Former Student Mark Soars Towards Dream of Becoming a Pilot

In Apprenticeships, Courses, In the Press, News, School Leavers, on the 27th, March 2015

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Flying high, former Darlington College student Mark Parsonage

He is closing in on his commercial pilot’s licence after taking to air in this country and abroad.

But he plans to forsake the relative safety of passenger jet aviation in favour of ‘handle and stick’ flying in countries such as Alaska, New Zealand, Africa and Papua New Guinea, to areas difficult to access by land.

“Passenger jets are much more flying by computer,” said Mark, of Catterick Village, who studied a Level 3 extended diploma in mechanical engineering at Darlington College, before reading aircraft technology with pilot studies at Leeds University.

“I’m much more into seats-of-your-pants flying and already have about 40 hours in America, where aeroplanes are much more part of the culture. I spent two weeks flying from California to Florida. You have to fly early as the storms build through the day and the turbulence can be something else. I can see myself doing a job like tackling bush fires with aerial water bombing.”

His former Darlington College tutor Rob Elliot said he was confident Mark would achieve his dream.

“I always had him picked out as a bit of a Biggles,” he said. “He was focussed from the word go on a career in aviation and it is really exciting for me to see how far he has come”

The son of an aircraft engineer, Mark currently works in a similar role at Bagby Airfield, near Thirsk, for Graham Fox Aircraft Engineering. He is also involved in designing, building and flying model aircraft.

“The Darlington College course proved to be extremely useful as it familiarises you with the practical potential of Autocad and maths,” he said.

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