Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Project Manager takes up flying in the US at own expense ; May achieve dream of going to space

Foo Yong Lim, 30, a project manager working in the financial sector, had wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a child. However, he had always just failed to achieve his dream over the past 12 years. He never gave up and continued to strive, eventually getting his pilot's licence and even the opportunity to become the first Singaporean to reach the edge of space in a helium balloon.

Foo had undergone military flight training in National Service at the age of 18. Soaring through the blue skies was a thrilling experience for him but this only lasted for a few months. After that, he was not chosen to continue with training due to the strict selection criteria.

After he completed National Service, he was accepted by Imperial College London in Britain to study aeronautical engineering. However, it was costly to study overseas and Foo, who comes from a middle-class family, switched to take bioengineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

During his university days, he tried to join the Youth Flying Club but was unsuccessful, perhaps due to being too "old". In his second year of university, NTU introduced Singapore's first aerospace engineering degree programme. He had wanted to switch his major but considering that he needed to retake at least half a year of credit without any subsidies, he abandoned this opportunity to achieve his dream.
After graduation, he applied to become a civil aviation pilot in Singapore and Hong Kong. He did not get through the interview portion due to being too nervous and failed to get a work pass to work overseas.

Last year, he signed up for flying lessons in Malaysia and America, paying $25,000 out of his own pocket. After a year of training, he ultimately got his pilot's licence.

IN.Genius began recruiting Singaporeans who have flying qualifications to undergo training to be "astronauts" in March this year. Foo received his pilot's licence in April and immediately applied. He is now among the 30 shortlisted.

Though the screening process was challenging, Foo dealt with it confidently due to his previous setbacks.

Today, Foo is actively training himself physically, mentally and in flying, to prepare himself for the coming selection.

Zhao Zongfu, 50, managing director, who is Foo's supervisor at work and who also has a pilot's licence, said that Foo has his full support and the company provides him with flexible working hours.

He said: "We were course mates in the flying programme. He was the youngest and I was the oldest. He is hardworking and focused. I expect him to do his utmost to complete the training. "

Foo said that this opportunity has given him encouragement and he is looking forward to the forthcoming training.

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