The Ultimate Aviation Internet Resource Guide

According to studies, the average person apparently spends nearly seven hours a day on the internet in some way, shape or form. When you take away social media, endless perfectly posed selfies, cute puppies, and videos of cats doing hilarious things – there is actually an incredible amount of useful information out there on basically anything you might need to know, including aviation websites for student pilots.


The aviation world is no different. We rely on internet-based information for anything from training resources and simulation, to live flight data, navigational aids and real-time weather.

Many pilots might not know just how useful the internet can be to enhance your flight training experience, so we decided to put together a list of the best aviation websites for student pilots. Happy surfing!


Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

Over the last few years, the CASA website has seen significant improvement in terms of functionality and training resource availability. The website includes access to:

  • Aerodrome and airspace information
  • Aircraft register and airworthiness information
  • Written and multimedia training and education resources
  • Rules, regulations and safety information
  • Licensing information
  • Medical information and links

CASA also has a YouTube channel featuring videos that target topics including human factors, safety management, fatigue, drones and flight crew licensing and training.


Recreational Aviation Australia (RA-Aus)

With nearly 10,000 pilot members, RA-Aus is the peak body in Australia responsible for administering ultralight, recreational and Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) operations. On the website you will find:

  • Membership and member event information
  • Training information
  • Accident summaries

RA-Aus offers a host of scholarships for flight instructors, maintainers and people of any age who wish to enter the aviation industry, and also publishes a print magazine called Sport Pilot.

Airservices Australia

Airservices Australia is a government-owned organisation providing the aviation industry with telecommunications, aeronautical data, navigation services and aviation rescue and firefighting services. They are also the provider of NAIPS – the pilot briefing service which covers flight plan filing, NOTAMs and safety information. The website has:

  • Navigation information
  • Flight briefing services
  • Career information for air traffic control, aviation rescue and firefighting
  • Charts, navigational supplements and other products available for purchase online

Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)

Through regular forecasts, warnings, monitoring and advice covering both Australia and Antarctica, BoM provides one of the most fundamental and widely used government services.

They also offer an aviation weather service that provides pilots with meteorological information necessary for safe operations within the technical and regulatory framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Some of the information of the website includes:

  • Interactive Local and national weather maps and forecasts
  • Interactive weather radars
  • Synoptic charts and forecasts
  • Aviation weather warnings
  • Downloadable resources and historical data
  • Graphical Area Forecasts (GAF)



There are many aviation news websites available online that contain a range of information including industry updates and news, training-related articles, regulatory changes, reviews, features, events, galleries, videos, competitions and more. Here are some of our favourites:

Australian Flying
Australian Aviation
Flight Safety Australia



AvPlan EFB

AvPlan is an Australian flight planning application for Apple iPad, iPhone and Android devices. AvPlan is CASA approved and therefore can be used as a legal replacement for paper maps, ERSA, DAP, AIP and AIP SUP. The website includes:

  • Tutorials, tips and webinars
  • Virtual co-pilot
  • Airfield directories

AvPlan EFB also offers flight plan transfers from Jeppesen, FliteDeck, Command Flight Planner and Champagne.

OzRunways EFB

Available for Apple and Android devices, OzRunways is an Australian electronic flight bag, approved by CASA as a data provider, meaning that Australian pilots can use it to meet all requirements for document carriage in flight. It provides worldwide airport weather, NOTAMS and full area briefings in Australia. The website offers:

  • Subscriptions (free trial offer as well)
  • User manuals
  • Online support


There are a few websites that provide real-time flight tracking information around the globe, with the ability to zoom into local areas for more detailed information. We recommend:

Flight Radar 24
Flight Aware


Aviation Australia

Aviation Australia is a registered training organisation, established to support the development and growth of the aviation and aerospace industries in both the Australian and international markets. On the website you can find:

  • Aviation courses
  • Student support
  • Aviation employment services

Pilot Career Centre Oceania

The PCC is comprised of a global team made up of present-day airline pilots. The site offers a wealth of relevant industry insight, recent airline interview experience, and career advice, including:

  • Pilot shortage news
  • Aviation news and updates
  • Pilot jobs
  • Training information
  • Pilot CV assistance
  • Tips for airline interview preparation


Road To Becoming An Airline Second Officer – Matt Waterton

Even for those young men and women who have already taken steps towards being a pilot, until very recently a career as an airline pilot has still seemed out of reach.

Many major airlines are opening up their doors, increasing numbers in their cadet and direct entry programs and offering new entry points into the industry. Whilst now is the perfect time to look at an airline career, getting there is still very competitive and challenging. To give yourself the best possible chance of success, you need an edge – and that edge is preparation, and knowledge from people experienced in how both the cadet program itself and the industry in general works.

We spoke to Matt, one of the success stories of our Airline Interview Preparation Program about his passion for flying and his experiences in applying and being accepted into a cadet program. Now flying as a Second Officer with a major airline based in Asia, Matt Waterton is well on his way to achieving his aviation dreams in the airline industry.


I travelled regularly as a child and found myself more interested in what type of aircraft I was flying on, rather than the trip itself. In the days when it was legal, I used to visit the flight deck where I found myself fascinated by the complexity of the dials and switches. I remained in the cockpit during landing on several flights, and it was on one of these occasions when the captain allowed me to wear headphones and listen to Air Traffic Control, that I realised flying was my passion.


I still find that there is still nothing quite like accelerating down the runway and taking off. However, I do enjoy looking at the night sky and observing things I wouldn’t usually be able to see; the International Space Station, shooting stars, and the ever-changing scenery down below.


Unfortunately for me, I have always had a soft spot for the Concorde. It flew higher and faster 50 years ago than any airliners in active service today. It truly made the world a much smaller place. It amazes me that Concorde was designed and engineered in a time without computers as we know them.


I’d love to be the captain of an airliner into London or my hometown of Brisbane.


I’m currently a Second Officer at a major airline based in Asia. It’s a great job – I mainly fly sectors back to Australia, so I always get to catch up with my family. The crew are fantastic and easy to talk to, and very supportive if I’m due for any upcoming training sims.


I used to fly skydivers in a Cessna aircraft. It was a great job for getting used to manually handling an aircraft and seeing how they perform towards their limits. I then worked as a charter pilot in a twin-engine piston aircraft based in Queensland. I primarily flew passengers to remote towns in Australia, landing on some interesting landing strips.


Yes, it was indeed. I made sure I did everything I could to prepare for the process. I found the interview itself to be less confronting than I had expected, that was a big relief! I had to pass an initial interview, followed by two days of testing before I was accepted. The two days encompassed a group interview with other candidates (a problem-solving activity), psychometric testing, a simulator assessment in a 747 simulator, and finally a panel interview.


… Waiting to see if I was successful or not was agonising. I’d jump every time I received an email! Make sure you receive all the help you can for your interview; interview preparation, reading through online forums to see what to expect, and running through the simulator assessment on a flight simulator.

Make sure you’re completely familiar with the airline you’re applying to. That includes where they fly to, knowing about the country in which the airline is based, which aircraft they operate, and most importantly – what is expected of you in the position you’re applying for. Knowing you’ve done everything you can makes it that much easier to stay calm and be yourself during the interview.


Learn To Fly has teamed up with Senior Captain Darren McPherson of Aviation Consulting Services (ACS) to offer 3 fantastic programs aimed at giving you the edge in preparation for airline interviews. ACS’ services have had a huge impact on airline applicants, and Matt is just one of 75 success stories in little more than 2 years.

Check out the courses below, and get in contact with us to find out more or organise a meeting.

Future Cadet Pilot Program

Cadet Pilot Interview Workshop

Airline Interview Coaching Session

Recommended Pathway to become an airline pilot – for overseas student


When talking to student pilot hopefuls from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia etc, many still think there is a huge risk paying to study their Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), because they think that they will never get a flying job. This may have been difficult a few years ago, however the aviation industry has completely changed recently.

If you want to become an airline pilot – or a pilot in general – there has never been a better time than right now to get into the aviation industry.


After graduating as a CPL, to get a better chance to be hired by the airline, most of the students choose to work as a Charter Pilot or a Flight Instructor to gain more flying experiences before applying with the airline.

As a overseas student, this may have been difficult a few years ago. However, looking at the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) website now, you will find that there are a lot of General Aviation (GA) pilot jobs listed, many of them would accept overseas pilot who can work legally in Australia.

Even as a fresh graduate, Junior Flight Instructors are now offered a FULL TIME job, whereas in the past they would have only been offered a no-guarantees role with an hourly rate. Flying schools in regional or remote areas are now really struggling to find Instructors to work for them because it’s so easy to get a job in major cities like Melbourne and Sydney. Pilots that would have previously needed to take whatever job they could find, regardless of location, are no longer willing to work and stay in the middle of nowhere.


Cathay Pacific, for example, are offering Direct Entry Second Officer roles that only require a CPL and 500 flying hours. Singapore Airlines and Scoot are offering both Direct Entry Second Officer and Direct Entry Junior First Officer with no minimum flying hours requirement.

This is a strong message from the airlines to everyone who might be thinking about becoming an airline pilot, saying “go and get your licences and we will offer you a chance at a career”.


Followings are the recommended pathways for overseas student who want to become an airline pilot.

Planning is extremely crucial though – for example, if you are planning to get an Aviation Degree, you may want to consider the following path:

  1. Study the Diploma of Aviation (CPL) and get your Commercial Pilot Licence with a flying school in Australia
  2. Study to obtain your Flight Instructor Rating (FIR) straight away after completing the Diploma program
  3. Choose a university and enrol in the Bachelor of Aviation course with your Diploma certificate. You can most likely claim up to 12 months’ credit, meaning that you only need to study for 2 years to finish off the Bachelor program
  4. While you are studying at university, your student visa will allow you to work up to 20 hours a week, which means you can work as a part time Junior Flight Instructor and study at the same time
  5. After 2 years when you graduate with your Bachelor Degree, you will become a Grade 2 Senior Flight Instructor with roughly 800 flying hours already
  6. At this stage, you will already fulfil many of the airlines’ entry requirements and will be able to apply for an airline pilot job Or you can continue to work as a flying instructor until your visa expires

This is a much better pathway than just enrolling in a Bachelor of Aviation course at the start and gives you a much more flexible career pathway.

If you are not planning to study the university, there are still many ways to work legally in Australia, you may want to consider the following path:

  1. Study the Diploma of Aviation (CPL) and get your Commercial Pilot Licence with a flying school in Australia
  2. Study to obtain your Flight Instructor Rating (FIR) straight away after completing the Diploma program
  3. Apply for either Working Holiday Visa / Work Holiday Visa (Depending on which country you are coming from) OR Temporary Skills Shortage Visa.
  4. Work as a full time Flight Instructor
  5. After accumulating 200 instructional flying hours, you can become a Grade 2 Flight Instructor and continue to work as a flying instructor until your visa expires
  6. At this stage, you will already fulfil many of the airlines’ entry requirements and will be able to apply for an airline pilot job

Working Holiday Visa: Citizens of many countries are eligible for this visa, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia etc. Work and Holiday Visa and Working Holiday Visa holders need to change employer every 6 months, but after 6 months’ working as a Flight Instructor for one employer you will most likely become a Grade 2 Flight Instructor. This means that there will most likely be many jobs available to you at other flying schools, since Grade 2 Flight Instructors can work without supervision and are therefore in high demand.

See more on the eligibility requirements for this visa here

Temporary Skills Shortage Visa (TSS): The TSS visa is a sponsored work visa that recognises skills that are in high demand in Australia. As mentioned previously, the recent demand for Flight Instructors in major cities has left many regional and rural flying schools with a shortage and unable to recruit enough pilots. Some of these areas even include larger regional cities, and if you are willing to work there, you may well find that a flying school is able to sponsor you for full time employment on a TSS visa.

See more on the eligibility requirements for this visa here


Whichever path you choose, planning is the most important aspect – and you can only plan properly when you have accurate information. Stop listening to people who may not know about the current situation for flight training in Australia, or who may not know about the Australian Aviation industry in general.

Make sure that you consult with specialists in the industry, like Learn To Fly, as we can provide you with accurate and up-to-date information to help you choose the pathway that will work the best for you and your situation.

