THE CHANCE to experience a bird’s-eye view of Blenheim Palace from the cockpit of a helicopter is just one reason Josh Spratt loves his job.
The 22-year-old from Bicester joined Airbus Helicopters, based at Oxford Airport near Kidlington, after finishing AS Levels five years ago.
Since then he has learned how to strip down and rebuild helicopters and often has the opportunity to be on board them during flight tests.
Mr Spratt’s love of aircraft started from a young age but he realised it could turn into a career when he was a teenager.
He said: “I was lucky enough to be given a behind-the-scenes tour of Airbus Helicopters when I was 14 and from that moment I knew what I wanted to do.”
Speaking out during National Apprenticeship Week, he urged other youngsters to think about applying for an apprenticeship.
He added: “As an aviation engineer you have to use your brain because you have to delve into the subjects like maths and physics.
“But it’s also incredibly hands-on and practical.”
Mr Spratt many of his friends had left university with debts of £50,000 to £60,000.
He said: “I feel very fortunate I don’t have that.
“One of my friends did engineering at university but it was very theoretical, so if you ask him to try and take something off he doesn’t know where to start.
“The apprenticeship scheme is good because it gives you the best of both worlds.”
Steve Pickston, UK head of support and services at Airbus Helicopters also started as an apprentice – in 1985.
Mr Pickston said: “The apprenticeship we run is all targeted to get our guys to become licensed helicopter engineers.
They learn to inspect, repair, strip-down to the bare bones and put it all back together again.”
Although apprentices normally join the firm after A-level, some come earlier and others as graduates.
On-the-job training is combined with sessions at Witney and Abingdon college.
Mr Pickston added: “We are looking for people who are really, really keen on aviation and can demonstrate that love through hobbies and other things they have done in the past.”