A journey to the Captain’s seat: the story of Gregor Siljan

Avion Express

Being a pilot is a dream job of many. But it takes a lot of effort to reach the top. Gregor Siljan joined Avion Express as a First Officer at the end of 2016, and in February 2019 he was upgraded to a Captain. His fascinating success story proves that it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to get to the Captain’s seat.

Gregor has walked a long and thorny path to be where he is now. But how did it all start? “My father wanted to become a pilot,” starts Gregor. “Although his mother didn’t let him join the aviation academy, the passion for aviation stayed with him forever.” For as long as Gregor can remember, there were posters of airplanes on the walls and VHF cassettes “rolling aviation films 24/7” at his family home. Being brought up in such an aviation-inspired environment, it was natural that Gregor wanted to fly since the very first days. The seed that his father once planted bloomed into a beautiful passion, and there was never another option for Gregor but to become a pilot.

But his success didn’t come overnight. “When I finished all flight trainings, the world was facing the deepest financial depression. No flying jobs were available. I sent out about 200 applications to all continents, including Antarctica, only to receive 2 replies saying that I was not selected for further consideration,” shared Gregor. He was taking any opportunity to stay in the sky to keep a “good flying hand”, and as years were passing by, Gregor started to lose hope. “I was coming to terms with the fact that my dream will stay a dream. At one point, I was considering leaving aviation behind and moving to Africa where I used to work in an orphanage,” says Avion Express Captain. When Gregor was about to give up, an opportunity came his way. “Out of the blue a chance to get an A320 type rating and 500 flight hours package in Istanbul came by, it was my last chance to grab my dream and make it a reality,” says Gregor. It was a turning point in his career.

In 2016, Gregor’s fellow flight crew member, who had been happily flying with Avion Express, suggested Gregor joined the airline too. “I was actively looking for a job in the middle of the high season in Europe. Initially, I was meant to stay with Avion Express until the end of the season, but when the news regarding the upcoming project in Cambodia came up, I was hooked. And I’m glad I stayed. A wide variety of different operations around the world that Avion Express offers is quite a unique chance when flying a mid-range A320,” says Gregor.

What seems to have started as a lucky coincidence, grew into a successful path that keeps unfolding. Gregor joined Avion Express with 1150 flight hours on Airbus A320 under his belt, but his motivation and hard work couldn’t go unnoticed. Gregor showed his seniority and loyalty to the company and received great feedback from the instructors. So in February 2019, when Gregor reached 3000 flight hours, he was upgraded from a First Officer to a Captain. “My career change at Avion Express brings a whole new set of challenges, but I’m happy to face them and continue growing as a professional. The company is growing and becoming a better version of itself every day. The rostering system has improved, a paperless cockpit was introduced, and of course the growing fleet and new projects! I am happy to be a part of it.”

Gregor is a great example of how far determination can lead you. Ambition, hard work, a pinch of luck, and good timing is a key formula of success. What does Gregor think about his journey? “It’s all about the fire in your heart. I always knew what I wanted. I had a target to reach and I always stayed focused on it,” he adds. Gregor’s put a lot of effort and tenacity into his goal, and what he got is very rewarding. Together with the dream job that Gregor set his mind on in his early years, he joined a team of inspiring people who are just as passionate about their job as he is. “The team members come from a long list of different countries, with stories of different backgrounds which keeps things even more interesting,” adds Gregor.

Now that he has taken the Captain’s seat, where does Gregor see himself in the future? “So far, my passion has brought me to places where I couldn’t imagine myself 5 years ago, so I don’t dare speculating too much about what the future holds. I am here and now, and it’s great.”

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