6 Questions During Pilot Interviews That Are Frequently Underestimated

Contributed by Darren McPherson, our Airline Interview & Workshop coach and A350 senior captain at a major international airline with over 30 years’ experience.

When leading courses at ACS and with Learn to Fly, we have had many successful airline candidates who are now flying large turboprop and jet airliners. This has given us the opportunity to assist candidates through the Interview Process and successfully improve techniques and methods to do so. Throughout this process a number of key aspects have become apparent, not just early in one’s preparation, but even at the later stages as the interview date approaches.


As always, the key to any interview is preparation and the earlier the better.

Although aspects of the practical and theoretical side of flying is always being considered, the interview side pondering aspects about HR repeatedly gets left as one of the lowest priorities.

A typical trend leading towards an interview date is the lead up time. If the interview date is within 1 month then a lot of work is essential, and this workload simply can be overwhelming. It is essential to go away from either individual or group preparation sessions and to have time to think about your responses, then develop or evolve them when compared to your previously considered thoughts and ideas.

Over the previous 2 years with more than 75 airline job offers from 8 major airlines, the typical successful candidate has started their HR Preparation with at least 6 weeks notice; typically at least 2 months. This allows time to develop a strong, well thought out and prepared candidate.


A number of areas and questions have become apparent that candidates consistently need to develop further. At times the focus is so strong on standard yet obvious questions, such as “Why should we employ you?”, and “What are you going to get from working for our organisation?” That others remain underestimated and therefor require more consideration.

The top 6 obvious questions that consistently require more consideration are as follows:

  1. Discuss your role in this upcoming position.
  2. Where do you see yourself in the long term ie 5, 10 and 20 years from now?
  3. What has been the most satisfying part of your career?
  4. Discuss a time when you have been under pressure, and how did you overcome this?
  5. What is your PLAN B if you are unsuccessful today?
  6. How can your role as a Pilot be used to improve the customer experience, and our product?

Overall candidates need to review these above areas with more detail and develop a more intelligible trend of these obvious yet lacking areas. Therefore, presenting you the candidate as a more thought out, and ultimately better person for the job.

For more information on not just these questions and more please don’t hesitate to contact us regarding the various courses on offer to see where we can help you obtain that dream job in the future.

For more information on our training and how to succeed an airline interview, head to our Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP) page or contact ACS to help you further.

My Flight Story: Learning to Fly with Balendran Thavarajah

LTF student Balendran Thavarajah has just successfully completed his first solo flight. We thought it would be a great idea to share his flight story, to show you that it is possible to juggle a busy professional and family life with your dream of flying.

LTF: You’re currently completing your RPC – what’s your end goal with flying?

Balendran: In the short term, I would like to complete my RPC with passenger and cross-country endorsements. Ultimately, I want to obtain a Private Pilot Licence.

What made you want to learn how to fly?

I was fascinated by planes and the idea of an aircraft moving through the air. As a kid, I wanted to be a fighter jet pilot but, growing up in Northern Sri Lanka during a prolonged civil war provided no such opportunities. After arriving in Australia, I realised that private aviation was not for the privileged alone. Last year, I finally made the plunge. I am so close to fulfilling my dreams, and I could not be happier. Eventually, I would love to take my daughter around Australia and I feel that is not too far away. Flying with my family in our own aircraft is my next big goal. I guess, now I am a step closer to achieving that goal.

What do you love most about flying?

I love all aspects of flying. From the feeling of being high up in the air in a lightweight aircraft to the sound of propellers, and the way the plane responds to the movement of controls. Every single flight still amazes me.

It is an incredibly relaxing and crazily exciting feeling. I fly on the weekend and it makes my weekend super fun. My instructor Anurag is great and he has made the learning experience very enjoyable. I have been thoroughly enjoying the theoretical side as well as the actual flying. Early morning flights from Moorabbin to Tooradin airport and back on a winter day is unbelievably calming and the views along the shorelines are breathtaking.

If you were given the opportunity to fly any aircraft you wanted, what would be your first choice and why?

It would have to be the Piaggio P.180 Avanti. I am a big fan of anything unconventional. Can’t go past the unique and efficient design of an Avanti. Avanti uses turbine power to rotate the propellers and boasts three surfaces that produce lift. The main wing, front wing, and the tail. On a conventional aircraft, the wings are the primary lift producers.

Tell us a bit about what you do outside of flying

I am a technology executive and lead a busy life. Being the best Dad, I can be to my 9-year-old daughter and managing my work commitments keep me fully occupied. In that sense, I am not the typical learner that a school like Learn To Fly would attract. Apart from flying, I do love roller skating, movies, Stand up comedy, Rugby League, reading and long rides on my motorcycle.

How do you find juggling your busy life with learning to fly, and what advice would you give to other FT professionals and/or people with families wondering whether they will be able to do it?

Juggling family and work priorities with your hobbies can be a challenge. I knew from the beginning, being disciplined with my time management was the key. It has taken me 10 months to get my first solo flight, because I was time poor. I had to take my daughter to the flying school on some weekends. While I flew, she would stay back at the office and get through her homework. The most important thing is to establish some basic goals; in my case it was to fly a couple of times a month on the weekends. That was the goal I set for myself and I got stuck into it. Once I got going, everything fell in to place. The school was flexible and made it easier for me to complete my exams and the required hours of flying at my own pace.

My Dad told me if he waited for the right time, he would not have had me and I would not be here today. This applies to anything in life. The right time may never arrive for anything you want to do. If flying is something you want to do, the right time is right now and you will make time for it.

Balendran leads a busy professional life as Chief Technology Officer of Bluedot. Bluedot has rapidly grown from its humble beginning to being a very serious player in the global mobile location services marketplace. The product Bluedot offers is cutting edge, truly innovative and ahead of its time. Balendran has had a very exciting career so far at some of Australia’s reputable organisations. He is passionate about growing and developing people.

Prior to Bluedot, he held senior roles at Standards Australia, Centrelink, Soul and TPG. Balendran is also an Associate Lecturer at the Western Sydney University.

We wish Balendran all the best with his flying adventures, and look forward to seeing him reach his goals. If you’re looking to kickstart your flying career, check out our range of courses.

Sharing experiences: How I passed my cadet pilot interview with Singapore Airlines

Who Am I ?

My name is Shaun and I am here to tell you about how I started my journey to become a pilot.

Firstly some background about me – I got interested in aviation about 3 years ago (2015). Prior to that, I had absolutely no background on aviation at all, no flying experience, no education, nothing. What sparked my interest was a rather chance encounter while I was working full time 3 years ago. Back then, I was working full time at my family’s business where we run a car workshop.

One of our customers happened to be a pilot from Singapore Airlines, and I managed to speak to him for a bit while he was waiting for his car to be serviced. He sparked my interest in aviation, and after he told me that Singapore Airlines was actively recruiting, I immediately had the thought of trying it out.

However, one thing that did come to mind for me is that there is a rather lengthy bond, 7 years from after your graduation from training. Now I know some people might think it is a small price to pay for sponsored training, but from what I gathered, most people do not realise this before applying – are you really suited for flying, and can you meet the airlines strict standards of training?

Singapore Airlines Cadet Pilot Program

I thought about if I was the interviewer and a candidate told me he is passionate about being a pilot but has never flown a plane before, it does not really sound believable or convincing does it? So I thought it wise to see if I was suited to fly first. After all, even if I did manage to get in, what if I got chopped halfway during training? It is a very real thing and it is still happening now as I have witnessed a few cadets being chopped as they are unable to handle the flight training.

Just for your info, for Singapore Airlines cadetship, you have to complete ground school in Singapore first for 6 months, and only after passing the 14 ATPL papers will you then be sent to Jandakot in Perth to start the flight training. There is a wait period before being sent to Jandakot as well and it can range from 3 weeks to 2 months. So imagine if you are not able to handle the flight training and get chopped halfway through the course, it is not only a waste of your time, but it is also a wasted opportunity to have completed the training if you had prior experience.

Prior Flying Experience Is Important

In fact, in the first week when I reached Jandakot, the assistant Chief Flight Instructor (CFI) asked all of us who has prior flying experience, and pointed out that those with experience have a huge advantage over those who do not. Why this is so is because the school has strict limitations on the number of hours you can fly under training and will not allow for multiple repeats. One major hurdle for most people is the first solo, and a number of people who were unable to clear the first solo check within the set number of hours by the school would be terminated.

My Interview Preparation

Okay, enough about the gloomy stuff. On to the preparation on how I got in.

The first thing I did was to book a simulator session at the now defunct SG Flight Simulations (Airbus A320), and also one at Flight Experience Singapore (Boeing 737). The experience I had at both these simulators was enlightening, but it was not really as beneficial as I thought as I did not really have any idea what was going on and what I was doing. I thought about what I should do next, and by coincidence I chanced upon the Learn to Fly advertisement on Facebook. I was immediately attracted to it when I read about their Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP).

Not only did it offer flight training at a cheaper cost, but what really attracted me was the Interview Coaching Session with one of the Senior Captains from a famous Airline in Hong Kong – Darren Mcpherson. Darren has been an interviewer for cadets at his Airline before, and he provided me with the much needed feedback I required for my preparation for the interview. He was a great help to me – I had even went through a few skype interview sessions with him before my actual SIA interview.

During my time in Melbourne, I must say that I enjoyed the flight training thoroughly. The instructors are friendly and helpful, and the planes are maintained well, despite the fact that it is cheaper than other general aviation schools. I made lots of new friends with similar goals, and we all helped each other out. There were a few hiccups here and there, but no one is perfect, and if you are considering enrolling in a flight school, I must forewarn you to adjust your expectations. Even with that said, the school manager is a very hardworking person and I am thankful that he was able to make arrangements for me to complete my training in 1.5 months as I was on a tight schedule.

Areas Of Knowledge

I only applied to SIA after I came back from Melbourne. I prepared myself by reading up on the followings:

  • Air crash investigations – Ones such as Air France 447 and Air Asia 8501 which were pretty prominent cases at the time
  • Latest news regarding SIA (destinations, new products, and so on)
  • What the MPL program was all about
  • Watching the video Inside Singapore Airlines by National Geographic
  • Reading up about crew resource management
  • Reading up about incidents involving SIA planes (avherald is a good source)
  • Reading up on SIA annual reports and shareholder reports to see how the company is doing
  • Reading up about the fleet of SIA (plane models, engine name, maximum thrust, maximum endurance, max takeoff weight)
  • Revising on what I had learn at learn to fly (aerodynamics, principles of flight, landing and crosswind procedures)
  • Preparation for the HR side of questions, such as what are my strengths and weaknesses, examples of situations when I demonstrated leadership, problem solving
  • Working on a good introduction

For the last point, it is especially important as the interview process is very fluid, and they can really ask you about anything if they want to. Why a good introduction is important is because how the interview proceeds will depend on how you do your introduction. For me personally, both my initial and final interviews were very focused on my experience in Melbourne at Learn to Fly. This made it somewhat slightly less intimidating for me as it was more of a sharing session rather than a hard grilling compared to other interviewees.

Moment Of Truth

After completing the final interview, the very next day you would know if you made it through or not. Fortunately for me, I was selected. I was happy and at the same time grateful to have been given this opportunity. When I left Melbourne to return to Singapore, I remember feeling sad as I was unable to complete my navigation training. Now that I am given another chance to do so, I will cherish this opportunity.

Anyway, for those of you who require more info on the application process to Singapore Airlines, the Hardwarezone Forum is a good resource. I read all of the pages of it. Also, some other good resources are: Ace The Technical Pilot Interview by Gary V. Bristow and Flying The Big Jets by Stanley Stewart. I read both of these as well.

Thank you for reading. I wish you all the best in your application.

Disclaimer: In no way am I representing the company, I am just sharing my personal experiences which may differ from person to person.

Inspirational Pilot Feature – NZ Pilot Aimee Burn

We came across the story of 20 year old New Zealander Aimee Burn recently, and found one of her comments in particular very inspiring:

  • When people ask me why I wanted to become a pilot, I simply answer, “Why would you NOT want to become a pilot?”

With a lot of recent media coverage surrounding the current and predicted future shortage of pilots, we feel it’s important to share inspirational stories – in particular from young pilots going after their aviation dreams.

