He came all the way from Dubai to accomplish his childhood dream of becoming a pilot at OSM Aviation Academy in Sweden. He is enjoying every moment of his new journey and has already created some unforgettable memories. Let’s get to know Rami and hear his inspiring story on how it is to study abroad and the road towards becoming a pilot.
So, who is Rami?
Hi! My name is Rami Rifai, 23-year-old Lebanese American guy who calls Dubai his home. I was raised there until I moved away to Canada to work towards my university degree in 2014.
Some fun facts about me: I really enjoy cycling, kitesurfing, gaming, adventures, travelling, and I really like coffee (especially now haha)!
Halfway up Cypress mountain in Vancouver for a break and to enjoy the views
Before moving to Västerås, I went to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada to pursue a degree in Kinesiology with a focus on physiology. My parents recommended getting a bachelor’s degree before pursuing a career in aviation and looking back I think it was a great idea and a significant learning experience for me.
Kitesurfing in Ras al Hadd, Oman
The beginning of my dream…
I was about 5 years old when I got my first look into the amazing world of aviation. This introduction came in the form of a book called “The Big Book of Airplanes”. Since then, I was hooked!
The book that Rami mentioned above
Growing up in Dubai I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by Emirates airplanes constantly flying in and out of the airport close to the home I grew up in. There was something so magical about flying and I like to think that the childhood amazement and wonder is still with me today.
Finding OSM Aviation Academy
My very first introduction into OSMAA was thanks to an old Mentour Pilot video on YouTube where he talks about a school in Sweden! It was called Scandinavian Aviation Academy at that time. That’s when the research, visits, and many many many emails started.
6:00 AM morning rowing training with his school in Vancouver
I eventually committed to OSMAA since I wanted to step out of my comfort zone a little bit and experience a new culture, climate, language, and lifestyle. And today… I have absolutely no regrets 😊
Applying as an international student
It was a time-consuming process that required a lot of effort and attention. However, it was quite straightforward. It was almost all done online aside from one visit to the Swedish Embassy in Abu Dhabi. It required submitting written letters, proof of enrollment, proof of financials to be able to reside in Sweden and afford the tuition fees, but this is a pretty standard process for any country.
Rami together with his schoolmates Mariam, Harrison and Mustafa
Unfortunately, I was denied a visa on my first attempt… but after appealing things worked out just fine and I was able to start my journey in Sweden!
The start of a new journey
It was Thursday the 28th of February 2019, I was out cycling with a group for a special event where an ex-pro cyclist was present. We were about halfway through a 100 km ride when I got a call on my phone from Jennie. I connected the call to my earphones, so I didn’t have to stop cycling, and that’s when I found out that I had been accepted into the upcoming class in March!
Cycling up one of the local mountains in Vancouver on a beautiful winter morning
Since I didn’t have much time to apply for a visa and prepare to move on such short notice, I ultimately decided to postpone the start date until September which was a much better idea now that I look back at it.
I genuinely love exploring new places and meeting new people, and while Västerås may not be the biggest city, it still has a lot to offer!
- Flying planes
- Saffrans gifflar
- Beautiful scenery (we only have sand in Dubai)
- A new language to practice
- Amazing people
- And towing planes
- Sunsets at 2 PM during winter times
- and polar front depressions 😅
I really wasn’t sure what to expect before OSM Aviation Academy. I had only visited the flight school once for about 3 hours to attend the Pilot Open Day presentation and perform the Pilot Aptitude Test before flying back home to Dubai the day after.
Rami with his schoolmates Harrison and Mustafa
What I can say though is that it is a pleasure and a privilege to wear my uniform to school every day. The academy has very high standards for its students, and we really get challenged and tested on a daily basis to really make sure we have what it takes to succeed. I feel supported by the instructors and the other students which really makes the journey so much more enjoyable and rewarding. While I haven’t been here for very long, I look forward to the many challenges that lay ahead.
First solo flight
It really is difficult for me to put my feelings into words when it comes to that first solo. It is something I’ve dreamt of for as long as I can remember. That day everything happened really quickly. In order to fly your first solo, you need to complete a theoretical test with a minimum of 90% to pass. You get to answer around 45 questions. I completed it in the morning of the 13th of January. Less than half an hour later my head teacher (shout out to Alex Chibout) surprised me with the chance of flying my first solo about an hour later.
Rami after his first solo flight hugging his head teacher Alexander
When you fly and want to get released for your very first solo you have to first show an instructor (in my case it was a nice man called Oscar) that you basically know what you’re doing. If they think you’re up to standard then you will land the plane, have the instructor get out, and then you’re on your own for the very first time!
Rami's classmates throwing the traditional "first solo water buckets"
Right before closing the door, he said to me “good luck and have fun!”. The next 30 minutes were surreal.
This was the culmination of years of dreaming and hard work and that day my childhood dream came true.
I got to safely (I think) fly a plane on my own for the very first time and it is a memory I will cherish for a very long time! After that I got the traditional buckets of very cold water thrown on me, and then celebrated with some of the amazing students that were there to support me. Then, it was right back into an afternoon Meteorology lesson, after a quick change of clothes of course.
Biggest challenge with being a student pilot
I think the biggest challenge will be the upcoming CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) exams. I’m not sure what to expect but I can be sure to prepare as best as I can with the resources that the school provides for us.
Rami's class, First Officer Program 19-2
Advice to someone who wants to become a pilot
Even though I haven’t been here long enough for the most challenging parts of the program, I can say with certainty that it takes a lot of hard work and many hours of studying, practicing, and performing to succeed in this field.
The good news is that if you’re passionate and enjoy a good challenge, then it truly is a very enjoyable and rewarding journey. My dreams are coming true here and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Did you get inspired by my story and want to take the next step into becoming a commercial pilot? Then come and visit us at one of our Pilot Open Days and get all the information that you need! 😊