Baltic Outlook introduces you to some of the most important people at airBaltic – its flight crew members, who have some of the most interesting hobbies.
Ever since Miko Aleksi Verno can remember, he has always been behind the camera lens, taking photos of his family and friends. ‘If I look at the photo albums from my childhood, I’m never in the pictures, because I was the one taking them,’ he laughs.
While regularly taking casual photos of his family, Miko’s hobby reached new heights at age 13, when his father bought him his first camera, a Canon 500D that he still uses today. Playing with the settings and exposures made Miko even more passionate about photography. Now his favourite things to photograph are planes and landscapes, especially mountains…and especially at twilight or in rainy weather. Worse weather conditions require more creativity and planning to get a marvellous picture.
Photography is a vast field, and there’s always something new to learn; nobody becomes a professional overnight. Miko admits he still has a lot to learn, too, especially in terms of once-in-a-lifetime situations. ‘I’ve spent around half a year trying to get the perfect photo of another airplane flying nearby in the clouds, and I have one photo that’s almost OK by my standards. But situations like these rarely result in a crisp picture,’ he says.
Miko had a similar struggle with capturing a SpaceX launch in the United States. ‘Immediately as the rocket launched, I realised it gave off much more light than I thought it would, turning the picture pure white,’ he laughs and hopes to see a space shuttle launch again some day.
How it all began
Both flying and photography have been a big part of Miko’s life since childhood. He and his grandparents shared a great passion for plane spotting and photographing at the airport. Back then, becoming part of the aviation industry himself seemed like an unreachable, far-away dream.
Miko was very interested in technical things and learning about how trains, planes, and other vehicles worked. When he was ten years old, his parents arranged for him to try out a flight simulator. That was a big turning point for him and sparked additional interest in flying. ‘But I don’t know exactly at what point I really fell in love with flying,’ he reveals.
After graduating from high school, Miko considered training to get a private pilot license. To get a foot in the door of the aviation industry, he found a stable job in ground handling at Helsinki Airport. But then the airBaltic Pilot Academy began accepting students from outside the Baltics.
In just two days’ time, Miko made the life-changing decision of moving to Riga, eventually completing the Pilot Academy programme and becoming the academy’s first Finnish graduate. While the pandemic temporarily affected his career, since January of this year, he has been a proud first officer at airBaltic.
While Miko admits that he loves everything about flying, including the picturesque views out the window, his favourite part of being a pilot is the flexible schedule: ‘I love the lifestyle, that I’m not working Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.’ Flying also emphasises two important characteristics Miko possesses: determination and also creativity. ‘There are no two identical flights, and no two identical pictures,’ he says. Both activities demand significant work and patience in order to reach excellence, and Miko is surely achieving it in both of his passions.
Words by Ilze Pole
Photo by Dmitrijs Suļžics (F64)