Many of the world’s biggest airlines have become very proactive in recruiting more female pilots, and this will be wonderful for the aviation industry. We hope that young people, female or male, who are thinking about becoming a pilot, find stories like Aimee’s inspirational.


It was a combination of the mechanical side of aviation, and the beauty of it all. I love aircraft engines and their sounds, and I love that aircraft operate in an area where humans aren’t supposed to be, in the sky.


My parents bought me my first trial flight when I was 15 and I loved it. When I was 16 I went on a two week flying camp and did my first solo after 8 hours of flight instruction. I continued flight lessons through a club for my PPL throughout high school then once I left, I joined an actual flying academy where I did a two year course and attained my Diploma in Aviation. I graduated in December 2017.


I applied for probably about 15 different operators and it wasn’t going so well so I figured I would probably have to continue being a flight instructor, but overseas where the demand was higher. One day I got an email back from my current boss saying that they were in need of a pilot right away, and here I am. So it only took about 1 month after graduating for me to find my first job!


To be honest I actually don’t. I have more of a five year plan. With aviation, the opportunities are endless and there are so many different areas of aviation to explore, so I want to try out as many things as possible. I definitely don’t just want to reach 1,000 hours then jump into the airlines. Within the next five years I hope to be flying seaplanes overseas, somewhere warm.


The only thing stopping you achieving your goals is yourself. Females have been pilots for decades now and there is nothing stopping us from becoming commercial pilots, so never let anyone try and tell you otherwise. Work hard in flight school but remember to have fun.

Do not forget to look outside the aircraft window sometimes and appreciate the beauty of flying and remind yourself that all that hard work will be worth it when you are getting paid to do that.


Deon Mitton is an inspiration for me as I’d love to get into that kind of work, flying seaplanes etc.

Amelie Windel, who is a professional aerobatic pilot, constantly inspires me to get into aerobatics. Her videos are awesome and she’s an awesome role model for aspiring female pilots.


Five of my fav accounts are:

Congratulations Aimee for being such an inspiration for young pilots out there, and thank you for taking the time to share your story. You can follow Aimee’s flying adventures at

Joining the Jetstar Cadet Pilot Program

We are really excited to hear that one of our students, Silas Zhang, has been accepted into the Jetstar Cadet Pilot Program. Silas was previously a nurse before deciding that he wanted to make the transition into an exciting career in aviation.


The Cadet Pilot Program is essentially a short cut for people who want to become an airline pilot, without having to spend time working in the General Aviation industry to gain the experience required to meet the minimum airline requirements.

It’s as close as you can get to a guaranteed job with an airline (subject of course to your performance during the training), with more than 80% of cadets usually passing and becoming airline pilots straight away.


The application process for the Cadet Pilot Program covers a number of different components, and each potential cadet will be required to undertake the following:

  1. An aptitude test covering general and technical questions
  2. Group discussion, within a group of 6-9 other potential cadets. You will be allocated a task, and will then be observed on your contribution to the task as well as how you interact with your other group members
  3. Two interviews, one with Jetstar and one with a flying school. These interviews will focus more on personality-based questions rather than technical questions

You are usually competing for acceptance into the program with hundreds of other applicants, and on average only around 15 students are accepted into the program for each class. Successful applicants are required to complete their training within 18 months.


After successful completion of the training in Melbourne, cadets will complete a Type Endorsement for either the Airbus A320 or Boeing B787 aircraft, depending on Jetstar requirements at the time. Following an initial Line Check, the cadet will then join Jetstar to commence their flying career.


The key to successful entry into the program is preparation more-so than passion (though passion is obviously still important).

Nearly every single candidate will say that they have passion to fly and to become an airline pilot – therefore, it’s not so much what you SAY, but what you DO to prove you have that passion. For example, if you haven’t done any aviation study or flight training, how do you prove you are passionate?

There are many things that can be done before the interview besides the theory knowledge and flying experience, and how you perform during your interview is also very important.

Are you able to show Jetstar that you have the mindset and personality to become one of their pilots? Are you able to work well with other pilots in the cockpit? Do you have good decision-making skills and the level-headedness to handle emergency situations?


Learn to Fly offers a comprehensive Airline Interview Coaching Session, that covers all testing and interview processes. Basically, we will teach you how to pass all of the tests, giving you the best chance of success.

We will also provide you with the opportunity to practice, by providing you with example group discussions questions and then mentoring you on what Jetstar’s expectations will likely be for each question.

Our Airline Interview Coaching Session instructor – Darren McPherson is a A330, A350 Senior Captain with a major airline, and he has already assisted more than 75 students to successfully pass their interviews and be offered pilot jobs. Successful students now fly for airlines including Qantas, Qantas Link, Jetstar, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, and Sky West.

Check out our Airline Interview Coaching Session course guide here.

Leeanne Kaplan – Her First Solo Flight

Learn to Fly RPC student Leeanne Kaplan won’t be forgetting her 15th birthday in a hurry. She started studying the theory components for her Recreational Pilot Certificate (RPC) at age 13, patiently waiting until she was 14 to be allowed to take the controls of an aircraft in flight under the guidance of her instructor.

And then, on the day of her 15th birthday, Leeanne successfully completed her first solo flight. Given that 15 is the minimum legal age at which you are actually allowed to fly solo, Leeanne is surely one of very few people that have actually achieved that milestone so early.

We asked Leeanne a few questions following this amazing achievement:

1. How do you feel after your first solo flight?

To be perfectly honest, after flying solo for the first time, I felt really self-accomplished and proud of myself. In the hours leading up to my flight and on my way to Tooradin, I was incredibly nervous. I wasn’t worried that I would crash, but more that I would forget something and disappoint everyone. However, I got over my nerves and just did it, and I’m glad that I did!

2. What was the most challenging thing about it?

The most challenging part about it is deciding to actually do it. By this point my nerves had calmed down but the first time Anurag (Leeanne’s instructor) asked me if I wanted to do a circuit by myself I put it off and asked to do two more with him.

I found that I just had to commit to it and to know that I would be fine, which I was.

3. When did you decide that you wanted to get a pilot licence?

In December 2016 I went to the HASSE x NASA Space School in Houston (Texas, USA) for two weeks and they were talking about the different career paths NASA can offer, one of which was a pilot. Being able to fly a plane has always interested me, and when I came back from the USA I decided to pursue it.

4. What do your friends at school think?

My friends are completely obsessed with me flying and they hardly ever shut up about it. When I told them that I flew solo I was bombarded with comments, congratulations, and videos, anything where they could get their message across. Needless to say, they are extremely supportive of me but I always get asked this one question; “When can you fly me to _____?”

5. What is your ultimate goal for your aviation career?

I don’t have an exact goal for my aviation career but I’m certain I would like to fly for a great airline like QANTAS. There are so many options and I know I have a long way to go, plus I don’t have to decide now.

The Best Time To Start Flight Training

With an enormous increase in pilot demand predicted globally in the next 20 years, there’s never been a better time to seriously consider a career in aviation. It’s fantastic to see young people like Leeanne with the passion and enthusiasm to start so early.

The aviation industry has traditionally been somewhat male-dominated, but that is changing, and there are many progressive airlines that are proactively looking to recruit more and more female pilots. It’s role models like Leeanne that will help to encourage more young females with a passion or interest in flying to have the courage and drive to pursue it.

Learn to Fly offers a range of courses to suit budding pilots of all ages and experience. For young people like Leeanne, the Recreational Pilot Certificate (RPC) is the best place to start. It allows you to commence learning and progress at a younger age than other courses such as the Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL).

After achieving your RPC, there are many other options available to you such as the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), and then Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). Whether your aviation career goal is to be a flight instructor and teach other students, fly charters, or become a Captain with a major airline – you will find plenty of exciting opportunities within this fast growing industry.

We very much look forward to seeing where Leeanne’s flying career takes her.

The Secret Weapon for 75 Successful Airline Pilot Interview Students

Learn to Fly is working with Senior Captain Darren McPherson from ACS (Aviation Consulting Services) to provide Airline Interview Training, and together we have helped numerous candidates successfully pass their airline interviews over the past 2 years.

These candidates have progressed onto various airlines such as Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific Airways, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines, Scoot, and QANTAS; plus various airlines in the United States. Furthermore, they are flying a range of aircraft types from the Dash 8 and ATR 72’s through to various Airbus and Boeing types; such as the A330, A350, B747, B777 and B787.


Now is a great time to get into the aviation industry. If you are hoping to potentially become an airline pilot by progressing through an Airline Cadetship Program, Learn to Fly can help you. Our Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP) is designed to successfully equip graduates with the skills, qualifications and experience required for any Airline Cadet Pilot Interview. The program will include the following training sessions:

  1. Flight Training – The objective of the the training is to give you a good and fair sampling of what flying feels like, plus an insight into the flight training process.
  2. Airline Interview Training – Darren McPherson from ACS (Aviation Consulting Services) will teach the interview training. As a Senior Captain at a major international airline with 30 years of experience, Captain Darren will teach you how to best present yourself for your interview. In the session he will thoroughly review your CV, as well as enhance your group discussion skills, human relations (HR) and technical knowledge to prepare for entry level airline positions
  3. Cadet Pilot Theory – The theory sessions will contain everything you need to know to have the best chance of passing the airline interview. They not only cover basic aerodynamics, but also technical knowledge related to airline operations Everything you need to know to pass the airline interview
  4. Simulation Training – The training is separated into 2 parts. The first part will be conducted by Flight Experiences Melbourne on their 737 flight simulator. You will complete the second component on Learn to Fly’s state-of-the-art VR flight simulator
  5. Aviation English – Prepare you to pass the ICAO Aviation English test which is one of the requirements requested by some airlines during the interview process

For more information, come and have a look at our Flight Training Centre, talk to our pilots and instructors, and look at the various courses that can help you progress towards these airlines and aircraft types in the future.

The Future of Flight Training in Australia Beyond September 1st 2018

It has been confirmed that after September 1st 2018, all of the flying schools in Australia will be divided into 3 main types:

  • CASA Part 141 flying schools
  • CASA Part 142 flying schools
  • RAAus flying schools

Learn to Fly is not only a RAAus (Recreational Aviation Australia) flying school, but through our membership with APTA (the Australian Pilot Training Alliance) we can also provide the GA (General Aviation) Part 142 syllabus under CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority).


If students want to undergo flight training under CASA syllabus, they will need to choose either a Part 141 or Part 142 flying school. At the moment, there are less than 10 fixed wing Part 142 flying schools in Australia, and we are very proud to be one of them.


  1. Less Training Hours: Part 142 flying schools are able to provide integrated training for CPL students within 150 hours, compared to the 200 hours of non-integrated training provided by a Part 141 flying school. This means that students learning with a Part 142 flying school could save up to 50 flying hours.
  2. Save on GST: Part 142 flying schools provide integrated training which can be GST-free, whereas Part 141 flying schools will be required to charge 10% GST on top of all of the other training fees.
  3. More Qualified Personnel: To be approved to conduct Part 142 training, flight schools are required to meet certain requirements, including personnel requirements meaning that they will always have a CASA-approved Safety Manager, Deputy Safety Manager, Quality Assurance Manager and Deputy Quality Assurance Manager.


RAAus has announced that RAAus pilots are now able to privately hire aircraft and operate in to and out of a specific airspace through an RAAus flying school, including controlled airspaces.

Before, RAAus pilots could generally only fly solo flight at a non-controlled airport. With the introduction of the new guidelines, now, RA pilots can fly solo from the airport at which the flying school is located. This saves a huge amount of time for students that may previously have had to travel to another airport to conduct their solo flights.

RAAus pilot training is the current trending preference in training, for a number of reasons. RAAus aircraft are generally newer and cheaper compared to traditional GA aircraft. In addition, converting from a RAAus licence such as the Recreational Pilot Certificate (RPC) to a GA licence like the Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) is so easy that students can eventually get the same licence at a far cheaper cost (and being able to fly in newer aircraft).

The Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW) of RAAus aircraft is currently 600kg, but RAAus is in the process of having that weight limit increased to 750kg then to 1,500kg. When that happens, traditional training aircraft such as the Cessna 172 and Piper Warrior will be able to be registered under RAAus.


