On the Careers Couch

As a successful Commercial Airline Pilot with Aurigny, Tristan Marchent knows more than a little about reaching for the sky to achieve your career goals. Here, he talks to GYone about his passion for striving for professional excellence, hitting a career milestone at 16 and the thrill of jet-setting across Europe and beyond.

What was your childhood like; did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

I was born and raised in Taunton, Somerset which is in the West Country, thankfully never gaining the accent. I was raised just outside of the main town by my mother and father, along with my eldest brother, who now lives in the USA. Coming from a very musical family, music was my first passion and, after watching a school musical where I couldn’t keep my eyes off the drummer, at the tender age of around six, I started learning to play the drums. So, music was something that I wanted to do when I grew up, but this did change shortly a few years later as I’ll explain later…


How about education – did you like school or was it a challenge? Was university on the cards?

I was never the brightest or most academically talented at school, and I did find subjects like maths difficult, but the school I went to was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. After starting at King’s College Taunton, I knew that I wanted to become a Commercial Airline Pilot. I knew university wasn’t necessary but I had to focus hard on my GCSEs to achieve Grade C's and above. Looking back now, it would’ve been a good idea to get that bit of life experience at university and gain a degree, but I decided to crack on with my professional flight training at 19.


How did you decide that you wanted to be a Commercial Airline Pilot?

As mentioned, I was set on becoming a professional musician, playing the drums with artists across the world. A few years later, I went over to a friend’s house during the school holidays, and he showed me this new flight simulator he had on his home computer. Admittedly, we were flying helicopters, but I was fascinated by the game and wanted to get it as soon as I got back home. To my knowledge, there’s no family history connected with the aviation industry but after this encounter, I wanted to visit air shows, take pictures of planes and, whenever we went on holiday, be at the airport early to watch the planes come and go (which still happens to this day…!) Initially, it was about being hundreds of miles up in the air, seeing the world from above and flying to all corners of the globe. Those aspects remain, but I’m also committed to giving everything I can to my work, constantly

improving to attain the highest professional standards and safety, whilst also doing my best to provide a great customer experience.


What was your big break?

It was getting my first professional aviation job at Aurigny back in March 2017. Although this initially wasn’t a flying position, it would end up being one after working within the Flight Operations department alongside fleet and cabin crew managers, the flight operations director and various other staff. I was able to assist and gain insight into various areas of the airline before having the opportunity, six months later, to start my type-rating course to fly the ATR turboprop aircraft. Before I joined Aurigny, I was an aircraft dispatcher at Exeter Airport, which I absolutely loved, so having all my licences and a job already in the industry helped, alongside the ability and commitment to move anywhere for that first flying job opportunity in aviation.


What challenges did you face along the way?

Being a fairly short chap, one of the challenges during my flight training was making sure there were enough cushions to sit on so I could see through the window... The seats were rather low... Thankfully, I don’t require that on the aircraft I fly now which is the Embraer jet aircraft. Joking aside, I would say the financial side was a challenge during my training, so I was incredibly lucky to have my parents’ support. Commercial flight training is something that you cannot get any government financial help from and is achieved through loans or support from other areas. During my training, I was distance-learning for my Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) examinations for two years, whilst working a part-time job at Sainsburys. It was a challenge to keep pushing through the volume of knowledge we needed for the exams in a specific time frame and staying focussed on the end goal. Sometimes to overcome this I would occasionally go flying at my flying club, or just go up to the airport to watch aircraft. This helped me realise why I was doing what I was doing.


What about career highlights?

Career highlights for me have been flying my parents for the first time, moving onto the Embraer 195 aircraft, and flying some of the private charters around Europe both last year and this year. During my initial flight training, the youngest you can undertake your first solo flight is at 16, and I completed this on the evening of my 16th birthday.


Did anyone make a huge difference?

I’ve tried my best to connect with individuals, and a few people made a massive difference. Firstly, my parents are my absolute role models and inspire me every single day to achieve what I want in life. They provide the best support and guidance for everything, of which I certainly wouldn’t be here without them. Secondly, I had a great instructor during my initial flight training. We both now work for different airlines but keep in contact and he is always there for advice. On a side note, I did have a teacher who, during a careers event, stated that I should think of something else to do than become a pilot. This really upset me but ultimately gave me the drive to carry on pushing and prove them wrong! You can accomplish anything if you have the passion, drive, and determination to succeed.


What advice would you give to anyone starting out in your field?

I would say keep making those connections with everyone in the industry. It’s a big sector but also a very small world and you never know when you may bump into someone next or need to contact someone for something. I also enjoy using social media to connect with others in the industry. Take as many opportunities as you can and learn from them. You never know when you may need to use that experience later in life. Above all else though, never give up. If you get knocked down due to a bad flying lesson or exam result, don’t get disheartened. We’re not all perfect and sometimes things don’t go as they plan to. Just take a step back and take on the challenge again!


Any goals that you would still like to achieve?

I personally would really like to achieve a command/captaincy position at Aurigny when I have met the requirements, and when the time is right. I’m also working on a project within the airline, along with the flight operations team, to digitalize most of our documentation onboard and I’d love to accomplish this within the next couple of years. I also would like to do a bit more travelling and improve my fitness.


What do you like to do to unwind?

Since moving to Guernsey, I have taken up paddle boarding within the past year, so I enjoy doing that with friends. I also really enjoy playing and listening to music and generally relaxing. I enjoy playing PC and PlayStation games and heading up to the local for a pint and game of pool with my housemates - the games get quite competitive! I also enjoy photography and watching Formula One!