Spending your 18th birthday up in the skies piloting a plane isn't something many people can do. But that's exactly what Lavesh Cheyne R did last year – the budding pilot counts it as one of the most memorable moments in his Private Pilot Licence (PPL) course.
"Flying out to the training area and cruising at 6,500 feet on a cool, gorgeous morning was a picturesque scene that I can never forget. Doing what I love on my birthday was definitely a perfect way for me to kickstart the day."
The Temasek Polytechnic student marked another milestone in his flying journey on 10 Sep when he received his PPL Pilot Wings. One of 24 Singapore Youth Flying Club graduands this year, he also bagged the Singapore Technology (ST) Engineering Excellence Award for his excellent flying performance.
This award is given out to the top three graduands in the club's flying and ground school categories.
Lavesh's interest in flying was piqued from young as both his father – a Singapore Airlines (SIA) pilot – and mother – an Air Operations and Systems Expert in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) – have aviation backgrounds.
Citing them as his major source of inspiration in the pursuit of his piloting dreams, Lavesh said: "I was constantly exposed to the world of aviation, be it commercial or military. I loved the stories that they told me when I was a kid (and) till today, I am still learning from my parents about aviation."
He also fondly recalled the times his family spent in Australia when they accompanied his father for pilot training. "I remember being awestruck by the sight of aircraft taking off and landing."
Visits to the Singapore Airshow over the years, where he was enthralled by the static aircraft exhibits and dynamic aerial displays, further fuelled his interest to fly.
At the age of 13, Lavesh decided to join the SYFC's Aeromodelling Co-Curricular Activity programme for secondary school students.
Looking back, he said: "I joined out of my interest in aviation and was hoping that this would be my first step towards learning how to fly eventually when I reached 16 years old and could sign up for their flying course."
With grit and determination
However, not all was always smooth-sailing for the budding pilot. Self-discipline, efficient time management and a resilient mindset were crucial in helping the 18-year-old, who is pursuing a diploma in Medical Biotechnology, juggle between his academic and family commitments as well as rigorous flying training.
"For me, the PPL course was no bed of roses… There were days I felt that I had performed well for my flight, but there were also days when I didn't do so well.
"Some days I went home feeling disappointed, but I tried to use it as a source of motivation to do better for subsequent flights."
During their intensive year-long pilot training with the SYFC, graduands have to pass a practical flight test and seven ground examinations administered by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.
Now that he has earned his wings, Lavesh is keen to build on his flying accomplishments and hopes to become a military pilot. "Joining the RSAF would be an opportunity for me to pursue my dream of becoming a fighter pilot as well as serve my country."
His favourite aircraft? The F-15SG! "I love the aircraft's fierce and sharp look, its powerful twin engines and the advanced weapons it can carry."
He added: "I stay very close to Paya Lebar Air Base and I can often see them when I look up to the sky. The sound of the engines, the way the aircraft manoeuvres in the air… It's simply mesmerising.
"To be able to pilot the F-15SG one day would be an absolute honour for me. That is the goal I have set for myself and I will continue working toward my dream."