If the MTOW is successfully increased to 1,500kg, then it is likely that more flying schools will join RAAus, and GA Part 141 flying schools will become somewhat obsolete for purposes other than license conversions.

Tips To Pass Different Pilot Theory Exams

Contributed by Learn to Fly Melbourne student Howard Lau.

Okay, so this was a hard pitch as a movie title. I know nothing grabs you like the words ‘exams’ and ‘theory.’ Well, what can I say? One thing is for certain, none of the exam questions will be about cats, so how about you close YouTube for now while I give you the inside scoop on what to expect from your theory exam. No matter what course you’re currently enrolled in, you need exam practice, so let’s get pumped for preparation!

Aviation is a complex and sophisticated profession. Airlines are not looking for cowboys and hotshots, but well-rounded, intelligent statesmen and women. Now look, the purpose of this post isn’t to change whatever ‘type’ you happen to be, but to remind you of the importance of approaching the exam runway carefully. I’m in the fortunate position of having completed all seven of my CPL subjects (woo-hoo!). In addition, I have passed my PPL theory exam and all RA-Aus theory exams (in flying colours I might add!). I’m not here to brag, but instead offer my experiences to help you.

Let’s separate the post into three sections: Recreational Pilot Certificate, Private Pilot Licence and Commercial Pilot Licence.


First of all, congratulations on embarking on a dazzling journey in aviation. These days, its common to start with a Recreational Pilot Certificate (RPC) under Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus). The theory exams of the RA-Aus syllabus comprise of:

  • Pre-Solo Air Legislation
  • Human Factors
  • Basic Aeronautical Knowledge
  • Flight Radiotelephone Operator Licence
  • Pre-Certificate Air Legislation

Each subject has its own degree of difficulty. One advantage is that they all come in multiple choice format. (It’s always B! Just kidding). As it occurs in the early stages of training, an instructor will usually decide whether or not you are ready to sit. The exam requires self discipline, concentration and rigorous study. An instructor’s blessing is no guarantee you will pass. Before you hit the cockpit, you need to hit the books! Just when you thought you’d finished school forever, study is the best way to get your career off the ground. To tackle my RA-Aus exams I set aside two hours of homework each night after class. This allowed me to iron out weak spots and plug up any gaps in my knowledge base. If you have any questions (and you should), remember you can always contact your instructor (but not at 3am! No matter how bad your dream was).

All RA-Aus exams requires a pass mark of at least 80%. So unfortunately you can’t just bluff your way through. Rest assured that you won’t be quizzed on anything other than what has been covered in class. That said, sometimes a question can have more than one right answer – RAAus will be looking for the one that is the ‘most right.’ That might sound funny, but it’s not just a matter of recalling information from memory, but displaying your own understanding of concepts.


The PPL comprises of one exam. The advantage is you can focus all of your attention and energy into one test. The exam will cover a wide range of topics, so your knowledge base will have to be up to speed. The PPL exam has around forty questions, with a range of multiple choice and ‘single answer.’ Some sections offer ‘double marks’ and require calculations. It’s vital to answer as many of these ‘doubles’ correctly as they will ultimately make or break your campaign. These questions relate to take-off and landing distances, weight and balance, density, height and pressure calculations.

It’s advantageous to memorise the formulas for these problems as an over-reliance on the flight computer could throw off your answer due to rounding errors. As you can imagine, flight mathematics must be precise, so slight variants will result in an incorrect answer (or worse, an accident!) There’s no room for ‘guesstimates.’ Having said that, don’t be alarmed – the questions aren’t complicated and you’re not expected to know everything at this stage.

You are allowed to take charts and materials into the examination, so you need to be organised. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the region(s) depicted in the charts as they’re based in Sydney. Most navigation questions require you to draw on the chart – here’s some advice – take it slow! You have a decent amount of time to complete the exam, so slow and steady wins the race. You don’t want your charts to look like a doctors prescription pad or a spider on drugs! There’s actually a saying in the military that applies to exams: “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

I found taking the AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication) into the exam didn’t help me. I referenced the Visual Flight Rules Guide (VFRG) and that covered all my bases. This is the only exam which allows you to carry the VFRG – which is concise and easy to follow, so this exam was a breeze (well, less of a gust).


Since there are seven separate exams for the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), I will just give an overview advice. The last thing I want to do is overwhelm you (there’s plenty of time for that). All exams except Aerodynamics, Aircraft General Knowledge (AGK) and Human Factors, require reference materials and tools to complete the questions. For all exams, a sound knowledge of the basic concepts is paramount as you could be quizzed on anything. The difficulty for each exam can fluctuate wildly, depending on who you talk to. Personally, I found Aerodynamics and Aircraft General Knowledge easy, while others struggled with these ones in particular.

It’s worth taking other students reports on an exam with a grain of salt. Everyone will have their own strengths and weaknesses within each subject. The best bet is to be prepared for anything! You can always set yourself a practice exam (what better way to spend a Saturday night!). For my preparation, I tackled each exercise in the Bob Tait books twice, ensuring I scored above 90% before considering myself ready for the real thing.

Preparing for exams is stressful and stress tires you out! If you’re still completing your CPLs it’s worth reducing your flying time. It sounds like a drag, but this is one case where too much multi-tasking can be your downfall. Use the extra energy to find which study times and locations suit you best. Some work better at home, in the morning – while others may be able to concentrate at school during the afternoon. I don’t know many people who do their best work at three in the morning! For subjects like Navigation and Performance, there are various calculations and chart reading exercises. You will benefit from completing the practice exercises and familiarising yourself with the formulas and formations. Again, it’s important to remember that rounding errors can jeopardise your entire exam. If you don’t carry the zero you could end up with nothing! You don’t need to be a genius mathematician, CASA just prefers the most conservative rounding.

To conclude, all exam success relies on sound study. Practice, be prepared and remember to take your time. Slow is smooth. There are no shortcuts to aviation knowledge, and being ready for all weather is a good rule for life and an even better theory for flying. Good luck!

Pilot Chat – Are You Onboard The Conversation?

Have you listened to the way a pilot speaks over the intercom? Can you make out everything they say?

Sometimes all those codes and terms can sound like another language. Clear and accurate communication is a part of a pilots skill set. There’s a lot more to learning to fly than knowing which buttons to press.


Passing the radio communications exam is compulsory for all trainee pilots. A pilots role is to be fluent and knowledgeable in the various technical words and abbreviations. A pilot who can respond swiftly and accurately with an air traffic controller will greatly reduce the margin for error. In the air, mishearing can lead to a Big Mistake. Some of the worst plane disasters have been caused by confusion from the pronunciation of certain words. A pilot must not just break through the sound barrier, but the language barrier as well.

On a 1977 flight to Tenerife (on Spain’s Canary Islands), a Dutch captain told air traffic control: “We are at take-off”. This message was misheard and with poor weather conditions, the control tower failed to monitor two planes headed for collision. Over 500 people were killed in what is still regarded as the worst aviation disaster in history.


The NATO spelling alphabet that you may already know, (where Alpha stands for A and Bravo means B) was first developed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) after World War II.

Like all languages, the phonetic alphabet can differ around the globe. Certain Scandinavian countries have altered letters and added symbols. To help with the pronunciation across nations, some words in the NATO alphabet are spelt differently. For example, ‘Alfa’ is spelt without the ‘ph.’ As some European languages would not pronounce it as an ‘f’. ‘Juliett’ is spelt with an extra ‘t’ for similar reasons. In French, Juliet would be pronounced with a silent ‘t’ at the end.


  • AFFIRM – Don’t believe everything you saw on Top Gun! Pilots don’t actually say “affirmative” for ‘yes’ – the correct term is pronounced “AY-firm”.
  • APPROACH – A plane coming into land.
  • DEADHEAD – A member of the crew who is travelling in a passenger seat. (We hate to think what they call the passengers!)
  • MAYDAY – This is one you never want to use. It’s the distress call for emergencies, such as a complete engine failure. It comes from the French ‘m’aidez’, meaning ‘help me.’ A pilot will say it three times (for good luck!)
  • MEL – Minimum Equipment List – This means a part of the aircraft has malfunctioned, but is not of vital importance. Can you imagine the turning the plane around for a broken coffee maker?
  • PAN-PAN – This is next level of distress down from ‘Mayday.’ It’s used for situations which are serious but not life-threatening. Pan-pan originates from the French word ‘panne’, meaning a breakdown. Like ‘Mayday’ it is said three times at the start of a call. It’s not to be confused with the ‘can-can’ which is a dance you should only do in emergencies!
  • ROGER – Contrary to popular belief, not all men who work in aviation are called Roger. This code-word confirms the pilot has received a message but not yet complied.
  • SQUAWK – To squawk is to set your transponder (the device for receiving a radio signal) so that your location can be identified on a radar. Pilots may be asked to ‘squawk Mode – – Charlie’ or ‘squawk ident’, which are special settings to allow air traffic control to locate a plane.
  • STANDBY– Meaning “please wait”, this is said when the air traffic controller or pilot is too busy to receive a message.
  • WILCO – An abbreviation of “will comply”, meaning the message has been received and the pilot will comply.

Okay, BRAVO YANKEE ECHO! (That’s ‘over and out’ by the way). We hope the airwaves as clear for you as the skies. See you out on the runway.

The Forced Landing: Case Study and Lessons Learnt (Part 2)

Contributed by Learn to Fly student Howard Lao.

The case study of the successful forced landing has proved that other than having tremendous flying experience, pilots need to be determined and make quick decisions.

Forced landings are simulations that we do when we are down to 500 feet and when we punch the power and overshoot; however, in reality, if your engine fails, you are literally flying the final 500 feet to the ground without training. The instructor did have the fortune to go through specialised forced landing training and he shared some excellent tips to students.


According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, aircrafts that are manufactured before 1987 only require a seat crash tolerance of 9Gs in all directions while for others all seats have to exceed that tolerance.

A Cessna 172R has a crashworthiness of 26Gs. As the impact in the incident was actually around 5–6Gs, it can be easy to exceed limitations if you botch something.


  1. To keep the cabin intact during the impact, you do not only need to fly at the minimum controller airspeed, but also use dispensable parts of the airplane to take the impact for you, such as the wings, landing gears and even the engine.
  2. The crash energy goes up with the square of airspeed and using other parts of the airplane structure can help reduce that crash energy safely.
  3. If you were to use trees like the instructor did in this case study, you should aim to impact the trees as horizontally as possible as that will allow the trees to reduce your forward kinetic energy.


A crucial takeaway from this case study is that not all engine failures are the ‘propeller stops spinning’ scenario that you might see in a textbook.

Most engine failures are in fact partial power loss. Some partial power losses can sustain level flight but in the case of the pilot in the case study, he didn’t have the power to sustain level flight, so essentially he was in a slightly powered glide.



  1. If your flight is too high, then fly faster, which will allow you to be less efficient and fall faster. You just have to have the technique to slow it down.
  2. If you want to lose altitude and you are not on final approach on a forced landing yet, it is advisable to pitch the nose over to the white arc speed in order to lose height even quicker.
  3. In the end, you have two options, either side-slipping or S-turns or even a combination of both.
  4. Do not be timid on S-turns! The instructor in this case study flies extremely wide S-turns, which is the only way for them to be effective.

Hopefully, this entry can inspire you to get up and practice some forced landings and consider that the last 500 feet will be the real make or break moment! Have fun and fly safe!

To learn more about forced flying techniques, head to Forced Landings: An Alternative Technique. Check out our courses page to start your flight training.

A Great Flight Instructor Makes for a Successful Career in Aviation

Flight instructors are the backbone of all successful aviation careers; however, we know that quality instructors are not easy to come by.

At Learn to Fly, the finest flight instructors are training some of the brightest future pilots in Melbourne. Our students are assigned their primary and secondary flight instructors; however, that is always open to change.

