Apprentice Ralph swaps cockpit for cab

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A former airline pilot has swapped the cockpit for the steering wheel after becoming an apprentice bus driver at the age of 65. Worthing-based Ralph Turtle is currently midway through his passenger transport bus driver level two apprenticeship, which is delivered by UK training provider Realise in partnership with Stagecoach, after enjoying a 30 year career as a pilot.

Having already completed the practical elements of his apprenticeship, Ralph has secured his Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence and is now transporting passengers on journeys around the south coast, including Worthing, Littlehampton and Brighton.
Ralph said that moving into the driving seat on buses has allowed him to continue his lifelong love affair with transport. Speaking as part of National Apprenticeship Week, he commented: “I love any mode of transport and meeting different people so driving buses is the perfect job for me. To some people, it may seem a little strange starting an apprenticeship and a new career at the age of 65 but I’ve always been someone who loves to learn around my job. The apprenticeship has been a really enjoyable experience and the team at Realise has been fantastic in delivering the different elements. There’s so much more to the apprenticeship than simply driving the bus, such as customer service, route planning and much more.”

After starting his career in the Navy, Ralph spent three decades as a pilot for Flybe before its collapse at the start of the pandemic. After a year working in Tesco, Ralph elected to return to transport by beginning his apprenticeship, which is due to finish in the summer.

“I loved my job as a pilot but I’m also getting a huge amount of satisfaction on the buses,” he added. There are similarities between the aeroplane and the bus because the main job with both is to get people safely from A to B.”

Ralph Turtle spent 30 years as an airline pilot before joining Stagecoach at the age of 65. STAGECOACH