Dragonair welcomed 15 new pilots last month. For five of them, graduation from the airline's cadet pilot program was the culmination of dreams formed at a young age.
Each year, Dragonair receives 700 to 1,000 applications for its pilot training program, but only three batches of 12 are chosen, with fewer than half graduating.
One of those whose dreams came true is Oscar Wan Chi-yiu, 27.
"I grew up watching planes landing at Kai Tak Airport, so from the age of five, I was determined to become a pilot," he said.
Wan applied to both Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair in 2006 but was rejected.
Instead he decided to work as an engineer in a clean energy company for five years before making a second attempt.
During that time, he took part in activities and courses related to aviation and hand-eye coordination. "I never gave up on my dream of wanting to be a pilot," Wan said.
His childhood aspirations were shared by Dennis Law Ding-shan, who also developed an intense interest in aviation at a young age.
Like Wan, he too failed on his first attempt, but managed to get in on a second try.
"My parents have been very supportive, [calling out] `our son is a pilot' at the graduation ceremony," Law said.
Asked what it takes to be part of the cadet pilot program, all five dreamers chanted in unison one word - "passion."
"It takes a lot of persistence to develop a career in aviation, and knowledge in the subject, developed from passion, definitely gives you an edge," said graduating pilot Kimberly Kwok Pui-ying.
She advised those interested in the job to assess their strengths and weaknesses, and said women applicants in particular should exercise more to be physically fit for the job.
There are 11 women among Dragonair's 421 pilots.
"We have no preference for gender as long as they are capable," said crew resources manager Doris Au Nim-ying. "But I did notice more women are applying for the program now."
The training program was launched in 1986. Those interested may apply online, and would go through written and aptitude tests, two rounds of interviews and flight grading in Australia.
The job requires good eyesight and physical strength, as well as a good command of English.
Successful applicants will be sent to Adelaide and Zhuhai for ground and flight training for 60 weeks. Once completed, they should have about 210 hours of flying experience, Au said.