A great flight instructor should always be one you’re able to build a productive and trusting work relationship with. Regardless of how far into your aviation career you are, your instructor should always be someone you look to for guidance, assurance, advice and improvement. With this in mind, here are five great qualities all aviation students can expect from the right flight instructor:


Based on the current guidelines, all of LTF’s primary flight instructors are at an GA Grade 2 or RAAus senior instructor level, while their secondary instructors are at an junior level. The senior rating can only be achieved if the pilot accumulates certain flight training experiences and passes a flight test that is conducted by external GA or RAAus certified flight testing officers.

From the right control buttons to smooth landing movements, their skills and knowledge were honed by hard work and personal experiences. We know that our instructors’ shared personal experiences are full of priceless pieces of wisdom, giving rise to a kind of excitement in our students that can only be gained from receiving a pilot’s insight into the aviation industry.


During your aviation journey, a large portion of flight training is based on emergency procedures: stalls, wing drops, forced landings, engine failures, radio failures, and the list goes on! This is why our school standards require instructors to be well-trained. Learn to Fly will only employ instructors who are confident and can remain focused on the task at hand, alert, and ready to respond immediately to any potential situation in which the risk outweighs the learning opportunity.

Beyond our instructors’ seniority level, our chief flying instructor (CFI) actively supervises all flight training operations and consistently checks training records and documentation. This ensures that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are complied to and students can always feel safe while flying!


What kind of a learner are you? Do you learn visually or kinesthetically? Do you like to push yourself out of your comfort zone or take things step-by-step? Are you goal orientated or do you prefer to enjoy the ride? Knowing the answers to these questions is the first step to realising your potential, and a committed instructor can help you to really flourish.

Aside from the dos and don’ts in flying, a good flight instructor will teach you the right attitude towards managing risks, valuing responsibilities and trusting in your own abilities. Trust your flight instructors and allow them to help you become the efficient and reliable pilot you desire to be.


Great flight instructors are able to light up your curious mind. They’ve all had multiple years of experience, so it is never wrong to ask questions and express that you want to know more about aviation—they are here to help you learn!

Plus, they do great as motivators who’ll help you overcome any self-doubts and boost your confidence incredibly. Their goal is to get you career ready, so the key is to always find alignment between their goals and yours.


Your educators will always be a part of your journey. Whatever knowledge they’ve instilled will remain long after you leave the cockpit. From your first trial introductory flight to going solo, all the way to achieving your Commercial Pilot Licence, your instructor will have set the tone and had an influence over your entire career in the aviation industry—and that’s what makes the right one so special.

In flying, it’s essential to have a companion who’s always got your back. Choose wisely and set your sights on a successful aviation career. To start your journey with Learn to Fly, visit our website for a variety of beginner, intermediate and advance courses.

We’ll see you in the sky!

Focus on the Flying and Choose a Pathway Later with Learn to Fly

The big question: are you flying at Learn to Fly in order to pursue a professional career in general and/or commercial aviation, or here to become a recreational pilot instead?

At Learn To Fly, we believe in flexibility and diversity—in our instructors, students and courses. Regulation developments at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) put even more pressure on budding pilots to choose their pathway early, which is why we provide a seamless transition between the available options should you change your mind during the course.

Nevertheless, choosing which pathway to follow is a big decision so we’ve put together everything you need to know when planning your next steps.


RAAus can issue Recreational Pilot Certificates (RPCs). Emerging aviators should pursue this option if they don’t require the additional benefits and privileges offered by a Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) and above.

Achieving your RPC is a good starting place to help aviators gain their footing in this entirely new world. This certificate also provides students with the opportunity to pursue several additional endorsements—making this a great way to get started in aviation.

There are some restrictions with this certificate; however, with flights made by the pilot limited to 1–2 seater aircraft that can fly with a maximum total take-off weight of 600 kgs only.

On the other hand, medical requirements for this certificate are as effortless as having a driver’s licence and performing a pre-flight self assessment.

Students may decide that they wish to continue their pursuits in the aviation profession during their RPC program. Here at Learn To Fly, these students are given the opportunity to smoothly transition into one of our other training programs and effortlessly continue their aviation adventure.


Getting your RPL is the first major stage in pursuing a career in General Aviation. RPL holders can carry 3 passengers compared to RPC holders who can only carry one. RPL holders can also fly aircraft with a 1500 kg Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW) while RPC holders can only fly 600 kg MTOW.

In order to convert the RPC to an RPL, you will need to do a 2-hour instrument flying and flight review on a GA registered aircraft.

Getting your RPL puts you on the pathway to achieving your Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and eventually your Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), and with these, you can enter general and/or commercial aviation as a professional aviator.

Students may decide to continue along the professional aviation pathway after achieving their RPC and/or RPL. The team here at Learn To Fly will work tirelessly to ensure that students are aware of the process and coached appropriately.

The training and experience offered by Learn To Fly’s capable instructors means that the flight education we offer is of the highest quality. Whether you have chosen to pursue a professional aviation career or are aspiring to become a recreational pilot, your training will be equally valuable and will help you achieve your goals.

Still unsure? Contact Learn To Fly to ask any questions and start your flight training today!

Flying Circuits Calls for a Tip-Top Weather Brief

As an aviation student, you are constantly placed in unfamiliar situations that test your skill, airmanship and decision making. These Judgements could even determine the entire outcome of a flight. It is paramount for all pilots to attain a weather brief for all matters of flying, including flying circuits.

The 24th of September, 2017, was a definitive learning curb and monumental day for me in my aviation career. What was supposed to be a regular day of circuit flying soon turned into an unforeseen challenge.

The weather was marginal on that day, with gusts up to 20 knots and some showers, as the outer rainbands of a tropical depression were affecting us here in Hong Kong. However, it seemed safe enough to fly circuits at first glance.


After pre-flight, I immediately requested to not be sent out solo due to the weather. Nevertheless, my instructor and I decided that today would be a wonderful opportunity to test the limits of my ability safely under his supervision.

My instructor was comfortable with the conditions, however we were both aware of a squall line brewing to the south of Hong Kong that could potentially affect us. We calculated that we had at least 45 minutes before the line hit, and we assumed we’d be in the clear.


Heels to the floor, full power, RPMs in range, Ts and Ps in the green and as the aircraft passed 55 knots, I gently applied back pressure for a smooth take-off.

Almost as soon as I climbed above the tree-lines, the aircraft jolted to the right and I corrected instinctively. I remembered exactly how to respond during turbulence—focus on holding the altitude of the aircraft, don’t chase the altitude and most importantly don’t bust manoeuvring speed.

As I rolled out on downwind, the aircraft was thrown around in all directions. My body, with the absence of double shoulder harnesses, was also thrown around alongside as the rain and turbulence worsened. I struggled but managed to get my pre-landing checks complete and a radio call out. Despite my headset bumping the ceiling, in such turbulence one must remember that the priority is to always fly the aircraft.


Final approach was terrible, the turbulence made me delay my full flaps selection and I felt as if the aircraft was being tossed around. It occurred to me that I was way too flat as I flared so I applied more back pressure to establish landing attitude. Even so, it turns out that I was way too fast. I hit and bounced, holding the landing attitude before touching down once again. The conditions weren’t easing, and I really began to worry.

The rain and turbulence escalated and my headset fell off. The instructor took over as I tried to collect myself. It appeared the squall line on the radar image I saw before the flight was going to hit. I voiced to my instructor and knew that this was going to be a full stop.


Prepared and eager to land, I rolled out on downwind, least expecting flight operations to declare a runway closure for 5 minutes over the radio.

The rain became menacing as I flew at circuit height and held, pelting onto the windshield, and obscuring my visibility. My instructor, however, remained silent to test my decision-making skills.

Waiting for the all clear seemed like forever. Panic began to set in as I came too close to loss of control. “Don’t chase the instruments and hold the attitude,” I reminded myself.


My instructor sprang into action and decided to help me with radios. On base leg, I set the appropriate attitude for 75 knots and trimmed—I feel very fortunate to be taught how to fly attitudes instead of chasing airspeed, the emphasis on attitude flying by Learn to Fly helped immensely.

Just as I was about to turn final, 75 knots plummeted to only 65 and I sank like a rock. I just had a windshear of a 10-knot loss. Immediately I applied full power and performed a go-around.

On final approach, I focused on just flying by feel. The landing was hard; however, being back on the ground was all that mattered.


15 minutes after landing, the squall line came through with heavy thunder and rain. It was at this moment I realised the outcome of today’s flight was merely a testament to my good judgement under pressure in a difficult situation. My instructor and I were both safe after I made the decision to call it off. It reiterated to me that as a student, we have the right to make a no-go decision! Because despite embracing every ounce of optimism, even for the simplest of tasks, it won’t change the weather outcome.

This experience has only strengthened my decision making skills, and confidence as a pilot. Something that will surely benefit me in the coming months as I return to Learn to Fly Melbourne in November for more advanced flight training. Keep an eye on the Learn to Fly blog for more personal posts following my return to flying in Melbourne!

The Forced Landing: Case Study and Lessons Learnt (Part 1)

Contributed by Learn to Fly student Howard Lau.

On the 26th of February, like any other Sunday, I was sitting in the flight operation office here in Hong Kong. Little did I know, out there in the Tolo Harbour, a Cessna 152 was about to be at the centre of a whirlwind adventure involving a forced landing.

The man who sent me on my first solo flight in Hong Kong is full of wisdom and has a sense of humour in the cockpit. He shared the following flying experience on Cessna 152 with me, which I wanted to share with you now as a case study full of tips that will guide you on how to execute a forced landing.


At the time, we were doing some pre-examination exercises for students and we had just turned around towards the Shek Kong Airfield. The engine suddenly ran rough so I pulled the carb heat out and went full throttle, but it did not change the situation. I was thinking, “Is this my lucky day? Or a bad day?”; but really you don’t have time to think or even pray.


Obviously, I had three options:

  1. Go back to Shek Kong, but in that case I would fly over Tai Po and many buildings.
  2. Fly over to the dam wall (of the Plover Cove Reservoir), but it was 11.30 am on a Sunday which means many people were there.
  3. Fly towards Three Fathoms Cove.

I thought of those three options and discarded the first two options as they were populated.


I was thinking, “if I drag on too much or if I drag on too long, I wouldn’t have the altitude to execute my approach.” At this point, I still didn’t want to believe that I had to do a forced landing, and I still wanted to revive the engine and glide back into the airfield. Actually, I asked ATC for approval to climb above the vertical limit and they said, “Sure, no problem.”


The rule of the thumb here is to get a plan and stick with it. If you keep switching and your aircraft keeps descending, you will eventually be forced to simply land ahead, which usually does not go well at all.


I was trained to approach a field with an escape route to overshoot and go around in case something miraculously happens to the engine. The most important thing is that you have a technique to slow down. I can do S-turns to bleed off height and shorten the landing distance, and side-slipping helps as well.

I was at 70 knots, nowhere near 60, and I was out of options at the time. If I dived the aircraft into the golf course, I would gather up speed, which may result in a tumble and getting wet. So I spotted a relatively flat spot in the trees and I went for it, and with full flaps I hit the trees at around 45 knots, close to the minimum controllable airspeed.

Intentionally, I aimed between two branches so the wings would hopefully lessen the impact and it did. The left wing was broken off but we walked away unhurt.

Head to Part 2 to see the lessons learnt from this forced landing case study.

What to Expect From Your Trial Introductory Flight With LTF

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” —Leonardo Da Vinci

For many professional pilots, recounting their first flight was always most memorable. And for them, all it took was one flight see the world differently. Who says you can’t do the same? Learn To Fly Melbourne is here to open your eyes to the world above and make your dream to fly happen, irrespective of how little experience you’ve had.

When your chance to take the controls for the first time finally comes, we know you will be both anxious and excited to get started.

So let’s take a look at what you can expect from your first Trial Introductory Flight with Learn To Fly. Strap in everyone, we’re ready to go!


The Trial Introductory Flight starts off with a brief introductory course where you’ll build a basic understanding of aerodynamics and what you can expect during your flight. Use this time to really pay attention to your instructor, ask questions and voice any concerns you may have.


As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon that pilots are! However, you’ll find that once in the aircraft with the door closed, you’ll feel a sense of security. It’s a bit like being in a car; if you sat on the roof of the car whilst driving down the motorway, you’d be scared to death. But when inside the car with your seatbelt on, you feel quite safe driving at 70 mph.

