Most Europeans consider going to Vietnam for a holiday whereas Vietnamese tend to come to Europe. Both the former and the latter find the mentioned locations interesting and even exotic from their own point of view. But can you ever guess the reason (other than holiday) why Vietnamese come to Europe? Would you be amazed to hear that this reason is Cadet Training Program for pilots?
We had a chance to talk to Phan Anh Nguyen, one of five Vietnamese students that are currently doing their pilot training in Lithuania. We asked him to share his experience of living here as well as to tell us why he chose aviation in the first place.
The first question which comes to my mind when talking to a future pilot is always the same – why aviation? Phan Anh has not been thinking about aviation since his early childhood. Actually, this thought hit him only 6 years ago when he was in his twenties and met his brother in law who was a Captain of Vietnam Airlines. Talks about the job, how to handle an airplane, deal with different weather conditions or delays made Phan Anh get interested in aviation.
“It gave me some basic knowledge and inspired me. I fell in love with aviation immediately as it was intriguing. However, it still seemed to be only pieces of a puzzle game to me.”
As most of those, who are really into aviation, Phan Anh did not have a chance to leave everything behind and start his pilot career immediately. He was in his 2nd year at university, studying engineering at that time. In the following five years Phan Anh graduated from university and started working, he was trying to convince his parents to change their minds and believe in a future pilot’s dream.
“Eventually, my constant persuasive talks paid off. One beautiful morning my father asked me – “So how will it be? Give me your plan how you are going to become a pilot?” I do not think I will ever forget that fateful day.”
Phan Anh sees aviation as the most adorable wonder of humanity since the first flight of the Wright brothers. He admires how it combines advanced technologies and uses complicated processes.
“The more I think about aviation, the smaller I feel, compared with the amount of knowledge mankind invested in it. In the following weeks I am going to push my first throttle and pull up my first flying machine, not so big, a small Tecnam P2002JF, but it is the moment I have been preparing and waiting for so long.”
Our interviewee started his pilot training at Bay Viet Academy (Vietnam). It is a great memory for him as he met his future colleagues there. Each of them had their own story but they all had the same goal – to conquer the sky. He was studying there for six months and met a number of people from different fields of aviation. Both civilian and military pilots, ATCs, meteorologists, mechanics and engineers, they all gave a great support and knowledge.
After passing exams in Vietnam, every student has to choose one of three options for further studies. Phan Anh has chosen Lithuania (Europe) over Australia and the USA because of the highly valued quality of training under EASA regulations here. Moreover, he has always wanted to visit Europe.
When asked if it is difficult to study, Phan Anh had a short answer – yes. Because one needs to study constantly and according to his teacher “The pilot needs to keep their knowledge updated all the time, even when he feels it is already in his blood”. A bit later he corrected himself – „It is not that hard to study when you love what you do“.
“We all understand aviation in our own way; however, the method is not important because what we have learned will stay with us for the rest of our lives in the aviation career. For me, studying to become a pilot is a dream come true. Even when it knocks me down sometimes, I picture a scene of flying, I stand up, flick the dust off and keep moving forward… So far, so good.”
Destination – Lithuania – WHAT? Sometimes not only a lack of knowledge might lead to misunderstandings. In this case, our future pilot was lost in translation.
“To be honest, Vietnamese call “Lithuania” in a different way, so when we heard about its English name for the first time, most of us felt a bit confused about this country, some even had no idea where it is located.”
After having spent two months in Lithuania, the student reveals that it is a very nice country; people are kind and helpful here – “I love the peaceful environment in this country”. He points out clean and clear air. However, Phan Anh finds the taste of food unusual. However, he admits to finding Asian ingredients and spices at supermarkets easily.
“The prices are reasonable here; I can say they are more reasonable compared to those in Saigon.”
The only thing Phan Anh is concerned about in this part of the world is the coming winter as he is not used to cold and snow.
Next step – flights!
This future pilot has just passed his exams at CAA and cannot wait for the flights to start. However, he admits that the theory is undoubtedly worth all the time spent studying it and quotes a famous Vietnamese idiom – “Rushing leads to no success”.
Phan Anh always remembers those times when he was thinking of the moment of pushing a throttle and pulling the control wheel. The time when he takes off into the sky is coming soon. He assures that it is something worth fighting for.