My name is Amanda Harrison and I guess you landed here because you want to learn about flying and how I can inspire you.
I wrote this little bio for more than one reason. Firstly, I wanted to document my journey from failure to success for my own sake, because it's easy to forget sometimes where you started, how far you've come and just focus on all the things you still want to achieve...
Me and my beautiful Tiger
So to help you get to know me, let me share a little about myself. This is not a trumpet blowing session, just what you'd learn about me if we sat down to have a coffee and a chat.
Only a few short years ago, I left school at 15 with no really useful qualifications and wondered how on earth I was going to be a pilot one day. I had my first flight at the age of 14 and had fallen in love with flying.
Love at first sight! My first flight at the age of 14
People always wonder why I wanted to fly, well my dad always wanted to fly and never had the opportunity. He always built remote control model aeroplanes. So to me it was the most natural thing to get involved with aviation.
My dad's model, The Waterbird, the first float plane to fly in the UK in 1911
So with my dream settled, I then had to get a job, learn to drive and save up for my private pilot's licence. Scrimping and saving were the order of the day. My first car was a clue that I was always going to love three wheeled transport!
I have heard all the jokes and yes, you really do stop them bu putting your feet through the floor to brake! Someone once broke in to steal the radio and left it because it was so rubbish. It was a great car though and really trained me how to drive.
My first car, the Plastic Rocket!
Taking to the skies...
Many, many, many jobs (including chamber maiding) and studying later, I got my degree! BA Hons. And started to take flying lessons. Never believed i could be a commercial pilot and got my private pilot's licence just as 9/11 happened. That was a turning point in aviation.
So back to the drawing board as there were no jobs in aviation. I thought, 'ok, I'll just have to enjoy my flying'. I started to Air Race, what fantastic fun!
Raced in authentic 1930s dress with Chris Packham alongside filming for the BBC Inside Out show
Then came the 75th Schneider Trophy Air Race. I came 1st in the Women's Race and 26th overall which out of 50 for my first race was good! It was while racing that I had the wonderful chance to have my first flight in a Tiger Moth. WOW, I had fallen deeply in love with this aeroplane and wanted to fly it professionally some day. And here I was having the chance to finally fly one. You have to ask, you never know when someone might say YES. Air racing also fed my adventurous spirit.
Next up was Dawn to Dusk - a competition for the most Enterprising Aviation you can fit into one day from the hours of dawn to dusk. I have now competed twice and came third and fourth for two years running. I love this one as it is an international competition; one of the judges is the Duke of Edinburgh.
My first Dawn to Dusk, putting the all important sponsor stickers on the aeroplane.
Becoming a professional pilot
Finally the day came when I could start to train as a Commercial pilot. The dream was really coming true now! It was no small achievement to do my written exams part time while working. I got accepted into the holding pools for airlines, and then the recession hit.
All that training and then back to the drawing board!
Well, time to rebuild my life again! All through this, I had been learning to fly the Tiger Moth and tame the tiger! The airlines had stopped taking people on, but an unexpected phone call one day asked me if I would like to instruct and do pleasure flights, knowing i was a Tiger pilot and flight instructor. I said YES. So that is how I finally became a female commercial Tiger Moth pilot.
My next adventure
Of course it's not been all blue skies since then. In November 2017, I was diagnosed with cancer. After multiple major surgeries and treatment, I was finally given the all clear and back flying in Spring 2018.
Today I have more than 700 hours flying vintage aeroplanes and I can be seen regularly flying Tiger Moths across the UK. I've added to my achievements, becoming a 4 times UK Distance over Speed Record Holder. If you've learnt anything from my story, it's that I don't give up easily!
I want to inspire you, yes to fly would be wonderful, however if I just inspire you to be a better version of yourself, that would be amazing!
Truly, if I can do it, then so can you. Trust me...