To have a flourishing career in aviation was not an easy start for a 27-year-old, David Abesamis de Koenigswarter. David first earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Communication at De La Salle University in Manila. While others smoothly made it to the runway of their dreams after finishing a degree, his parents, who were opposed to the idea of him becoming a pilot, was the first hurdle he had to face.
The BratPack band member fondly shared how his trips in his toddler days fueled his desire to navigate an aircraft. All his life he wanted to be a pilot. He was destined to fly! Years after, David finally persuaded his parents; thus the start of his aviation story in March 2015. In September 2016, he already acquired his Commercial Pilot License with Instrument Rating.
Read on to know more about First Officer David Abesamis de Koenigswarter, and learn some helpful tips on how to land the aviation job that you desire. As Walter Raleigh once said, “The engine is the heart of an airplane, but the pilot is its soul.” Truly, David is a soul with towering ardor and boundless dedication, who loves every inch of his pilot journey.
What’s your earliest memory of aircraft or being a pilot?
My parents used to travel with me a lot, mainly to Palawan visiting El Nido and a couple of other resorts back when I was a toddler. My first overseas flight was to Europe, to visit my grandfather, then frequented the west coast of the USA where majority of my mom’s' family migrated to. I was around planes a lot as a child which only helped build my curiosity, aside from the fact that both my paternal grandparents were private pilots.
***What is The Brat Pack? Genre of your music.
The Brat Pack is a band I formed with RJ Pineda, a friend from primary school. We started out as an acoustic jazz trio, but eventually found our way into blues and Rock N' Roll. We were lucky to have won the 2nd Philippine Blues Competition, with the prize being sent to Memphis, TN, USA to represent the Philippines at the International Blues Challenge, the biggest blues competition in the world. To our shock and delight, we became the first Asian band to make it to the finals (top, two years in a row). So that added to my travel/airplane bug as we did two trips to the USA within a year, flying to Switzerland for a musical festival shortly after, and frequent regular gigs in Macau in between. After finally being given the chance to pursue my flying dreams, the gigs had to slow down, and now I am lucky to still be able to perform at the Shangri-La at the Fort every week (as long as I am on day off).
Any other hobbies aside from music?
Aside from music, I like to engage in sports such as tennis, football and basketball to try and keep myself in shape plus the bi-weekly gym session. I enjoy editing videos and eating out with my girlfriend when our schedules meet. On a regular day off though, I like to stay home most of the day to relax and bond with my two Labradors.
What’s the most challenging part of being a pilot?
In my opinion, the most challenging part about being a pilot on a daily basis is discipline of oneself. To many, the pilot life looks glamorous and happy-go-lucky, but in reality it involves a lot of sacrifice. We study regularly for the routes of the next days' flights, keep up to speed with our emergency procedures, make sure to be well rested (both mind and body) for your flights, and once on-board the aircraft, live with the fact that you and your captain are responsible for the safety and comfort of all your passengers and crew.
*Please tell us more about your career shift. Was your first course your choice? *What made you decide to pursue Aviation after you finished a degree?
I wanted to become a pilot all my life, but my parents initially didn’t like the idea because they knew it required commitment. As a youngster, I loved doing many things at once, playing varsity tennis for DLSU, performing regularly with my band, etc., and they thought that I wouldn’t be whole-hearted with this career. It was only after years of begging that they saw my sincerity and drive to pursue this dream. I was always nagging them and really did my best to convince them that this was the career for me. With the help of some family members in the aviation industry, luck was on my side.
How do you juggle things, both music and your Aviation career?
I am very lucky to be flying for an airline like Air Asia; the culture is very just and creative. What I love most about working here is that they promote employee morale and happiness by giving you the time and opportunity to do things you love. I’ll never forget during our pilot orientation, our chief of flight operations, Capt. Darren Acorda told me that he didn’t want me to stop my music. This really got me, a company that I was willing to give up all my free time for is now telling me to not stop doing what I love (on off days of course). This has actually driven me to become more responsible with my time. I get to perform when I have days off, but I still make sure to give AirAsia what they deserve in me studying up, reviewing my SOPs and procedures and keeping myself as well rested as possible, even volunteering to fly on my day offs, because I absolutely love what I do, and have great respect for the company who has given me their trust and opportunity to do so.
Tell us more about your training in flying school, and what pieces of advice can you give to individuals who also want to pursue their dreams in this field?
I made a great career-defining decision in taking up my flying at Airworks Aviation Academy. Being a resident of Manila, moving to Cebu was making me a little anxious, but I chose this school because of its peerless reputation, renowned Instrument Rating (IR) program, world-class facilities/ instructors, and the fact that you are trained in an International Airport (Mactan), flying with major local/foreign airlines, being around Airbus' and Boeing aircraft; as a student pilot, this was simply amazing. It did leaps and bounds for me on practicing my radio phraseology aside from being able to fly to all major and minor airports in Visayas and Mindanao. Training in airports that have regular airline traffic, during day and night, made a huge difference in my preparation for joining the airline.
What do you think is the most important quality that a pilot needs to have?
The most important quality to have to make it to the airline is the right attitude. As many of my mentors and Captains have told me, you can be the best pilot in the world, but skills can be taught. More important, being an airline pilot is about discipline, camaraderie and respect. In AirAsia, no one tried to become a "super pilot", rather everyone is there to help one another, seniors giving us juniors tips, techniques and most importantly friendship and encouragement. Put all of this together, and you have the Best Low Cost Airline in the world for 9 years running.
Please tell us how you landed the position that you currently have.
First, you have to do the minimum technical requirements, so finish your CPL/IR, obtain your A320 type rating, and build as much time as you can, wherever, however, whenever. I built some time flying in the general aviation sector which helped with my experience and is always good to have on paper. Next, keep applying and go to all interviews you can get. Aviation is highly competitive and no two pilots’ story will ever be the same. Just work hard, study up, and sooner or later, a door will open, just keep dreaming!
Follow @david_dek on Instagram to see more on his aviation life