If you’re not convinced, just remember that you’ll be in the safe hands of our instructors, you’ll always be learning from experienced, high-quality flyers!


Under the pre-flight inspection you will be shown the ins and outs of the aircraft, while the instructor inspects the plane. You can participate in the pre-flight inspection if you wish—the more you are involved the better!

You will be shown how to get in, how to strap in and the equipment in the cockpit will be briefly outlined to you, as well as the actions to be taken in an in-flight emergency. But don’t fret, your safety is our priority!


Up, up and away we go. For approximately 30–60 minutes, you’ll see the world how we see it. Peep out the aircraft windows at the horizons beyond, while our trained pilots safely guide you through flying.

The instructor will use the DEMO method, direct and supervise, to demonstrate a variety of manoeuvres and talk you through doing it yourself. This hands-on experience is an incredible feeling.


After having completed your first ever flight lesson, there’s no doubt that you’ll be full of excitement. How do you think it went? Your instructor will accompany you back to the classroom for a 30-minute post-flight debrief where you’ll have been assessed on your ability to complete tasks during the flight. But where should you go from here? Are we keen to go again?

Whatever you choose to do, the team at Learn To Fly will be here to help you every step of the way. The Trial Introductory Flight is not only for thrill seekers wanting a taste of flying but combined with our theory and training flights, it can lead towards your Recreational Pilot Licence or Commercial Pilot Licence. Who knows? The opportunities are endless!

For more information about booking your Trial Introductory Flight with Learn to Fly, and beginning your aviation journey, visit the variety of beginner and recreational courses on our website.

We’ll see you in the sky, good luck!

Tips to Pass the Recreational Pilot Licence Flight Test with Flying Colours

Every professional pilot once undertook and achieved their Recreational Pilot Licence flight test, at their own pace, and with patience and confidence. In general, students take from anywhere between 33 to 44 hours of training to receive their RPL.

It’s been 6 weeks since Learn to Fly student Carlos Oliveira’s first flight. After many flights out and about in our training base in Moorabbin Airport, Carlos is finally ready to have a crack at his RPL flight test. But what should he prepare for in order to pass his test with flying colours?

If you’re a beginner student and have found yourself in the same position as Carlos, you might want to listen closely!

So you’ve had your RPL theory exam and you’re ready for your flight test to be arranged? The CASA-approved testing officer will sit you in our office and run through how he’ll grade the test. It may seem daunting, but don’t stress, going for your Recreational Pilot Licence flight test really isn’t as scary as you make it out to be.

In flight, your testing officer simply wants to see how you can demonstrate the following:


The best way to do this is to make sure you give a thorough lookout to ensure you are in the clear before the turn. When you’re ready, hold the required amount of back pressure on the control stick so as to stay more or less the same altitude or level out in anticipation as you come back upon your original heading.


For this part of the test, your testing officer will want you to demonstrate stall in various configurations. Make sure you remember the HASELL checks—Height, Airframe, Security, Engine, Location, Lookout—and know how to identify the symptoms before entering stall.

Your instructor may also ask you to demonstrate how to recover a stall with a wing drop. If you make sure to use rudder rather than the ailerons, in opposite direction of the dropped wing, you’ll be great!


An integral part of flying—and your responsibility—is to be prepared for anything. To make a forced landing successfully, maintain control of the aircraft and select the suitable field. It is important to carry out all emergency checks. Conduct the passenger brief and mayday call, and always make sure to reassure the passengers that you are a trusted pilot and have been trained to handle emergency situations.


The testing officer will want to see your demonstrated ability to fly on instruments alone under the hood. To do so, ensure you stay within the +/- 100 of the requested altitude and +/- 10 of the requested heading.


The final part of your Recreational Pilot Licence flight test will have you demonstrate how to fly a squared circuit pattern and control your speed and altitude when doing so. Make sure you can also land the plane with different approach configurations, and manage engine failure after take-off and in the circuit. Remember your inbound radio calls as you return to Moorabbin Airport’s control zone, and congratulations, you’ve completed the test.

After passing the flight test, each student is qualified to fly within 25 nautical miles of the departure airport and carry passengers, including their family and friends. It’s a great opportunity to closely understand the operations of an aircraft cockpit.

The following breakdown of the RPL flight test table shows some of the key criteria students will be graded on during their flight test:

Remember that every professional pilot was once a student, itching to achieve their next milestone. Bombarding their flight instructors with questions about how many flying hours it would take for them to reach their First Solo, Training Area Solo, RPLPPL and finally, CPL.

However, we know that while flying does bring us that adrenaline rush, you need not be in a rush to attain each qualification. If you mess up any part of the Recreational Pilot License flight test up, remember that it won’t be the end of the world. You will always be able to have another crack!

For more information about attaining your Recreational Pilot Licence with Learn to Fly, visit the variety of beginner and recreational flight training courses on our website.

We’ll see you in the sky. Good luck!

Top 5 Ways a Flight Instructor Rating Can Benefit Your Pilot Career

If you currently hold a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and are wondering how to boost your employability in aviation, you can either do a Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating (MECIR) or a Flight Instructor Rating (FIR).

The Flight Instructor Rating is a genuine career starter. With it, you can start with Grade 3, and work your way up to Grade 1 or even Chief Flying Instructor.

Then, as an instructor, you can build your flying hours, which will make you more attractive to the airlines. This is just the tip of the iceberg so we wanted to share our top 5 ways a Flight Instructor Rating can benefit your pilot career.


The Flight Instructor Rating is required to be held by Commercial Pilot Licence holders to be employed as a flight instructor for the purpose of delivering training to students.

If you are interested in becoming a flight instructor, then you are in luck—flight instructors are in high demand right now and are expected to remain so for many years to come. It is an easy way to land your very first flying job.


Pilots choose to become a flight instructor for many reasons. It’s can be a dream job and a primary source of income, and it’s the next step on the way to becoming an airline pilot.

Airlines do prefer pilots who are equipped with a Flight Instructor Rating as the concepts that the instructing environment deploys are similar to cockpit resource management. Besides, check and training positions within airlines also require an FIR.

More than 2000 flight instructors who met the airline’s requirements have been recruited by the American airlines in 2017.


Junior Grade 3 instructors can build flying hours by teaching the next-generation of pilots how to fly an aircraft.

To become a qualified flight instructor, you are required to take the FIR program. You can choose to do either a Recreational Aviation (RA) FIR program or a General Aviation (GA) FIR program, or both of them. RA & GA dual qualifications can maximise your opportunities of landing a job as it allows you to instruct both RA and GA registered aircrafts.


An essential element to becoming a flight instructor must be your passion in instructing and teaching. Some people see the flight instructor job as a stepping stone as it can build flying hours for getting into airlines regardless of the learning experience of students.

This role is more suitable for pilots who have passion and patience in instructing and have better communication skills to teach students from different countries and backgrounds.

If you find your real passion in being a flight instructor, you can keep pursuing the higher levels of instructing, like Grade 2 or Grade 1 instructor, or a CASA approved testing officer. Some flight instructors eventually become the school’s Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) or even open their own flying schools.


Becoming an experienced flight instructor presents an alternative entry into the industry to that of a charter pilot and one that can also enhance your chances of becoming a check and training officer in an airline environment should your career take that direction.

Every flying position has a training element to it, from introducing a pilot to a new aircraft or explaining new rules and regulations. Therefore, a Flight Instructor Rating is practically always beneficial.

For more information about getting a flight instructor job, please check out: and explore our courses to pursue your own Flight Instructor Rating.

Forced Landings: An Alternative Technique

Contributed by Learn to Fly student Howard Lau.

Any pilot or experienced student will tell you that one of their nightmares must be the practice forced landing, let alone a real forced landing, and to complicate things further, there are a few alternative techniques a pilot may be instructed to follow.

Even though at Learn to Fly flight instructors offer impeccable pre-flight briefings and guidance throughout the flight, the prospect of undertaking this practice run is still enough to make anyone feel at least a little bit nervous.

If you, like me, find the technique involved with forced landings to be super fascinating, then I urge you to continue reading as I unpick and discuss traditional and alternative approaches.


A fundamental flaw in the traditional High/Low Key technique has been commonly taught in most civilian flying schools across the world. This technique depends on your judgement of the trajectory of the flight in order to somehow ‘nail’ 1500 feet by your low key position, which is normally abeam your IAP (Initial Aiming Point) on a downwind.



As a matter of fact, there are too many factors to process in order to clearly judge the altitude of our aircraft in a glide at a particular arbitrary point. It also requires the pilot to be extremely knowledgeable about surrounding terrains and the elevation of the terrain he or she is flying over, which sometimes can be challenging.


The Royal Air Force has developed a new Constant Aspect technique in order to combat the issues of different aircrafts and the requirements for some undetermined judgements.

The principle of such technique is that it removes all the guessing of altitude and descent angle, and it narrows down to one thing, which is called the “Sight Line Angle” (SLA). It is the perceived angle between the IAP of your landing field and the horizon. Realistically, all you can look at during the forced landing with this technique is ONLY airspeed and the SLA.



The SLA is the “Aspect” which is part of this entire forced landing approach, and the “Constant” is basically the entire technique itself. The ultimate goal of the entire pattern is to keep your SLA constant as you approach the IAP.


The first step to fly this approach is to pick a landing field within safe gliding distance and meet the criteria set out by your instructor. Next, you can choose a sensible IAP within the first third of your landing field. This will be the “fulcrum” where your aircraft will pivot during the entire pattern which ideally is a round pattern unlike the High/Low Key method with a rectangular pattern.



Ideally, you will join what is equivalent to a crosswind; however, depending on wind direction, it may be a direct downwind or a midfielder crosswind join into the “circuit”. It is important that your bank angle does not exceed 20 degrees during the approach otherwise you may risk the SLA either increasing or losing airspeed and glide ratio due to the reduced vertical component of lift and increased drag.

If your SLA is increasing (getting too high): Deviate from best glide speed or increase spacing. If your SLA is decreasing (getting too low): decrease spacing, fly inwards.

When approaching final, you must make the turn in to directly approach your IAP. This is the time when you decide, using your knowledge of the trend of your SLA, whether you cut in short, fly a standard final or overshoot and then turn back onto final depending on your height.

If the SLA is high, you have three options to get back onto glide path. You can use flaps, do S-turns or do a steep slip, or you can combine S-turns and steep slips if it is ridiculously high.


This technique is not only used by RAF but also being slowly accepted by flying schools around Europe and the UK.

It is recommended that everyone should practice the entire pattern all the way down into the flare and touchdown. You will find out, if you really are ridiculously high, you can still hold the slip into the flare, centralise the rudder when the aircraft sinks, and then continue to flare.

For more information about our flight training, head to our courses page.

VFR into IMC: Lessons Learnt

Contributed by Learn to Fly student Howard Lau.

When an aircraft flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) enters Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), critical incidents can occur. In most cases, this is due to reduced visibility or inadvertent entry into clouds, both of which happen because of the loss of the natural horizon.

Unfortunately, such incidents have cost the lives of many pilots. In fact, ‘Since 2002, more than 86% of all fixed-wing VFR into IMC accidents have been fatal.’ —AOPA Air Safety Institute


Before I began my pilot journey, I always seemed to find the time to read unfortunate accident reports where a non-instrument rated pilot on a VFR flight enters IMC. It is even more unfortunate to realise that many of these incidents become fatal accidents. The more I’ve read, the more I’ve tried to make myself believe, ‘It will never happen to me!’

For non-pilots, all of these accidents seem preventable. Personal minimums, reading the TAF and good weather knowledge are all valid and effective strategies to combat any similar occurrence from happening. However, today I will write about a time when this happened to me on a training flight and, most alarmingly, with an experienced instructor on board.


Before undertaking the task of writing it, I had been wondering about whether or not I should really share my story; however, I made my final decision to do so knowing that I might be able to help educate other pilots and learner pilots who no doubt think about these sorts of incidents from time to time. So here it is.


It was a very cold morning after a cold front came through the day before. I checked the METAR of Hong Kong International Airport and the forecast indicated cloud covers clearing and rising to 2500 feet with 9 kilometres of visibility. However, as I arrived in the flight operations office, we received PIREPs from other pilots of temporary visibility reduction to an estimate of less than 3 kilometres near high ground, which I knew could become an issue upon exiting the airfield area into the training area via a gap in the mountains.

