“I was told that I wouldn’t make it”, Philippe is self-taught as an airplane pilot in Bordeaux

54-year-old Philippe Galin has 12,000 flight hours to his credit. (©Philippe Galin)

Placed on the furniture of his office, in his house Bordeauxtwo model airplanes proudly point the tips of their noses to the sky. While for many aviation enthusiasts it is primarily a decorative object, e.g Philip Galin, airline pilot For 25 years, they have represented the two aircraft he has flown most often in his life: the Embraer 145 and the Embraer 190.

“It was a dream for me, I always wanted to do this job and in my time it wasn’t that easy to study piloting. My father wanted to be a pilot but didn’t make it,” says the Bordelais.

For 25 years he has been at the controls of these planes, which he crisscrosses Europe for the company Hop, a subsidiary of Air France, from Bordeaux-Mérignac airport and Roissy Charles de Gaulle. Today, the 54-year-old pilot has around 12,000 flight hours to his credit, which corresponds to 500 days in the air. However, nothing was won beforehand.

“I wasn’t very good at school”

To become a civil aviation pilot, the ENAC (Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile) is the silver bullet: “A pilot, if he has the necessary financial resources, he pays for a two-year training course with an airline that recruits and he becomes an airplane pilot. Otherwise, ENAC is the silver bullet: the advantage is that you don’t pay anything, but it’s difficult to get in. There have to be 3,000 candidates for around 80 places.”

“I wasn’t very good at school. I was barely ten, sometimes even less, I repeated a year twice, I didn’t get my high school diploma the first time, so I was always told I couldn’t become a pilot, everyone laughed at me. »

Philip Galinpilot

Aware that it would be difficult for him to be one of the lucky ones, Philippe Galin decided to become a pilot himself. For this he enters the ORSA (the selection of reserve officers of the Air Force on active duty). “After graduating from high school, before you were 21, you passed a selection to take part, you had to be a bit of a mathematician, but it was mainly tests like in the film The stuff of heroes: lots of psychotechnical, psychomotoric tests and with simulators. »

“I had to work twice as hard as the others to become a pilot”

After two years of Air Force training, during which he was able to take control of the Mirage 2000, Philippe, who did not have the funds to enter the Grandes Ecoles, had to finance his flight pilot training: “All my money went into it. I became a free candidate, I bought books, I worked on them. The training as a whole cost me between 80,000 euros out of my pocket. »

For this he chained odd jobs for over two years. Between an ice cream vendor on the beach and a department worker at a Leclerc supermarket, Philippe’s career in the air was built thanks to his work on land.

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The Embraer 145 from 2001 to 2016, one of the aircraft Philippe Galin has flown the most in his career.
The Embraer 145 from 2001 to 2016, one of the aircraft Philippe Galin has flown the most in his career. (©Philippe Galin)

“If you’re self-taught and your parents don’t have enough money to pay for the education of your dreams, you have to find solutions. The guy from Leclerc de Pessac said to me: “But what are you doing here, you are an airplane pilot! “, he says smiling.

“Besides, there were many things I had to learn myself”

But for Philippe, the financial aspect was not the only obstacle. “When I was younger I was told that I was useless in school and that I had little right to do what I could do anywhere but in a school environment as I didn’t get excellent results. . »

Not bad at math, but not good enough to get into the best schools and with a poor level of English, Philippe had to start from scratch. “As a pilot you have to speak good English. I started an education in a school to learn English and then went to England. In the end, in six months, I reached the level I needed to have. It wasn’t just the pilot training, there were many other things I had to teach myself,” says the airline pilot.

Philippe Galin on board the Embraer 190 in 2020.
Philippe Galin on board the Embraer 190 in 2020. (©Philippe Galin)

Today Philippe flew all over Europe at the controls of Hop’s aircraft. After more than 15 years as a captain and with almost five flights a day, a hundred flying hours a month and hundreds of anecdotes, Philippe will definitely ditch his pilot’s uniform at the end of the year.

“As an autodidact, I was always able to keep my feet on the ground. I had to fend for myself to do the job of my dreams, it wasn’t enough for me to pay as long as I had the skills and the means. I know where I come from, I’ve seen “real life” and not just the prestige of the airline pilot’s profession,” concludes the Bordelais.

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