The future pilot Vainius Lazauskas is a former dental hygiene specialist from Kaunas, who decided to leave this field for a career in aviation. Although he has been watching the sky since he was a child, earlier this dream of becoming a pilot seemed unrealistic, thus it was simply put aside. He started working in a perspective field of odontology, however, he has never forgotten his dream. Today Vainius is studying at aviation academy and preparing for working as a pilot.
We talked to Vainius about his career twists and turns during his short break time, right after his aviation theory course, and before the start of his practical training.
Vainius, could you tell us how and when aviation appeared in your life?
The field of aviation has always appealed to me. However, aviation in Lithuania seemed unreal, especially aviation studies. I found this profession interesting and responsible. A pilot was always someone who is a real professional, an authority. Their salary seemed attractive as well. But I didn‘t reveal my dream of becoming a pilot to anyone, simply because I didn‘t consider it as something realistic back then. So after school I chose a different occupation. Much later, when I was already working in my chosen field I came across a message about aviation studies in Lithuania on a social network. This was when I started thinking of aviation again.
You have mentioned a job in a different field. Would you mind telling us about your life before aviation?
As I have already mentioned, the idea of becoming a pilot seemed unreal, unattainable. I put this dream aside and went for something more real – I chose dental hygiene studies at Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. After my studies I worked as a dental hygiene specialist and an assistant to a surgeon.
That was the time when that message on a social network turned my life upside down. I got engaged with the information provided in that advertisement. I liked the fact that the studies are organised in Lithuania, and there is no need to go abroad. I liked the fact of studying in an international environment at an aviation academy even more. Then I started thinking: ‚Why not have a try at pursuing my childhood dream. I may succeed. And even if i don‘t, at least I will have tried.‘ I didn‘t want to do nothing thus I gave it a try. I just knew if I hadn‘t tried, I would regret that in the future. Besides, I already had a job, so I didn‘t feel like taking a big risk.
How did your family and friends react to your decision to change your career path?
My family members were really surprised as I had never talked about my dream of becoming a pilot. I used to keep this dream to myself as I was never seriously considering pursuing it. My parents at first were very sceptical about this, they might have thought I had gone crazy. They were happy about me having stability in a perspective field of medicine. At first, nothing seemed to be real, but we talked and after some time they got used to the idea, and now they support me.
As for my friends, they were even more sceptical than my parents. They were surprised and kept asking me what I don‘t like in odontology, how come I decided to become a pilot as these two fields are really far away from one another. Some of them even claimed I would fail. However, after I managed to get through the selection procedures, everyone was surprised again. And now, all of them support me.
You have encountered a negative reaction of your family and friends. How do your new aquaintances react once they find out you are studying aviation?
People are usually surprised. There exists a stereotype: everyone, especially Lithuanians, tends to think a pilot‘s profession is something remote and unattainable. I myself used to think the same way. However, usually those reactions are positive.
Have you noticed any other stereotypes or myths about your profession?
I surely have. For example, everybody knows a pilot must be of perfect health and to have perfect eyesight. I would agree to disagree on that. The eyesight must be good, however, glasses or lenses can be used to improve the situation. Health requirements are not as high as everyone thinks. If you are generally healthy, you feel good and don‘t have any chronic diseases, it should not be a challenge to pass a medical assessment.
You studied medicine and worked in that field. Could you reveal the challenges of pilot studies? Did you find anything easier than expected?
Both, the fields and the studies, are very different. The beginning was quite challenging, I needed to change my studying habits. The major difference was that the language of aviation studies is English, I came across new terms, notions, every single day I needed to process a great deal of completely new information to me. However, as time went by, I got used to both – the pace of studying as well as the scope of new information.
Have you had a chance to apply your knowledge and experience of your earlier studies?
These two areas are completely different. It would be a real challenge to apply the knowledge of odontology to the field of aviation. What I found handy was my studying habits from the earlier studies since odontology exams are challenging and you must make a real effort to pass them. In general I can say I have applied my studying strategy.
Would you mind revealing what your studying strategy is?
It is very simple. It is based on time management. The main thing is to make a plan and to manage your time. If not in a written form, then at least to keep your shedule in your mind and stick to it. It is not only about the study time. Leisure time is equally important. If you have a plan and follow it, you‘ll manage to do everything you need to. But if you act without a plan, it‘s difficult to manage everything.
It‘s only the very beginning of your flying practice. Do you have an idea of what type of aircraft you would like to fly in the future?
‘Airbus’ aircraft really appeal to me. After completing my studies I’d like to fly the narrow-body A320. I personally prefer smaller aircraft and short-haul flights, although big metal birds attract everyone’s attention and, surely, it would be enjoyable to fly one of these. For example, the new Airbus A350 really appeals to me although it is a wide-body aircraft. One day I might fly this one as well. Never say never.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
In a decade I see myself in the field of aviation. I’ll be flying – this is the reason I want to become a pilot. I suppose this period is a sufficient time to establish oneself in airlines and to accumulate a sufficient amount of flying experience in order to climb to the position of a captain. Speaking of airlines, strong players like ‘Qatar Airways‘ or ‚Emirates‘ are the ones that appeal to me. From a geographical perspective, I would like to fly in Europe – first, it‘s closer to home; another reason is that I prefer short-haul flights which are more popular in Europe.