Dundee High-Flyer Becomes Scotland’s First Flying Graduate to Secure Pilot Post

A Dundee aviation enthusiast, who has been flying since the age of 14, has become Scotland’s first flying graduate to land a post with the largest independent regional airline in Europe.

Dundee-born Gavin Ritchie (24) is one of the first batch of 53 students who will graduate from Tayside Aviation’s BSc (Hons) Professional Aviation Pilot Practice degree at Middlesex University in June 2019.

Having now completed the degree, the first of its kind available in Scotland, Gavin has become the first graduate to land a pilot post. Due to the fast-track nature of the degree, Gavin could be on course to become a Captain within two years.

Gavin Ritchie

Gavin Ritchie


Taking up the position of First Officer on the Dash 8 Q400 aircraft with Flybe on 1 November 2018, Gavin was two years into the University of Dundee’s Mechanical Engineering degree when he decided to switch to Tayside Aviation’s flying degree. He was already a familiar face with the award-winning family business, having been learning to fly in his own time since the age of 14, flying solo at the age of 16 and obtaining his Private Pilot’s Licence at the age of 17, the minimum national requirement.

Today, Gavin bid farewell to Tayside Aviation en route to his new base of Edinburgh Airport. Having held the post of Flight Instructor since April 2017, alongside his degree work, he has surpassed over 1,000 flying hours.
Gavin went on to win ‘Student of the Year’ award from the Aviation Skills Partnership, which was heavily involved in the formation of the degree in conjunction with Middlesex University back in 2015.

James Watt, Managing Director commented, “Gavin caught our attention from the outset – with the right work ethic, aptitude and ability, we could see that he was going to be a great all-rounder with lots of potential. He has since gone on to become a brilliant Flight Instructor and has grown in both skills and confidence. Many people love the idea of becoming a pilot but think the costs will be prohibitive. However, our degree slashes the costs and is helping make the dream a reality for many who would otherwise not have the funds to become a pilot. It will be fantastic to see the first cohort graduate next Summer, and to watch their careers take off thereafter!”

Indeed, pursuing the pilot dream typically costs around £120K in an integrated flying school, but only £60K through Tayside Aviation’s programme.

Gavin said, “When I first heard about the degree, I felt this was the ideal route for me. It meant I could continue studying for a degree, but also undertake commercial flight training, with the end goal of landing a job with an airline. The degree focuses on critical reflection and helps promote self-development throughout each flying stage. In a professional environment, this is very important for progressing through the flight training, but also for developing skills as a flight instructor and airline pilot in the long term. I would definitely like to gain captaincy in the coming years, but also use my experience from flight instruction to progress to more senior training roles within the airline. I have a lot to thank Tayside Aviation for and will look back on my days here very fondly.”

Flybe’s Chief Pilot, Stuart Mitchell added, “We are delighted to be one of the first airlines to employ one of the graduates from Tayside Aviation’s inaugural flying degree programme, and that such a clearly talented new pilot as Gavin has chosen to join us. We wish him and his cohort every success as they embark on their new careers with us in November.”

Full entry requirements for the degree course can be viewed at www.taysideaviation.com or by calling (01382) 644372. Tayside Aviation also holds monthly open days to provide information and course overviews. To register your interest, visit recruitment@taysideaviation.com.


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