Phil Linscott - Letter to my 18 year old self

Philip Linscott, a pilot for British Airways

Philip Linscott, British Airways captain writes a letter to his younger self containing life advice and guidance on how to go about becoming an air pilot.


Dear Linny,

You’ve got a hell of a lot going on at the moment and I know you’re feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement. You don’t know me, not yet anyway, but I know you intimately.

In the next few weeks you’ll be getting on a train, heading for Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth and the beginning of your career as a helicopter pilot in the Royal Navy. You’re going to feel like not getting off that train when you reach your destination in deepest, darkest Devon. Fear of the unknown, accompanied by the unexpected and frenzied shouting of a Royal Navy Drill Chief standing on the dark platform, will make you feel very small and very alone.

In fact, those first few weeks at Dartmouth will feel like hell. You’ll wonder what you’re doing there. Being woken at 5am each morning and forced to march, run for miles or row on the freezing cold River Dart will test your resolve, as well as your rather suspect ability to wake up. You’ll spend hours ironing shirts so that they fit precisely into draws and polishing your shoes so they shine like mirrors, only to only to be told they’re “NOT GOOD ENOUGH”, and have them thrown across the cabin!

Stick with it and don’t let them beat you, they’re trying to get you to leave, it’s all part of their plan. It’s a game. Don’t fall for it. Once you work that out, it’ll get easier and you’ll start to enjoy the whole experience.

Flying training will be fun, but be careful. In a very short space of time your world will change; you’ll have freedom, money, good friends and a social life to die for, but don’t let it interfere with your work. The old adage work hard, play hard will become an integral part of your early life. The playing hard will be actively encouraged, but only accepted if you don’t allow your work to suffer. Oh…and when you visit fantastic parts of the world, please do try to see and experience something other than the inside of a bar!

When your time in the Navy comes to an end, you will feel lost. The support network and the camaraderie you’ve come to depend upon will no longer be there. However, don’t be tempted to use that as a reason to move in with the first girl you find vaguely attractive. Yes, that is what most other people are doing by this stage in their lives, but give it time. You’ll do much better to adjust to your new life on your own and save yourself a lot of agro.

While I’ve got you attention, let’s talk about your finances.  Through your life you will own various houses and flats. Please, don’t sell them. If you can, keep them and rent them out. Trust me, as difficult as it may seem, it will be worth it. I know that right now the thought of retirement and pensions seem a long way away, but can I recommend you start saving as soon as possible. The days of early retirements and final salary pensions will disappear and the sooner you get money into that retirement pot, the better.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Your new life is just about to begin. When you least expect it, you’ll meet someone who, even though you might not realise it at first, will become incredibly important to you. She is the one. It will take some time, but eventually she will make you realise what’s really important in life. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and eventually you’ll grow up.

You’ll build a life together and achieve something truly worthwhile: you’ll have a son. He will make everything else I’ve told you seem unimportant and quite honestly it is. Look forward to the day you meet him, but try not to joke about how purple he looks when he’s delivered! Make the most of this new direction and purpose in life and revel in the opportunity to be less grown up all over again.


Linny (Senior)