Tallaght Community School

Alan Fitzpatrick Graduate 1985

Alan Fitzpatrick Graduate 1985

Captain Alan Fitzpatrick, TRE(S) A330/A320
Flight Operations
Aer Lingus

Aviation has always been a passion of mine, so in many ways I found myself luckier than most in that I knew from a very early age ‘what’ it was I wanted to do with my life. The challenge in my case, was always more a question of “how” I could make that a reality.

Although none of us can ever be guaranteed that the door to the career path of choice will ever open up and beckon us through, I was always determined that should opportunity come knocking, I would at least be as prepared as possible. Frustratingly, in the back of my mind I always knew that despite any and all efforts on my part, “luck”, would inevitably play a role. Difficult as it was, I made a determined effort to push those apprehensions to the back of my mind, and conditioned myself to instead believe in the time old cliché …..

“ … that if you want something bad enough, if you really want it bad enough, if you work for it long enough, believe in it strong enough, you will just about get it, whatever it is.”

Armed with that belief, and with this one sole ambition in mind, I researched, studied, and planned how I might engineer my way to being in that right place, at that right time, with something constructive and convincing to say for myself in the hope of winning over those who had the power to make that dream a reality.

TCS offered me the educational opportunity to concentrate on those skill sets and academic subjects which I had already identified as being potentially important. With the help and guidance of a dedicated teaching staff, successfully completing the Leaving Certificate, “lady luck” did indeed come knocking ….

Turning my back on university, I applied for, and was accepted into Aer Lingus as an apprentice aircraft mechanic. Although not exactly the career I had envisaged for myself, I clearly saw it for what it was, a golden opportunity to get at least one foot inside the aviation door. After all the commitment and hard work, I wasn’t going to pass that up. At the same time however, neither was I going to ignore my future education. With a bus change in the city centre, the daily commute to the airport started at 5:30 every morning, arriving back home in Tallaght for 5:30 in the evening, before heading back into Bolton Street three nights a week in order to complete, on my own time, that university education I had earlier foregone. Three out of the four year apprenticeship completed, “lady luck” called again ….

Aer Lingus, for the first time in over a decade were advertising for cadet, “ab initio” pilots, and corny as it sounds, I knew that this was the opportunity I had been waiting and preparing for, all my life ….

My efforts obviously impressed someone, as three weeks, one aptitude test, two interviews, two medicals and a psychological evaluation later, I found myself on the way to flight school in Florida, where I would complete my initial basic training over the next nine months. Following that it was back to Dublin where Aer Lingus put me through endless hours of classroom and flight simulation, where every conceivable emergency was practiced, tested and graded, before we were allowed to eventually fly members of the public.

That was over 30 years ago. In the interim, not only was I promoted to Captain, but I was also very fortunate in having the opportunity to serve as an instructor for large periods of that time. This allowed me to “give back” and “reinvest”, in those young people who had followed in my footsteps.

As Chief Flight Instructor (CFI) for Aer Lingus from 2009-2015, entrusted with responsibility for the day-to-day training standards of over 500 pilots, I am proud to say that I was instrumental in implementing a modern training program, which today sees us operate at a standard second to none. I have been given the opportunity to conduct numerous flight tests. Airborne tests, which have taken theses large transport aircraft to the very edge of the flight envelope, and have been entrusted to display the company’s aircraft at numerous air shows and high profile events. I have seen the most spectacular of mountain ranges, burning red deserts, oceans, icebergs and cityscapes, from the most privileged of vantage points. I have seen the most beautiful of sunsets over the Greenland ice shelf, and eaten breakfast as the rising sun explodes over the horizon, while still mid Atlantic. But above all, one of the most rewarding tasks has been sitting on the selection boards for new pilot entrants, and having the privilege of identifying and rewarding those young people, just like me, who wouldn’t give up on their dreams …….. no matter what!!

30 years ago I learnt an important life lesson, which stays with me to this day. When some around you ridicule and try to tell you that your ambitions and dreams are unachievable …. simply don’t listen!! Nobody has the right or foresight for that matter, to tell you that you “can’t”. Whether you’ll eventually be as “lucky” as I undoubtedly was, remember the journey to your eventual destination is as important as that destination in itself. Had I not been as fortunate as I subsequently was, I have no doubt whatsoever that my preparation to become a pilot would have undoubtedly opened alternative doors, and career paths, which I am convinced would likewise have enriched my life, if perhaps not to the very same extent.

It was once said that ….

“What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are”

Today, I continue to operate as a senior Training Captain on Aer Lingus’ transatlantic fleet. Safely transporting our customers to and from the cities of North America on a weekly basis, while also training and checking our pilots in state of the art simulators. Decades later, with over 20,000hrs of flight time under my belt, I continue to proudly say that I am a past pupil of Tallaght Community School, having graduated in 1985.

My experience of TCS and the interaction I had with the teaching staff were overwhelmingly positive. My memories are fond, and some of those classmates of old, I’m glad to say, I still call friends.

Captain Alan Fitzpatrick, TRE(S) A330/A320
Flight Operations
Aer Lingus

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