A STUDENT pilot has managed to raise more than £60,000 to get back into flight school after his course funding was cut due to coronavirus.
Rasheed Graham, from Kensal Rise, North West London had his lifelong hopes of becoming a pilot dashed earlier this year when his training was cancelled.
The 23-year-old was the first black student to be awarded a place on the Aer Lingus Future Pilot Programme before the course was cut.
However, Rasheed didn’t give up and managed to raise the sums needed to continue his training independently by establishing a GoFundMe.
In just a few weeks, the ambitious student had smashed his £44,000 target, months ahead of the January 2021 deadline.
Speaking today Rasheed said: “ I feel over the moon because although the campaign had a good star it peaked really early so I was really worried about whether I’d reach my target, but it has all come together full circle so I can’t complain at all, I am just grateful.
“I’ll be going back to training in Spain and completing the rest of course but putting the course aside I think I have really found my purpose trying to inspire young people to actually pursue what they want to do now.
“I never thought I’d be in the position. I had to really persevere and put myself out there to start this campaign.
“I’ve got messages from other student pilots saying thank you because I had the confidence to put myself out there and to acknowledge how one sided the industry is, it was something that needed some light on it.
“It is dominated, I have no problem with anyone who comes from wealth, but the industry is dominated by people who are able to pay for training costs up front and aren’t necessarily interested in the job but do it because they have got the money to do it.
“But there are people who are really passionate and really want to pursue a career as a pilot and just don’t have the means to do it.
“During this campaign I got a lot of messages from people saying I really want to be a pilot, but I just don’t have the means to do it.
“I am looking to turn Rash To Flight School into a social enterprise where I can mentor both those who want to get into flying, those who are already in the training system.”
Rasheed said his profile was boosted after appearing in a BBC Panorama documentary about the impact of Covid-19 on young people.
Rasheed added: “I got a lot of Tweets from people who were watching the documentary saying you just hit your target!
“I was on £40,000 when the documentary started and when I came on screen it jumped £10,000 in a minute.
“I didn’t think I would get to £60,000 this quickly. I was shocked more than anything it hadn’t really sunk in at the time, it only really sunk in yesterday.”
Rasheed said he has been phoned by the school and the course congratulating him on his achievement.
Rasheed’s journey to become a pilot began when he joined the Air Training Corps aged just 13 in 2010.
He has won various awards such as the Prince Phillip Pilot’s Licence scholarship in 2017.