The aircraft from previous slots were rocking the circuit and about to finalise their return. Skies above Shek Kong Airfield were clearing and let in some warm sunlight. However, the area towards the exit route (Kadoorie Gap) into the training area was still rather cloudy. I saw clouds on the other side of the mountains and thought this could really be an issue for our flight today—we had some instrument flying planned.


My instructor had nearly 40 years’ experience in the UK as an aerobatic pilot and warbird pilot. He also holds an Instrument Rating – Restricted on his CAA license—although on his Hong Kong license he does not hold such rating. Even so, his instructor rating allows him to teach basic instrument flying and tracking. On this day, despite the clouds, I put my trust in his judgement and was well aware of his capabilities since we had flown together numerous times.

We taxied out to the runway after our run-up checks, only to notice something very strange. Our slot was supposedly fully booked out with our entire fleet expected to fly; however, there was no action on the aircraft apron. I recall looking to my right as I prepared to shift into full power for takeoff and witnessing all the aircraft sitting idly, waiting for the weather to clear. Still, I thought there was no time to waste and we took off.

We climbed to 1500 feet and tracked towards the exit. As soon as we switched frequencies for traffic information service we heard a rescue helicopter saying, “Visibility deteriorating to less than 3000 meters.” I wasn’t sure where the helicopter was, but in retrospect, it really should’ve been the warning to turn back. We pressed on and exited out of the mountain gap and went on to “the other side,” where all the nasty clouds were, maintaining 1500 feet all the way through.


As soon as the mountains disappeared from my peripheral vision, my instructor and I realised that visibility was not 9 kilometres, as we had initially projected, and I could only see what was in front of us by looking downwards.

The only visibility I had was of the ground below, including the roads, trees and buildings of Tai Po. I looked back and realised that our only escape route back to the airfield would be obscured if we kept going. Just as I was about to turn back, it became apparent that my instructor had the same idea in mind. “Bring us back,” he said.


The direction indicator on that particular Cessna 172 is somewhat defective, so this meant I started my timer on my watch and began a rate one turn to the left. I timed for 1 minute, which at 3 degrees a second would be a full 180-degree turn. Fortunately, the mountain gap remained in view this entire time and I instinctively throttled up to return quickly. We were pushed even lower as we entered the airfield airspace, finally descending to 1300 feet. It was very uncomfortable watching the mountains on either side of me come so painfully close.


Of course, we were fortunate that despite this being a VFR into IMC incident, the visibility was still sufficient for a safe turn-back manoeuvre. Among the contributing factors to the success of this was the expertise of my instructor, who holds a restricted instrument rating in the UK, and the fact that at this time I had already completed an hour of instrument flight training.

After landing, and during the debrief, we narrowed the causes down to the ‘get-there-itis’ that occurred as a result of wanting to squeeze more instrument flying time in for me and also the fact that my instructor was instrument-rated and we put such confidence in his expertise. In retrospect, we shouldn’t have even left the ground in the first place.

This incident is proof that pilots with any amount of experience can be sucked into this veil of complacency and make decisions which go against rational and safer judgement. It is an incident my instructor and I will both go on to remember and I believe it is an incident worth sharing.

Safe flights everyone!

If you’re a pilot undertaking instrument flight training or are someone who is curious to do so in the future, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team and find out more about how flight training operators work to minimise the risks associated with flying in order to provide students with safe and productive learning experience.

Pursuing the Life and Career of an Airline Pilot

Contributed by Darren McPherson, our Airline Interview & Workshop coach and senior captain at a major international airline with over 30 years’ experience.

All pilots start somewhere: looking at planes, reading and dreaming about them—then actually taking that first step towards flying lessons and getting your pilots licence.

All through this time we look to the skies and continue dreaming about flying a big, shiny jet and working for some of the world’s best airlines. This dream and passion was and still is mine, as I’m sure it has been for other pilots I have met over the years.


Prior to working for the big airlines, I had the opportunity to fly all over Australia. I started my pilot career by teaching people to fly in general aviation. I then went on to work for some large charter companies and small airlines throughout the top parts of Australia. Working for these companies allowed me to see some of the most spectacular destinations in the country.


My experience working for a major airline also gave me opportunities to travel to Asia, and not just to fly some of the world’s largest and most advanced aircraft, but to experience numerous major cities on a regular basis. From the latest statistics, Boeing indicates that the growth of demand for the next generation of pilots is expected to remain high in the Asia Pacific Region. This forecast is great news for aspiring pilots in this part of the world, who I look forward to seeing embark on a journey like mine.


The experience that I have had from this flying has taken me from the warmth of an Australian summer to the challenges of flying around typhoons in Asia all in a single day’s work. This variety of destinations was a constant occurrence. On the next flight, travelling in a different direction to the middle of Alaska, I got to experience the extremes of a snow-filled cold winter.

This pattern or roster may appear fictional but was common within a typical month’s flying as an airline pilot. To have these experiences on a regular basis has shown that pursuing a career as an airline pilot has lived up to those imaginative, yet early stages of my flying dream.


The journey of an airline career and that of flying can be a long and interesting one, much like life itself. Would I recommend it to any dreamer who looks up at the sky? Reflecting on the flying, career challenges, places and people I have met, I do so strongly and without question.

Learn to Fly Melbourne offers a variety of programs and courses that everyone can master, from beginners through to intermediate and advanced learners. Go through the course list, find a course that really interests you and pursue it!

Airline Interview Coach Darren McPherson is Launching Pilot Careers

Senior Captain and Airline Interview & Workshop coach Darren McPherson doesn’t just conduct training sessions at Learn to Fly Melbourne, he also runs interview training through his own company, Aviation Consulting Services.

With 30 years’ experience in the industry, Darren assists learner pilots to pass their upcoming airline interviews and get the best start to achieving their desired outcomes in their aviation careers.


In the last 18 months alone, Darren has helped many students successfully get jobs at airlines. The results, as you can see below, are quite impressive — 52 students passed their airline interviews successfully!

  • Air New Zealand 12
  • Qantas Link 12
  • Qantas Mainline 5
  • Cobhams (Special Missions Dash 8) 3
  • Cathay Pacific (AE) 11
  • Cathay Pacific (Cadet) 4
  • Singapore Airlines (Cadet) 1
  • Skywest Airlines (United States) 4
  • Total 52

After students make it through the interview process they move onto the simulator phase. Out of that 52 students, 30 finally got employed by the airlines:

  • Air New Zealand 8
  • Qantas Link 2
  • Qantas Mainline 1
  • Cobhams (Special Missions Dash 8) 3
  • Cathay Pacific (AE) 7
  • Cathay Pacific (Cadet) 4
  • Singapore Airlines (Cadet) 1
  • Skywest Airlines (United States) 4
  • Total 30

As you can see from the information above, most students who passed their interviews went on to pass the simulation phase and receive a job offer as a result.


For an airline interview, preparation really is everything because the process is intense and it demands precision. It can take up to 6 months from beginning to end to secure a role at an airline and the steps along the way are rigorous—even the most confident students need to apply themselves to do well.

At Learn to Fly, we strive to do all we can to get students ready to break into the aviation industry and enhance their pilot careers. During each Airline Interview Coaching Session, Darren will give you tips and advice so you can:

  • Prepare your documents
  • Create a suitable, winning CV
  • Get your HR up to scratch
  • Enhance your technical knowledge
  • Understand all aspects of the pilot screening process


Learning in a small group with other students who are at the same level and from instructors who are supportive and happy to answer all of your queries and concerns works wonders when you need to brush up your knowledge ahead of taking your interview.

Don’t know all the methods behind IQ and psychometric testing? Not sure what will happen in the flight simulation phase? Need tips for keeping your cool? We are here to make you shine!


There is growing demand for pilots in the Australian and Asia Pacific region. In fact, Boeing forecasts some half a million pilots will be needed over the next 20 years. Therefore, you should make the most of it.

Best of all, when you train for your airline interview at Learn to Fly, you train with professionals who have worked across Australasia and know just what’s expected both in the interview and on the job.

If you have an airline interview coming up or are currently undertaking the Future Cadet Pilot Program, then check out the Airline Interview Coaching Session at Learn to Fly and find out for yourself why Darren is such a top-rated instructor and expert in launching careers!

Giving Departures the Attention They Deserve: Part 3

Contributed by Learn to Fly student, Howard Lau.

In this blog series, we have covered engine starts, taxi checks, run-up checks and more. Now it’s time to run through the final procedures for our perfect departure and take to the skies!

Use this Acronym

The proper acronym that applies whenever holding short is TMPFISCH and it is what I normally use for my operations here in Hong Kong. It goes like this:

  • T – Trims set to the appropriate take-off position
  • M – Mixture rich, master on and magnetos on both
  • P – Primer in and locked (or fuel pump off)
  • F – Fuel is sufficient for the coming flight and flaps are set
  • I – Instruments’ Ts and Ps are in the green range
  • S – Switches (landing and strobe lights on)
  • C – Controls full and free
  • H – Hatches secure and harnesses secure

When you do your controls part of this check, make sure your box the controls! That means to move the controls in a movement of a box and ensure you have still got adequate freedom of movement. You might have a mile long taxi and something might have jammed the controls. Never skip this check!

Deliver Your Safety Brief

The EFATO brief (Engine Failure After Take-Off brief) can be done at any stage before the take-off but I typically do it after run-ups. A normal brief should describe the actions that need to happen in the event of an engine failure at particular stages of the flight, such as during take-off; after rotation, below 200 feet and with runway remaining; above 200 feet with no runway remaining; and above 700 feet.

The brief goes something like this:

“If we have an engine failure on the ground, we stay on the ground. If we have an engine failure below 200 feet, we land on the remaining runway. If we have an engine failure above 200 feet, we land straight ahead or 30 degrees to the side. If we have an engine failure above 700 feet, we will turn back to find runway X.”

On a normal Cessna or Sling, 700 feet is plenty for a runway turn-back manoeuvre; however, during the turn back you MUST lower the nose to maintain airspeed and limit the angle of bank to 45 degrees. Never attempt a runway turn-back if an engine failure occurs below 700 feet!

Let’s Rock & Roll

Oh yes! You are lined up on the runway. You are oh so excited! This rush of sensations is normal for any pilot—it is exactly why we love flying! However, discipline must be maintained.

Ensure you are on the correct runway by looking at your directional gyro, which will indicate the correct runway heading. It’s also a good practice to cross-check this reading with the magnetic compass as well. After that, you should triple-check with making sure that the runway numbers are indeed the intended runway. Everything checks out? Good.

Now the take-off roll can begin. Ensure that your heels are on the floor and that you are controlling rudders only with the balls of your feet; this will ensure that you do not inadvertently apply the brakes! After you complete this, you should apply full power—smoothly but with purpose—and count 3 one-thousands before going all the way with to full power.

After full power is applied, check on the RPM. They should be reading at or above the stated minimum static full throttle RPM. At this stage, you should also check the oil temperatures and pressures and ensure that these are still sitting within the green range. Finally, you should check to ensure that the airspeed indicator is ‘alive’, meaning that it is indicating an acceleration.

At rotation speed, gradually apply back pressure and lift the nose wheel off the ground, allow the aircraft to fly off the runway and then adopt a Vy (best rate of climb) attitude to ensure maximum climb performance. Look outside! After obstacles are cleared and you are above 300 feet AGL, move the flaps to up and auxiliary fuel pump (if applicable) to off. You should once again check the oil temperatures and pressures.

And the results of following this? Another safe and beautiful flight!

Keep it Up

I hope this blog series has sparked a conversation and encouraged you to pay closer attention to departures and the nuances and intricacies of this crucial stage of flight. As pilots, we tend to always talk about the perfect landing. How about discussing the perfect departure?

That’s it for now guys! As usual, have fun and fly safe! Don’t forget to book in your next round of flight training with Learn to Fly Melbourne so you put my tips to good use!

Giving Departures the Attention They Deserve: Part 2

Contributed by Learn to Fly student, Howard Lau.

