Discovering a career path that ignites one's passion is no small feat. However, for Manuel Chamorro, a former Pilot and current Trainer and Flight Safety Officer at Avion Express, a leading operator in narrow-body ACMI and charter flights, the choice was crystal clear. Chamorro's father's love for aviation inspired him to start flying at the young age of 16, and he has been flying ever since. Today, he is eager to pass on his experience and knowledge to the next generation of pilots.
What inspired you to become a pilot?
My father was an air force pilot in Spain and, as a kid, I was living on the premises of the air force base. Growing up in such an environment and seeing fighter jets, such as North American F86 “Sabre" jets, every day, inspired me to follow in my father’s footsteps. However, I found my passion for aviation later, at the age of 16, when I had my first solo glider flight, which ignited a fire in my soul.
This job is very dynamic and challenging, and every day is different from the previous one. So, facing unique challenges and meeting new people every day is what makes this job so charming.
How many years have you been a pilot and how long have you been flying for Avion Express?
My career as a pilot lasted for almost 50 years. I began my career in the Spanish Airforce, where I took early retirement as a Lieutenant colonel. After that, my career in airlines was about 33 years of nonstop flying.
I have been flying for Avion Express only for one year, but when I was called by the airline, I was sceptical about getting a pilot’s position, being already 64! Yet I was lucky, and I am still grateful to Avion Express for giving me the chance to keep enjoying my passion for one more year.
Can you share some of your most memorable experiences or moments from your time as a pilot?
I can think of many memories and special moments that I enjoyed as a pilot; after all, it has been a long time up there. But the most special one was a glider ride, in a double seater that I shared with my father when I knew he was very sick and had only a few months left.
I handed the controls over to him once we were about 3000 feet in the air, and as I watched how much he loved getting back in the air and how skillful and passionate he was about flying, I felt grateful to be able to share that passion with him.
What do you think were the most challenging aspects of being a pilot, and how did you overcome those challenges?
The most challenging aspect of being a professional pilot is to balance professional life with your family and personal life. Families also go through a lot, having their loved ones away from home for so many days every month.
For me, it was of the utmost importance that my family understood how much their support was needed.
What’s next in your career at Avion Express? Tell us a little bit about your new position.
I was fortunate to be selected as a trainer and as a Flight Safety Officer for Avion Express. Even though I have gained experience in these areas throughout my career, Avion Express has allowed me to continue honing both of my skills and maintain a close connection with my passion after reaching retirement age.
To transfer the knowledge and experience accumulated during so many years to the new generation of Avion Express pilots is a privilege that also gives me the opportunity to keep learning from other colleagues.