the jewel in the crown in a fleet boasting 8 different other aircrafts. Even old models like the Cessna have been upgraded with the newest machinery and controls.
Apart from introducing the pupils to the latest in industry standard avionics, complemented by comprehensive training in instrument flying along with an internationally approved curriculum. Students in the latest batch, will now be using iPads for all their classroom lessons, replacing the need to carry books.
All lectures, slides and books also have soft copies which are regularly distributed among the students to always keep them in the loop. What's also impressive is the meticulous entry of each and every student data, such as test scores, flight times, teacher's notes, progress reports, etc, all filed away and kept also in soft copies to be handed to the students on their graduation.
Arirang offers a two year course designed to breed the requirements of a great pilot into their pupils. The two year courses are conducted in two batches every year, in summer and winter. Since each batch takes no more than 10 applicants every semester, a meticulous selection process follows. Students are expected to sit through a 100 mark written exam on English, Math and IQ and then follow it up by taking a Viva in front of a specially selected board.
Along with a good command over English, Computer literacy is also expected. Applicants also must have a minimum of HSC or equivalent having the subjects Physics and Mathematics. The entire course, inclusive of food and boarding in Chittagong, sums up to a total outlay of around 35 lakh. However, the investment can be easily recouped given the growth in the aviation industry, with many domestic airlines opening their doors for business.
Industry experts claim that a good pilot can easily get a starting salary of above Tk.50000 almost double than that of many fresh graduates in other sectors. Of course, with most pilots, monetary pursuit isn't all that this is about.
It's about reaching for the stars, aiming high and conquering heavens, testament to man's infinite desires.
What also stands out is the number of female candidates aspiring to become pilots. Most of them name their fathers as inspirations and support, contradicting popular belief.
Shajidina Sultana Sony, a flight instructor at the school, believes that although it is hard for a female to break into this industry in Bangladesh, Arirang provides the most comfortable working environment and that everyone is quite encouraging. “We all face problems, but here, everyone present is very supportive and proud and everyone's treated equally,” she says. This sentiment is repeated by the students, when quizzed on whether their gender ever became an issue, here or at home.
In the future, Arirang has grand plans.
They plan on increasing their fleet number from three to five and taking applicants from abroad. A computer based exam will also be introduced, along with a Simulator trainer and gaining multi engine rating.
“ I was a lecturer in the USA as well and my personal ambition is to make our facilities and our school better than the ones I taught at abroad,” Captain Ahmed stated. Along with proper guidance, Arirang provides all the necessities to help one become Bangladesh's next best aviator, having already seen 16 commercial and private licenses being bestowed upon their graduates. Now, they are on course to give the next generation their set of wings. While that happens, Arirang Flying School shares a vision of forever moving forward and truly living the phrase, 'sky is the limit'
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Arirang Flying School for arranging the photoshoot