Aspiring Filipino pilots, take flight! New global program ignites your pilot dreams

Dreaming of becoming a pilot? Carl Granali's journey from watching planes in his hometown to flying them in Prague is an inspiring story of determination and serendipity.

By Iconic MNL
6 Min Read

Living near an airport, with its potential downsides like poor air quality and deafening airplane noise, could be a nightmare for some. But for aspiring Filipino pilot Carl Granali, 26, it was the perfect place to be. It was there, amidst the sights and sounds of aviation, that his dream of becoming an airline pilot took flight.

Granali, 26, long dreamed of becoming an airline pilot. It was an aspiration heavily influenced by his father who would frequently take him to an airport near his home in Tacloban City, Leyte to observe planes up-close in his younger years.

Aspiring Filipino pilot

“He would always take me to Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport every Sunday for plane spotting,” Granali said. “I was always fascinated by Airbus planes back then.”

His dream, however, would have to wait. Coming from a family of modest means, Granali knew that attending pilot school was a long shot. The training costs, ranging from Php 3 million to Php 5 million, were simply out of reach for his family. Instead, he opted to pursue a degree in education.

After graduating from university and passing the boards in 2018, Granali worked as a lecturer in a specialized review center, conducting review sessions in different sites across the country to help aspiring teachers pass their licensure exams. But his goal of becoming a pilot had never completely drifted out of the picture. “I became a teacher by profession, believing it would pave the way for me to achieve my ultimate dream of becoming an airline pilot,” he said.

After facing numerous rejections from scholarship programs, Granali’s persistence paid off in 2022 when he discovered CADETPILOT.AERO, a European flight training organization, through a Filipino pilot vlogger.

Shortlisted and acing two aptitude exams, Granali secured a spot in the cadet pilot program, embarking on a 91-week sponsored training journey in the Czech Republic. The organization covered all expenses, from training costs to housing and monthly stipends, allowing him to focus solely on his studies. Reimbursement will occur upon graduation, contingent on his employment as an airline pilot.

“It was by far the most challenging application journey I have ever experienced,” he continued. “But I never doubted myself, not even once. In fact, I was more excited than ever. For the longest time, I had prepared for an opportunity like this.”

Patrik Dvorak, the training manager at e CADETPILOT.AERO, described Granali as a highly motivated candidate, a trait that eventually earned him a spot in the program despite not having any experience in the aviation industry at all.

“During the application process, we neither require our cadets to have any specialized knowledge nor prior flying experience. In Mr. Granali’s case, he certainly possessed the right set of skills and motivation,” Dvorak said.

Training to fly

Now a trainee pilot, Granali has comfortably settled in and is almost completing his 91-week training program in Prague.

On weekdays, Granali maintains a hectic schedule, shuttling between his accommodation and school, where he spends what has become his typical day doing several hours of ground sessions and flight training.

Aspiring Filipino pilot

But in his free time, he does what tourists and expats and even locals would normally do: Roam around the quaint, medieval city center of Prague and feel its abounding soul. He also enjoys discovering the city’s well-preserved architectural landmarks that offer a glimpse of its rich history, identity, and creativity. “Prague is also known as the ‘City of Spires’. So, when we fly in the immediate vicinity of the city, we always get to see the beautiful castles around it,” he said.

Upon completing his pilot course, Granali will receive an EASA pilot license with a type rating, not only guaranteeing job placement support but also enabling him to fly airliners like Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 in the world of commercial aviation.

“I highly recommend CADETPILOT.AERO to all aspiring Filipino pilots. An opportunity like this is rare, not to mention the chance to study in one of the safest and best cities for students in the world.” he said.

Granali’s journey, from his childhood fascination with watching planes take off and land in his hometown to now expertly piloting various aircraft in Prague, proves that holding onto your purpose, unwavering determination, and a touch of serendipity can make the dream a reality.

Someday, he hopes to combine his love of flying aircraft and his love of teaching. 

“My goal is to retire in the left seat as a captain and work as an instructor. As a teacher by profession before I pursue my dream of becoming a pilot, I also want to impart my years of knowledge and experience to the next generation of pilots,” he said.

CADETPILOT.AERO has recently opened its application in the Philippines. Interested applicants may apply on its website until March 15.

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