We love encouraging career progression here at Virgin, but this morning really took my breath away. I was Danielle Stokes' first ever passenger as she took me up, up and away on a flight at Virgin Australia's Pilot Cadet Program in Adelaide. The young pilot's previous job? Working as cabin crew at Virgin Australia. Before that, she was working in a cafe to save money for pilot training.
The flight was brilliant - a perfect take-off, landing (and some thrills when Danielle performed a surprise loop-the-loop!) - and it was great to meet all of the Pilot Cadet Program team. We decided to develop the program to make sure we have a long-term pipeline of young talent coming through as Virgin Australia continues to develop. It is also about providing opportunities for young people and making it possible for more Australians to realise their dream of becoming commercial airline pilots.
In the first year of the program we had nearly 1200 applicants and narrowed it down to just eight places, coming from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. The chosen Cadets are doing a fantastic job, growing in confidence and going above and beyond to achieve their ambitions. We provide them help with finances, accommodation and meals and they plan to become First Officers with Virgin Australia after completing their course.
Now, Danielle, another of our pilots who has enjoyed impressive career progression is Dave Mackay, who went from being a Virgin Atlantic Captain to becoming Chief Pilot at Virgin Galactic. Perhaps you'll be next! Aim for the stars.