Martin Lloyd – JAA Chief Flying Instructor – Head of Disabled Flight Training, Anglo American Training, USA
May 2007 was when I first contacted Martin in San Diego. I was looking for a flight training facility that could offer a commercial service for pilots with a disability. The reply I received was “I think that our School is just what you are looking for” – Indeed they were and I was 1 plane ticket away from going to San Diego. Other opportunities opened up for me and I trained for my pilots licence in the UK. I found Martin to be incredibly helpful and we kept in touch.Although I have yet to meet Martin face to face, I feel we have many things in common. A holiday to San Diego I shall plan so that i can fly at his school and get some lesson from this master.
Who or What influenced you to become a pilot?
Martin Lloyd: When I was just six years old, my aunt gave me an Airfix kit of a Spitfire for Christmas. From that moment I was hooked and my life goal was to fly.
What is your current work and role in Aviation?
Martin Lloyd: I am a PPL(A) Flight & Radio Examiner for the CAA, even though I work in California. I am the Head of Handicapped Flight Training at one of the few JAA-approved flying schools in America. As far as I am aware, I am the first CAA handicapped Flying Instructor and Examiner in Europe.
Do you fly for fun or just for work these days?
Martin Lloyd: I have attained an FAA private helicopter licence and that is my ‘fun’ flying nowadays. I think that I am the first whole-leg amputee to get such a licence. In addition, I do take an aeroplane every now and again to keep my fixed-wing flying skills up to scratch.
How did you get involved with training people with disabilities in America?
Martin Lloyd: When I came here and qualified as an FAA flight instructor, it was a natural progression.
Have you always been a flying instructor. How many flying hours did you have before getting your CPL or ATPL licence status.
Martin Lloyd: I gained my CPL with the minimum of 250hrs, but by then had well over 2,100hrs as flight crew in the Royal Air Force. I flew for 750hrs with a British Airways franchise before my motorcycle crash and since then have qualified as a CAA Flying Instructor and subsequently an Examiner. I have been instructing for 7 years and flying for 28.
In your long experience as an aviator, is America more accommodating for pilots with a disability then UK? You work for Anglo American Aviation, how important is it that the commercial sector and aviation industry support people with a disability?
Martin Lloyd: The European mentality seems to be slanted against those with a handicap whereas in America the ‘Can Do’ mentality that built the country in the first place, pervades all walks of life and makes things much easier. It is very important that industry – not just aviation – supports the disabled, as we have so much to offer the world despite what has happened to us.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Martin Lloyd: Staying alive after an horrific motorcycle crash that left me without my right leg and with a paralyzed right arm. It was the first of many uphill struggles that I have had to climb.
How realistic do you think it is for disabled people like myself to have a career in aviation in Europe as a pilot? Why do you think it will be a uphill struggle?
Martin Lloyd: The European mentality is geared against the handicapped on the ‘safety’ issue. This attitude is deeply entrenched and although laws exist to avoid discrimination, one cannot argue with ‘safety’, even though it may be an erroneous argument. We have to be realistic and although an Airline could employ a handicapped pilot and he or she would be perfectly safe, passengers do not pay their air fare with the thought that there might be a ‘damaged’ pilot up front. Many pounds are spent surveying passengers to see what the expect from the flight deck and handicaps do not feature. Teaching and examining are just as important – and maybe more so – roles in aviation as flying people around for example.
I was just 1 plane ticket away from training with you in San Diego. I am happy to tell you that I have now qualified as a PPL pilot. What advice can you give me to reach out to others like us to promote flying for disabled people.
Martin Lloyd: I take my hat off to you because I only had to requalify as a pilot after my crash, whereas you have made it right from scratch. My advice? Just live your life and your example will show people more than fancy words.
I believe that determination is an essential part of learning to fly aeroplanes. Please could you tell us about the hurdles that you had to overcome since your Royal Air Force days to get into your current professional position. You see, I am inspired and motivated by knowing people like yourself. I hope to follow in your footsteps to one day becoming a Flight Instructor and share the knowledge of flying with others.
Learning to fly with one leg and a severely damaged arm.
Coping with getting the wheelchair in and out of aircraft.
Getting up into helicopters
Keeping my brain active!
Before I commenced my PPL training, I had a medical class 2 issued, my flying instructors felt that I was ready to go solo and so did the chief flying instructor at Cranfield, BUT, before I was allowed to go solo, I had to have a medical flight test by a Flight Instructor examiner to verify that I can use the approved hand control to operate the plane safely on the ground and in the air, I cannot understand why? This incurs more costs for those with a disability. An able bodied person does not have to go through this test. Do you think it is fair that disabled people have to have the medical flight test before they can fly solo?
Martin Lloyd: Don’t forget that the Authority has to be seen to check your ability and they will have to give you permission to fly, so it is partly done for litigation purposes. If you crash on a solo flight and have not been checked out by the medicos, your family would sue the CAA for everything it has. It is true that an able-bodied pilot does not have to have this check, but you are using a controller that is different from the norm and your profficiency must be correctly assessed. I don’t use a hand-controller and I had to have a CAA medical flight check and an FAA statement of demonstrated ability – so two!
Have you ever felt lost during any routes?
Martin Lloyd: As an ex-Royal Air Force Tornado navigator? Of course not!
What do you like the most about being a pilot and why?
Martin Lloyd: The sense of freedom when airborne and the ability to take the uninitiated up to show them my world.
Do you fly with hand controls?
Martin Lloyd: No. In the helicopter I have a dog muzzle that I use to strap my one foot to the left anti-torque pedal.
What difference are there if any when teaching someone with a disability and someone who is able bodied?
Martin Lloyd: The disabled are more determined!
Have you ever experienced strange reactions by any students when they first meet and see you?
Martin Lloyd: Only once. I said to this person ‘Shall we go, are you fit’ and he said ‘Well I am…are you?’ And he was serious too, which was the one and only time. You have to be cool. calm, collected and above all professional.
I am a new pilot and I shall be experiencing the exhilaration of flying as much as possible. What is your top tip for any pilot regardless of experience?
Martin Lloyd: Listen and learn from the mistakes of others. Read incident and accident reports and know your limitations.
What is your favourite aeroplane to fly?
Martin Lloyd: A helicopter.
Do you think there is room for growth in the UK for pilot training for people with disability beyond just having flying experience?
Martin Lloyd: Yes, but many disabled people are on a very limited budget and flying in Europe is prohibitably expensive, which will limit the growth opportunities.
What are the main differences between the UK and US airspace?
Martin Lloyd: The airspace classes are the same, although they use different types in different places, but the attitude of pilots and controllers is more lax