Let me introduce myself. My name is Pavel Semchenko, and I am a beginner civil pilot.
I was born and raised in Khabarovsk, Russia, where I enrolled in Pacific State University, obtained my bachelor’s and then master’s degree cum laude in information systems; later, I was conferred the degree of candidate of technology in system analysis, control, and processing of information.
Why didn’t I enroll in a flight school straight away rather than doing my studies? Back then, becoming a pilot seemed something so unachievable that I decided to take up computer technologies, my another passion.
It is worth noting that my education and experience were of great assistance in paying my training as a commercial pilot in Russia.
I received a PPL at a flight school in the Russian Far East in 2014.
It was in February 2016 that I graduated from Chelyabinsk Flight School of Civil Aviation, took a course in international airlines and aviation English, successfully passed the ICAO level 4 English test on the first attempt, and received my precious commercial pilot certificate with an “English proficient” statement.
I even managed to get further training as an aerodynamically controlled aircraft pilot (actually, an ultralight pilot) and got the licence through the summer of 2016.
Later, “Pobeda” low-cost airline invited me for an interview, which I passed on the first attempt.
And then, things took a turn for the worse when the low-cost company denied me a job by telling me that Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) recommended to abstain from providing employment to Chelyabinsk School graduates, as their pilot certificates were to be invalidated soon. Indeed, in July 2017, many of us pilots, myself included, had our pilot certificates canceled. Why did that happen? It’s a long story!
I gathered a group of pilots to bring a collective action against Rosaviatsiya, but we lost the lawsuit. We appealed against the court decision – only to fail again. I had believed in the law that had always been a criterion for justice to me; now, with all the things I have been through, I see Russian courts of law as a mockery of justice.
Seeing as courts of law in Russia are a complete mess, my fellow pilots and I moved to the neighboring Belarus, took a retraining course there, and obtained a civil aviation certificate to be employed with commercial aviation, while making a video of the whole of our training. Guess what? After a while, Byelorussian authorities denied us extension of our otherwise legitimately obtained documents under a pretext that Belarus did not want trouble with Russians. I will add more detail below. We were not wanted, and my Byelorussian pilot certificate turned into a worthless slip of paper. I sought to convert my Byelorussian certificate into a limited pilot certificate for the US, only to find out it was impossible.
Before court hearings were underway, my wife and I had made a resolution to leave Russia if we would lose the lawsuit. It would be no point staying in a country where there is no justice, and it was against my principles to surrender. Our country did not need us, and sought to get rid of us by taking away our right to get an employment, as if we were a waste material. We thought we would be wanted in another country. After all, I had two sought-out-for professions. We gathered documents and moved to Israel in 2018.
After moving, I went to the USA for four months to study at a private flight school from scratch and have already obtained a private pilot certificate and all written tests to obtain an IFR-rated commercial pilot level.
But the coronavirus pandemic happened... Immediately after borders were opened, I hurried to continue my studies and now I also have a commercial pilot license with single-engine aircraft and instrument ratings!
So my new story begins – I have one more exam to pass, which including both oral and practical tasks, to be followed by conversion into a national pilot certificate for the State of Israel! I will tell about all my adventures in this blog, and I hope that my experience in becoming a pilot will be of use to you!
Nice to meet you all!
Regards, Pavel Semchenko.