Heading Towards the Boundaryless Sky

The story of Santhusa – A Student Pilot.

Since the time I remember things, I was fascinated by everything that flies. From birds to paper rockets to aeroplanes and space shuttles. I remember staring at the gliding eagles that occasionally flew over where I lived, how I came out of the house every time an aircraft flew over thousands of feet above with their chemtrails which at the time, I thought were the exhaust smoke from the aircraft and how I built and played with clay models of the space shuttles.

By the end of my primary school, I had already decided what I wanted to do, I wanted to be a Pilot. This ambition only grew stronger as I got older. This did not change even when my parents showed a bit of reluctance at first.

Fast forward to grade 10, when I saw a notice displayed about an Aviation Course conducted by our school’s Aviation Society, it was a no brainer for me. On the same day evening, I signed up for the course and got the membership at Royal College Aviation Society. This decision changed my whole life. At the society I learned about the licencing structure and that I could start training at 16, and there were members in the society who were flying for the Private Pilot License (PPL) while still schooling. After consulting the flight academy that was recommended to me by the seniors in the society, I enrolled at Millennium Flight Academy and started my training at 16 right after O/Ls. And my parents reluctantly gave the green light as their stubborn kid didn’t want to do anything else but flying.

I completed my first license, the PPL by the time I was only 17, the minimum age to obtain the license. By this time, I had earned the full support of my parents, especially my mother who up to date, remains my biggest supporter. I returned to the school for the A/Ls and I was appointed as the Chairman of the Aviation Society for the year 2015. During my time in the society I learned many things and opened up many opportunities for myself from the start to the end. I stayed in school for nearly one and half years following my A/Ls after being appointed as a Senior Prefect in the College, and it was a good exposure and a great opportunity to get my leadership and communicational skills polished while serving my Alma Mater, which opened up the opportunities I got and shaped my journey.

I returned for flight training soon afterwards to continue my training into Commercial level. I wanted to add an extra qualification than just my license, as it would open more opportunities in the career, as well as the possibility of the additional qualification being a mandatory requirement in the future. This is when I heard about the Top Up Degree programme at Imperial College. The programme was recommended to us by our Chief Ground Instructor at the time and after completing our Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) examinations, we were eligible to follow the degree programme.

And therefore, my ATPL batchmate, Nicola, and I joined ICBS to follow the BA in Global Business degree programme. The staff was very friendly from the beginning. Soon after we sat for our first class. It was a novel experience for both of us since both were science stream students in school, and at the time only had heard about assignments but never actually completed one, or knew how to do one.

But the academic staff was well experienced and really helpful during the entirety of the course. We learnt most things from scratch, especially the assignments, and then later the research. What started out as just a bid to gain an additional qualification under the belt, became an important learning curve that altered the way we perceived many things. It wasn’t just another qualification, but also an important life experience. Both of us, who had no prior experience with assignments, completed our assignments well and learnt many new things. And a similar pattern was followed during the final stage as well where we were supposed to conduct a research, where again we did not have any prior experience. The research was a very good opportunity given for us to probe in to the real business world.

Looking back at the programme, I can, without a doubt say that it was a very productive programme and we made a good decision by deciding to go through it. I gained an insight into the business environments that I didn’t possess before the programme and learned new skills. My primary goal was always flying. Most of my decisions, including the one to start the degree programme at ICBS were focussed on getting to the stage where I wanted to be as an Aviator. In the journey I have taken so far, from the days at Royal College Aviation Society, to a Ground Instructor at my Flight Academy, ICBS and the BA in Global Business programme marks an important landmark. I have a lot more to go and many hurdles to overcome in that journey, and I’m certain that the experience I gained at ICBS will be of great use in that journey to come.

Santhusa Ravihara Wijethunga
BA Global Business

Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) - Exams Complete