Whilst the French National School of Civil Aviation (ENAC) is a world reference in the field of aviation training, in part it owes much to the quality of its teachers, and Damien Vadon, a 36 year-old pilot with an unusual background is one of them. Having taken up flying in his adolescence, at 17 he became the youngest pilot in France, and then a commercial pilot before returning to his first love, that of instructing. For the last three years he has been an instructor at ENAC.
"Instructing is about getting a message through, teaching people things, and a little like a bricklayer who builds a wall - every day there is progress. On initial training courses we see people coming here who have never touched a ‘plane, and after three or four weeks go solo, it's great."
And to train future private pilots, commercial pilots, air traffic controllers, as well as flight instructors, Damien Vadon had to pass ENAC’s instructor’s exam, and what helped him? Precision flying. Since 25 July, this year, he has been the world precision flying champion. A first for a French national. "There are tests of landing, and of course navigation without the aid of GPS, or radio assistance. It’s an activity that can help you to progress enormously in the ability to manage a heavy workload, whether it be in navigation or precision landing, and you can attain levels of accuracy that are nothing like those required on a normal flight."
Damien Vadon will defend his title in two years’ time. Until then, he will continue instructing scores of student pilots, and as many instructors in the teaching aspects of the discipline at ENAC’s centre in Muret (near Toulouse, south western France). They will be in good hands.