Stuart McLaren – Instructor

I started my career as a police officer in Strathclyde, Scotland from 1979-99, during which time I was promoted to Inspector and operated in many specialisms including Drug Squad, Firearms, Air Support Unit, Hostage Negotiator, CID and Traffic Division, predominantly on the “mean streets” of the East End of Glasgow.

I had always been interested in aviation, and in 2000, having completed a self-funded frozen ATPL and 200 hours of Private Pilot Licence flying, I joined Tayside Aviation to train as a Flying Instructor and crossed paths with CFS Exam Wing, who recommended a career path within JEFTS at RAF Church Fenton.

I commenced Military QFI training and 24 months later graduated as an A2 QFI (Civilian), having progressed through B2 and B1 in regulation minimum time. I was then employed as a Civilian QFI by Babcock.

I have been honoured to compete in triathlon at World and European Championship level, representing RAF Triathlon since 2010 and still competing.

What attracted you to work at Ascent?

When UKMFTS was announced in 2008, I was very keen to be considered to fly the then brand new Grob 12TP Turboprop aircraft, with vastly increased performance, avionics and operating envelope.

Moving from a Babcock QFI to an Ascent QFI at RAF Cranwell proved to be a seamless transition, with many of my former colleagues – not only aircrew but engineers, air traffic and support staff – making the transition.

Ascent provides world class flying training provision, with cutting-edge technology, brand new facilities and fabulous new aircraft to fly, along with high tech simulator facilities.

I am responsible for instructing trainees across all three military services, and have taught Elementary Flying, Multi-Engine Lead-In, formation and aerobatics, to those demonstrating Fast Jet potential. I regained my previous Instructional Category of B1 which allows unlimited instruction across the syllabi.

I am also one of Ascent’s trained mental health first aiders on the Squadron.

What do you enjoy most about working at Ascent?

The camaraderie within the workforce is very reminiscent of that I had enjoyed within the police service, and it is extremely rewarding to be considered an equal to my full-time military colleagues and squadron bosses.

I feel incredibly well supported by my line manager and Chief Pilot, and I have full confidence in senior management, both locally at RAF Cranwell and at head office in Bristol.

It is also really rewarding to see some of my former trainee pilots from the 2000s now on the Squadron as Squadron Leaders and Flight Lieutenants.

What are the benefits of working at Ascent?

Following a recent medical downgrade, which has prevented me from being an airborne flying instructor, I have been fully supported by Ascent senior and local management in being re-deployed as a full-time simulator instructor.

Another tremendous benefit of working for Ascent has been the opportunity to access flexible working to greatly enhance my personal work-life balance.