Meet The Pilot: Captain Richard Clarke

Captain Richard Clarke (pictured, left) recalls his route to becoming a pilot at Cathay Pacific

I have been with Cathay Pacific for 15 years. I had always wanted to fly since I was young. Every subject at school was focused on aviation, and I went on to study aeronautical engineering at university. I started flying at the age of 17 and got my private pilot’s licence in Florida and, after spending my student loan on flying hours while at university, I managed to get 150 hours. In my first year at university I got on to the Cathay Pacific cadet course. You have to take every opportunity, and as I grew up in Hong Kong and had always flown on Cathay, joining was an easy decision.

That course included a year in Australia, then to Hong Kong for the simulators and line training. I joined Cathay Pacific as a second officer then moved through the ranks on the Airbus fleet. I moved as a senior first officer to the Boeing 747 eight years ago and I got my command in 2014. With the retirement of the final passenger 747 in October 2016, we are now an all freighter fleet.

I was on the flight deck for the inaugural service to Portland. We were very lucky with the weather; clear blue skies and a light wind. It meant we got to see quite a bit of Portland as we came around. Air traffic control and the ground services were fantastic – as was the welcome when we parked up.