The Aviator

8 December 2015

Imagine being high up in the air. The skies all around you, clouds scattered afray amongst the perfect view of the sunset. You are in control. You are sky-high. Undefeatable. Every boy's dream.

Alexander Beck at IMG Models knows the feeling of reaching past the skies. Literally. He knows how to fly. Ambitious, yet grounded, in this Boys by Girls interview he shares his aviation stories and dreams, his love of the quiet countryside life and his forage into modelling.

Talking to the calm Alexander is a breath of fresh air. With a successful modelling career, his humble approach to life is refreshing. As we uncover more of Alexander's story, you might find yourself intrigued about the boy who lives a divided life - one where he graces the lens and one where the fields that cascade upwards from his windows are his very own land. You might discover something about Alexander you didn't know before.

Tell us more about who Alexander is?
I’m a Northern boy, but I grew up in Essex. I was a proper country bumpkin, and lived a mile and half away from the nearest shop. Everywhere you looked it was just fields and fields. So naturally there were a lot of bike rides and dog walks when I was younger. When I was 14 I started working for a fish and chips shop and that's where I first got scouted. He didn’t approach me at the time, but scouted me a year later outside a bookshop, and then I started modelling when I was 17.

What was it like growing up there?
It was the best. I mean, we had horses around, we had all sorts. We had like three farms near by, so we could go and see sheep and turkeys free range. Fresh turkeys for Christmas.

Instant Analogue by Sophie Mayanne. Special thanks to IMPOSSIBLE.

Can you ride a horse?
Yeah haha, I can canter, but I can’t gallop, it’s too much pressure on the old plums! Instead of horse-riding, I used to fly alot when I was younger. I've got half my pilot licence, I just need to do the rest of my hours and do my test again.

That's cool, what of planes?
I trained in a Cessna 152, which is two seats, side by side. My whole family are aeroplane enthusiasts really. Both of my uncles have a fleet, they have 5 to 10 each. We have a lot pilots in our family and my sister's an air hostess, so it’s been around all my life. I flew my first plane when I was 3 years old. My dad was sitting first left and my uncle was sitting captain, he just turned around and said “Do you fancy flying?” and I was like “Yeah”. He picked me up, sat me on his lap and said “Steer between the clouds”. He was doing the rudders and I was doing the stick. So I was quite literally steering between the clouds, it was beautiful. It's one of my earliest memories.

What's the best bit about flying?
I’ve got two different ones; If I’m gliding, which is without an engine, it is just the pure silence of it. All you hear is the wind coming over the windscreen and that's it. You can feel everything that's happening. The other is when you're flying a normal plane, just being in complete control of it. You can do what you want. When you come into land there's a slight crosswind and when you land with crosswind you have to make calculations based on the environment. If you’re feeling the plane pushing one way you’ve got to do something different to make it do something else. It's just incredible for me, I love it.

Is it quite mathematical?
It is, but you don’t have to be good at maths to do it. You just have to turn up to an air field and start your license.

Do you only have to do it once?
You only have to do it once yeah, but between examinations you have to wait 16 months.

How much do you fly now?
I’ve put it on hold since I started modelling. Before I wanted to be a pilot. I’d still love to be don't get me wrong, but I’m taking everything day by day.

Is it something you’re going to go back to?
That's the plan. I'd love to go to Oxford Aviation Academy one day. You’re away for the year, you’ve got all your exams including one re-test on every exam. It pays for your flights over to Arizona or Florida, where you do your hours.You’re basically guaranteed a job straight after you finish school.

What pets did you have when you were younger?
We had a black labrador called Pippa, she was brilliant. She was born in February and I was born in January. We got her in April. She was 16 and a half years old when she died. She also had 8 puppies. I rememeber a time one of my best mates came over when we were 8 and he picked one of them up and dropped it. My dog honestly never forgave him after that, she held such a grudge and growled at him every single time he'd come over. haha

You mentioned you got scouted in a fish and chips shop?
Yeah, he came over on a Friday night and we were really busy, so he didn’t really say anything and I was only 15 I think at the time. Then a year later he saw me in my home town in a bookshop and stopped me. He said “Where do I recognise you from?” and I was like “I work in that fish and chip shop you always come into”.

How has the experience of modelling been for you so far?
It’s amazing. I’ve met so many different people and so many different characters. You can’t pass it up. Amazing places and opportunities that I would never have had otherwise. I'm really happy.

Do you think it’s changed you as a person?
I hope it has! I hope it's changed me for the better, but you'd have to talk to one of my old school mates for that.

What were you like as a child?
I wasn’t too bad. I had no front teeth for two years. They took two sets out and they though they would just come through, the adult ones. They never did for two Christmases. I sang "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” for two years on the trott. It was terrible, but it was alright. I don’t think I was a bad kid.... Not as bad as some anyway.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I would like to be in my own house, with hopefully the same job. Dogs will probably still be around, because they’re only small, aren't they? In a house that I’ve actually bought, with a garden, garage, everything included. Settled down and hopefully in the next stage of my life. The next step. Who knows!

If there is anywhere in the world that you could go where would it be?
For how long?

However long you want!
Then I'd say New Zealand or Hawaii. It's the furthest place away from England. Not to escape, just to see how it is over there. Different cultures. I want to do this trip I've had in mind, driving either to England or from England. From like Japan or something. Long way! It would take a few weeks haha. I just want to see everything and then go to China, Korea, Japan. See the rural areas. Paddy fields.

When did you go to Japan?
2012. It was absolutely boiling hot. Humid isn’t even the word for it… it was so wet. It was not nice. I was working there.

It’s still an experience?
Of course! It's all an experience, isn't it. Japan is amazing. It’s incredible how far Irish pubs have actually gone. They have inhabited everywhere. In Japan, where I was staying there were like six Irish pubs - in the middle of Japan! Any city you go to now there's an Irish pub, it’s mental. I didn’t think it’d be like that, I thought it’d be like saki bars everywhere. McPaddy’s isn't the best name for a saki bar.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
First thing that anyone says to me is “God you’re tall. So, tall…" I try and be a gentleman. You can do the last one haha…

How do you think your friends would describe you?
I think the same. I hope the same. I never like to make anyone feel out of place. I just like everyone to get along.

What would you like to do if given a few extra years?
See everything. Walk. Go to an island for a few years. Bear Grylls style!

If you had any words to live by what would they be?
Treat others how you expect to be treated. That’s just words that have stuck with me my whole life. Yeah, because if you do something bad to someone and you put yourself in their shoes, you wouldn’t want it. You’ve just got to be nice.

Words and Interview by Sophie Mayanne.

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