From pilot to paleta to global spotlight

Patrick was not expecting the more than 15 million views of his post when he took to LinkedIn to share his story. 

“I was just trying to make a living. I read a story about another pilot who started driving for Tesco during the pandemic and I wanted to share my own experience of working construction and delivering for Amazon to show that we are all carrying on while we are not able to fly,” says Patrick as AeroTime caught up with him at his home in Spain.

Patrick Pawelczak, First Officer, Boeing 737

Patrick was working for Slovakian airline, Go2Sky, when the pandemic hit. He was on assignment in Turkey as aircraft were being prepared to fly back to base as the global aviation industry started to grind to a halt. His wife and young daughter were in Spain struggling to buy some essentials like diapers and milk, and he knew he had to get back to them as quickly as possible. Six flights later, Patrick made it back to Barcelona, delighted to be reunited with his family, but increasingly worried about what the future might hold.

“I was so relieved to be home. I had spent so much time away and most of the time spoke to my daughter on facetime. Maybe this was meant to be and I am meant to be here with my family during this time, supporting my wife and being there as my daughter grows. I believe that everything happens for a reason so, although this is a tough time, maybe this was meant to be.”

Patrick is very open about the struggles of the last year. There is no doubt that it has been tough and at times this has really taken its toll. “When you’re stressed and worried, even the little things suddenly become big things and you find yourself arguing about anything. I found myself just sitting at home watching the TV and I just couldn’t move; like so many people, I didn’t know what to do.”

pilot patrick with his family

Patrick with his family

It’s a story that so many of us can relate to and an experience far too many of us have had in recent months. Patrick is not alone.

But he is a family man. He is clearly devoted to his wife and young daughter and he knew that he had to get up and find a job. He has been working on construction sites and delivering for Amazon ever since. “It’s obviously a very different job, but I pick things up quickly. I’ve never worked construction in my life, but I’m doing it and it’s going well. I will keep doing whatever I need to do until I can start flying again and I am already looking forward to that day.”

Patrick gained his (commercial) wings in 2016 and stayed working at his flying school, becoming the chief ground instructor, before going on to amass 1300 flying hours on the 737 with Go2Sky. But flying wasn’t always in Patrick’s blood. He stumbled into it becoming cabin crew and falling in love with flying – and meeting his future wife as he trained. Always wanting to be in the cockpit to listen to the pre-flight checks, he realised he wanted to fly and started studying for his PPL and then the CPL. He has gained a number of ratings and enjoyed his time as an instructor.

Patick’s famous post on LinkedIn.

Like many people, Patrick has turned the challenges of the last year into a positive opportunity. Although he readily admits that “…we have good days and we have bad days…”, he has been overwhelmed by the response to his recent post on LinkedIn and has unwittingly and deservedly become an online celebrity with plaudits arriving from around the world. He has also been interviewed by countless media outlets around the world, but has now decided to “put the brakes on” the interviews for a while. “It was just overwhelming” Patrick tells me, “and I agreed with my wife that we would stop for a while as I had to get back to work!”

He has been trying hard to keep up with the messages and reply to as many as possible. Some are from other pilots who have reached out to him for help and advice themselves – and he genuinely wants to help. As we speak, it’s clear that Patrick has a lot on his mind and he clearly feels a responsibility to help others in our aviation family. There are so many messages like the below example where Patrick’s genuine passion and authenticity really shines through and where he attempts yet again to send the positivity that we all need to focus on as we tackle 2021.

There are tons of aviation and non-aviation professionals that have been hit very hard and had to take drastic steps. And this post goes out to all of them – don’t give up. Adapt. Fight. APPRECIATE.

AeroTime salutes Patrick. His efforts have been widely recognised and his impact far-reaching.

We are delighted to publish his Covid story and we hope that it will inspire others to share theirs.

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