Hello, I am Ashley Gibbs - Pilot, Manager, Diver



I suppose you might say I have had a full life, even in these few years.

I was born on St Georges Day, 23 April, on Shakespeare’s 400th birthday, in Warnford Hospital, Royal Leamington Spa, England. Christened in the Parish Church, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.

The first six years of my life were spent in Finham, Coventry, England and I received my first education at ‘Miss Kenderdine’s’ in Earsldon and entered Infant school at Finham Infant School.

I then moved with my parents at the age of six to Harpenden in Hertfordshire, where I finished my Infant education and carried on through to Junior education at the Grove School in Southdown, Harpenden.

When the time came, I went to Verulam School, St. Albans for my secondary education; I finished my national education with the usual blend of science and arts qualifications. During this time I had stayed with a French and German Family, formed a life long friendship with Niki Slavik in Austria as well as sung several times in St Albans Cathedral.

Once I left the British school system, I went to work in the local Fine Fare Supermarket where I achieved the heady heights of Assistant Manager, managing all the stock and spending about £4 million a year at the tender age of 21.

After the sale of Fine Fare, I left Supermarkets.

I arrived in Hotels by accident. I thought I would work as a rep but when I saw a job advertised for a barman, 5 day week – split shifts, I thought it would be a local pub job whilst I looked for ‘real work’. I was offered the job as Hotel Barman in the Harpenden Moat House Hotel, the best Hotel in Hertfordshire at the time. After a trial period of 3 months I became a trainee manager, entering Westminster College, London as a Student.

I left the hotel at the level of Assistant Manager and after successfully completing the HCIMA - Hotel & Catering International Management Association (now Institute of Hospitality) initial course I went to Brighton, a Sussex University Course, to complete my HCIMA education, finishing with a BSc Hons equivalent as well as Institute of wine and Institute of Environmental Health Officers qualifications. My training, work and college, took me to the level of Chef de Partie, Restaurant Manager, Cocktail Bar Manager, Housekeeper, Front of House Manager, Back of House Manager and Finance Manager.

Once qualified in Hotel Management, I went to Leek Wooton in Warwickshire to profitably close a Country Club for a developer.

I then went to the Sandford Country House Hotel, Wormit, Fife as Executive Manager helping partners to develop the hotel, business & quality.


Sandford Country House Hotel, Wormit, Fife


Faisaliyah Tower, Riyadh, at Sunset

After 3 years I returned to England to find more opportunities, and worked in Jersey, Channel Islands, for a few months as a Food & Beverage Manager, moving on to Cheddar Gorge, Somerset as a General Manager for the receivers of a hotel.
I left Cheddar Gorge to go and Work in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for Sodexo.

I was employed initially as a Project Manager, to save the Philips & LM Ericsson Contract, later given 4 locations and eventually being promoted to Operations Manager, managing 13 Western Contracts worth over £2million a year. My clients included Kawasaki Helicopter, UK Ministry of defence, Saudi ARAMCO, ExxonMobil, L.M. Ericsson, Philips and IKEA.

During this time I learnt how to dive and became a British Sub-Aqua Club ‘Club Instructor’ & Dive Leader, Chairman of the ‘Saudi Sand Sharks’ Club and I was also a warden for the British Embassy.

I started my flying whilst based in Saudi Arabia.

I wanted to learn how to fly but was not sure where to go, I sent faxes to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, America, France, UK, Channel Islands and other locations. After receiving responses from a few (25 – 30 schools) I created a matrix to help me with my decision. I decided upon Jersey for my PPL training, it was not the cheapest quoted but had the best added value and overall value for money.
Apart from the PPL course Jersey offered regular flying over water, many private pilots are afraid of flying over the sea, but if trained over it you learn to respect it but do not fear it.
Jersey also offers training in a busy commercial environment, your radio work and decision making skills are honed into being far more quick and precise.
Another factor is the geographical location; all of the cross country flying you do is in France! In the PPL ground school you are told how to fill out a flight plan but often never use it, in Jersey you always use flight plans, filing a Flight Plan becomes second nature.
You are trained in international procedures covering, immigration, customs and Special Branch because you have to leave the States of Jersey & enter France each time you do a cross country flight; you don’t do this when you fly in America or the middle of England.
Finally, Jersey always has relatively strong winds due to its location, you train in conditions that allow you to perfect more tricky landings and nearly always there is a crosswind component in your landing.

I am still a member of the Jersey Aero Club and obtained my IMC, Night and Multi Engine ratings there.

I departed from Riyadh in 2002 when business rapidly reduced due to George Bush & Tony Blair announcing their intention to attack Iraq. I took this opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a Professional Pilot.

Later in 2002 I went to live in South Africa for 7 months to do the Atlantic Flight Training ATPL Ground-School Course, I and the other members of the group were under the impression we could sit the exams in South Africa, however, we could not, so in 2003 I sat the 14 written exams in the UK.

Once I had completed my written exams I enrolled with Atlantic Flight Training to do the Commercial Pilot’s Licence, Multi Engine Instrument Rating & Multi Crew
Co-operation Courses. I completed the flying training in 2004 and partly paid for my MCC by selling technical photographs for their ground school published notes, many are visible in the Jeppesen ATPL notes.

Whilst waiting for that elusive break into the airline industry I have returned to work with Sodexo, this time in Indonesia.
I am the Area Operations manager for Kalimantan (Borneo), managing contracts for Transocean, Seadrill, Global Tender Barges & Mermaid Drilling.


Jersey, Channel Islands, from the Space Station




Jersey Aero Club Fleet