From education to employment


A former business student from North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) has achieved her dream of becoming an airline pilot and has completed her first journey for Wizzair as First Officer.

Lucy Cooper, from Barwell in Leicestershire had always nurtured a long-standing ambition to become a commercial airline pilot and successfully overcome significant hurdles to achieve her goal including putting her career on hold during the pandemic.

Lucy joined Wizzair last year and has now made her first flight as second in command supporting the captain on board an Airbus 320. She is based at London Luton Airport and flies with Wizzair to destinations all over Europe and the Middle East.

While she was grounded during lockdown, Lucy put the skills she learned in college to good use building a successful online knitwear brand. After qualifying in business studies at the college’s Nuneaton Campus, Lucy built the Woolaway Knitwear consumer brand offshoot of her father’s wholesale knitwear operation.

Lucy said, “I experience such a sense of freedom when I take to the air; any stress I might be feeling always melts away. From a career perspective, I knew that I would only be able to devote 40 hours a week to something I really enjoyed, so I realised that a career in aviation was the only one for me.

“My college qualification is important to me because airlines like to see evidence that candidates have the application and dedication to achieve well in academic studies. Pilots have to overcome a number of challenges as they work towards achieving their licence and I needed to demonstrate that I have got what it takes.”

As she gained her wings, Lucy flew solo all over the UK in a four-seat Piper Arrow Warrior aircraft landing at coastal destinations from Land’s End to Lydd and from Caernarfon to Newquay and even the Isles of Scilly. She then moved on to flying a twin-engine Duchess aircraft practising approaches and preparing for landings using instrumentation only at international airports around the UK including Birmingham and East Midlands Airports. After joining Wizzair in 2022, Lucy spent three months at ground school in a flight simulator before taking to the cockpit for the first time early in 2023.

“I am delighted to have achieved my dream of flying commercially and look forward to building up my experience with Wizzair on the journey to becoming a captain. I am grateful to the college for its support on my career journey. I had the best time when I was at NWSLC, and my tutors were so understanding of my workload when I was trying to study for my business course whilst also working towards my pilot’s licence. I believe that any achievement is within reach if you stay determined and put in the hard work.” 

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC said, “It is always gratifying to hear from former students who have achieved so well in their careers. Lucy faced significant challenges but remained focused and demonstrated huge resilience, using the skills she had learned at college to good effect. Congratulations to Lucy on this impressive career milestone and we will continue to watch her progress as she takes the next steps in her career.”

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