In Part I, I started to break down the way to execute a great departure. To continue, I’m going to tell you exactly how to proceed with your engine starts, taxi checks and run-up checks.

Perfect Priming

Safety first; crack open the window and say, ‘Clear prop’. Make sure you give people time to stand clear and scan the area before you move on with your other procedures.

Next, place one hand on the throttle and start cranking the starter, but for no longer than ten seconds each time. If the engine does not fire within 10 seconds, stop cranking right away and wait a minute so the starter motor can cool down. Try some light priming when you’re ready to have another go—it works wonders.

When the engine fires, release the starter promptly. If you’re flying a plane with a fuel-injected Lycoming engine, adjust the mixture to full rich.

Green Means Go

After a successful engine start, you will need to check that the oil pressure is rising (or has correctly risen) into the green range. This is crucial because oil pressure indicates whether metal components in the engine are sufficiently lubricated.

If oil pressure is not within the green range, shut the engine down immediately and report this to the engineer.

As long as the pressure looks good, you can raise the flaps (if left down after pre-flight), turn on the taxi and navigation lights, and turn on the avionics master switch. Only now should you don and adjust your headsets.

Eyes Forward

When taxiing, you should aim to minimise the time you spend with your head down—literally so you don’t bump into anything.

It has become normal for pilots to use GPS devices and iPads (used to run apps like OzRunways) in the cockpit. It is ironic, therefore, that when we attempt to program devices while taxiing we put ourselves at risk of having an accident.

The only exception I make to not doing things with my head down during taxi is to check the turn instruments. I like to quickly glance down and ensure that:

  • the slip ball is deflecting properly
  • the turn coordinator is indicating correctly
  • the direction gyro turns in the proper direction
  • the attitude indicator stays erect
  • the magnetic compass turns in the proper direction.

Remember This Acronym

I like to do my run-up checks using the acronym ‘CIGAR’. Here is how it works:

  • Controls – full and free and control surfaces deflect correctly
  • Instruments – all in the green range, the ammeter is charging and the suction is in the green range
  • Gas – check the mixture and fuel selector
  • Airframe – secure the canopy, doors and windows, and make sure your parking brake is on
  • Run-up – set the correct run-up RPM, check the brakes, check the magnetos, note when the RPM drops (on the Sling with the 912iS engine, one must check that both engine fuel pumps are working), pull the throttle to idle and ensure the engine does not seize at idle

After the run-up, the engine should be set to the ground idle speed as recommended in the POH.

That’s it for now guys! I’ll back with more next week and you can read Part 1 of this blog here. As usual, have fun and fly safe!

Giving Departures the Attention They Deserve: Part 1

Contributed by Learn to Fly student, Howard Lau.

Even in the early stages of the departure, pilots can fall into the trap of doing things by rote. That’s why I’m finally going to give departures the attention they deserve.

Walk the Walk

A successful and safe flight begins before you even turn on the master switch. It all starts on the tarmac as you approach the aircraft. This is when you should ask yourself lots of questions:

  • Are the tie-downs done properly?
  • Are the tyres inflated correctly?
  • Is there any pink hydraulic fluid around the aircraft?
  • Is there any blue fluid around the aircraft reminiscent of Avgas?

It has been scientifically proven that asking yourself questions is the most effective way to stay in the loop of information.

Feel the Wind

You should not only ask yourself about the aircraft or about the ‘now’ but also ask questions that will bring into effect a successful take-off. Personally, I like to ask myself these:

  • Should I use flaps or not?
  • What technique will I use for these conditions? Short field or normal?
  • Should I delay my rotation for density altitude, load or gusts?
  • What crosswind correction should I be using during taxi and initial roll?

These questions really are the basis for me completing a smooth and safe departure. They help me make sure I’m always ready to respond to new information. On that note, try to make sure you always pay attention to your surroundings. Feel the wind, look at the windsock, listen to the wind and feel the temperature on your skin. Forming attentive habits and looking out for these cues will allow you to prepare for a better flight.

Take it Easy

After a normal interior and exterior pre-flight check has been completed, and the aircraft is confirmed to be in safe working order, we can proceed to the engine start. My secret tip is don’t rush!

I’ve had the fortune to fly with the training captain of a major airline in Hong Kong, who is also a tailwheel aircraft instructor and aerobatic pilot. He said these wise words I will never forget, ‘Don’t rush because if you rush you will kill yourself one day.’ I could not believe the severity of his words given his experience in aviation! Needless to say, I listened to his advice.

Get Ready for Ignition

Before I start the engine, I like to plug in the key, and with the master switch off, I rotate the key to start and then release it. The key should immediately snap back to the both position. This is a simple pre-start ignition check that I learned during my time as an aircraft maintenance intern in Hong Kong.

What this check does is make sure that the starter motor does not engage when the master switch is off, the key locks into position properly and the spring mechanism works.

Prepare the Cabin

With the pre-start ignition check completed, I check the cabin. This is when you should adjust your harnesses and seats to your satisfaction, and keep a window or the canopy open. After ensuring that the propeller area is clear, flip on the beacon light switch and the master switch.

Look at your ammeter—it should show a discharge. Check your oil temperature to gauge the amount of priming required or (if it’s the Rotax 912ULS equipped Sling 2 or the Bristell at Learn to Fly) the use of choke. Ensure all circuit breakers are in and the avionics master switch is off.

Wait for it

One of my pet peeves at this stage is pilots who don their headsets before the engine has started. What if someone was trying to get your attention about an unfolding emergency? With the headset on, you wouldn’t be able to hear them. Instead, remove the headset from the dashboard and put it on your lap so you can have maximum visibility out of the windscreen.

A Rule of Thumb

Set the fuel selector in accordance to the POH and prime as required. After priming, ensure the primer pump is in and locked or, alternatively, that the auxiliary fuel pump is off. If the plane has a fuel-injected Lycoming machine, check that the mixture is set to full rich. If you’re ever in doubt, start with no prime. This will avert the possibility of flooding the cylinder heads due to excessive priming.

There’s more to come. Next week, I’ll be back with more advice on departures! I hope you have enjoyed Part 1. In the meantime, why not read some more of my flight training tips on the Learn to Fly blog?

What to Expect from Airline Pilot Performance Checks

Throughout your career as a pilot you will be asked to do performance checks. At Cathay, pilots must complete a flight simulator test every six months and a route check once a year to make sure they’re meeting standards. Failures do occur, so pilots need to keep their skills up to scratch at all times to pass with confidence.

Flight Simulator Tests

You will be accompanied by a partner captain and a check captain when you do your flight simulator tests. It is normal to be asked to do more than one simulation so that your ability to follow different procedures can be appraised.

The checks are conducted just as if you’re flying in a real airplane. The captains will throw problems at you all the time and you’ll need to respond swiftly and accurately in order to meet the standard. The questions they ask will often be phrased like, “What would you do if x, y, or z happens?”

Checks Improve Safety

Apart from appraising performance, these checks help pilots sharpen their instincts and prepare to manage during a crisis. Take an outstanding pilot like Captain Richard de Crespigny, who safely landed Qantas flight QF32 following an explosion in one of the Airbus A380’s engines.

He had confidence in his ability to fly the plane safely and had spent plenty of time studying the aircraft prior to the flight. As the captain has highlighted previously, Qantas gets their pilots to do four simulator tests a year. Checks keep knowledge of emergency procedures fresh in your mind.

Emergency Scenarios

A pilot will be asked about three major emergencies in their checks:

  • Fire
  • Engine Failure
  • Cabin Depressurisation

As you cross the ocean, you could be asked “what would you do now if you had an engine fire?” Or “what would you do if one of the engines failed?” There are procedures to follow, which you will be expected to recall right away.

These procedures are detailed. They are not only dependent on the cause of the crisis, but on things like how much fuel is on board, how far away you are from the nearest airport and what your destination is.

Preparing for the Unexpected

The answer always needs to be in the back of the pilot’s mind, because emergencies don’t occur when people expect them to. In fact they can often happen at the worst possible time and for that reason simulator tests are conducted regularly so you can practise and see for yourself how you are affected on different occasions depending on how well you’ve prepared and other performance variables.

Self Assessments

One of the best ways to prepare for the checks conducted by the airlines is to self-assess. Testing your knowledge of what to do in an emergency is a good place to start, because it’s not something that you get to develop in your normal flying routine –– thankfully!

A big part of being able to self-assess is putting lots of reading hours in, so that when you test your knowledge (of an aircraft for example) you’re simply confirming that the information has sunk in.

Investing your time in these small extra steps when you’re a student can set you up to have a much more rewarding career and an easier time upholding high performance standards.

Stay tuned for more blogs and of course help and advice for future pilots! If you’re interested in flight simulation you can learn all about how it works at Learn to Fly here.

Learning to Fly When You’re Over 30

Recently we were asked if thirty is too old to start learning to fly. This person had a goal to become an airline pilot. The answer is: DEFINITELY not!

Getting Your Licence

Let’s say you’re thirty. You can complete your flight training in two years or less. Most flying schools don’t expect you to complete your training full-time, so you’ll have plenty of flexibility to fit in your flying hours around your other commitments.

With your licence in hand you can become a flight instructor or charter pilot. In either position you will be able to gain flying hours, which will be your main goal if you are to continue to pursue a career as an airline pilot.

First Steps as a New Pilot

There’s really no need to rush to complete your hours or your training, but you should aim to be consistent. If you let the time you were spending getting some flying hours in drop, you risk losing some of your knowledge and technique. You’ll then need to put added effort into getting back on track.

Luckily, some great rewards lie ahead of you. When you have done enough flying hours you will be in a position to apply to work at an airline. It may have taken 3-5 years to complete your hours by working as a flight instructor or charter pilot and you might be 35 or 37 by now. You will still have about a 30 year airline career in front of you.

Becoming a Captain

As you break into your new career you might be offered a position as a first officer of a regional airline. It would be a good goal and a realistic timeline that you work as a first officer for 3-7 years before you receive a new title as captain. Amazingly, you could do all this and be just 40 years old.

Becoming a captain of a regional airline is huge achievement. Any pilot in this position will have ample cause to feel proud of their diligence and success. Some may feel content in their current position, or they could direct their sights to working at a major airline one day.

Working for Major Airlines

If you want to be hired by major airlines 750-1000 hours of captain time at a regional airline will be required. Let’s say you reach 1000 hours by the time you’re age 44. You will have over 20 years left in your career (maximum retirement age at Cathay Pacific is 65 for all new hire airline pilots).

You’ll also have an important choice to make. You can either stay at the regional airline and enjoy being a captain and all of the seniority that you have earned, or you can apply to the major airlines and start over as a first officer.

Realistically you might not have enough time to become a captain at a major airline, but as a first officer you will get to fly wide body international trips. There are benefits to both careers and it is a choice that only you can make.

Have fun and enjoy the journey!

If you’re over 30 and thinking about learning to fly, you can hopefully now feel confident that this is a great time to get started. You can find out what to do next by exploring our courses or sending a message to

6 Ways for Pilots to Maintain Proficiency & Safety

Once you achieve the Recreational Pilot License (RPL) or Private Pilot License (PPL), as well as any endorsement or rating on top of that, you must apply yourself to the task of maintaining proficiency & safety.

Commercial pilots do this by flying a lot of hours, but unfortunately a lot of RPL & PPL pilots don’t have this luxury, which means their skills decay over time. Here are 6 ways to make sure this doesn’t happen to you!

1. Know Thyself

For the sake of common sense and for safety, a pilot should keep analysing their performances and keep practising. More than anything, they should be aware of their limitations. It’s your responsibility to assess where you’re at at all times and compare it with where you aim to be. If you ever find there’s room for improvement, take the time before your next flight to prepare for it.

2. Show Safety in Your Attitude

Flying is an attitude and a way of thinking. It’s about one thing above all else, and that is a concern for safety. Turning up focused for the flight with an overriding emphasis on safety is a pilot’s job. It’s what will keep you on track to maintain your relevants skills and qualifications down the line. Even better is if you can start putting this attitude into effect while you’re still on the ground.

3. Watch the Weather

You can download the relevant weather from or NAIPS on a regular basis to see how it is expected to develop in the course of the flight. When you know what to expect from the weather you will automatically start solving related problems prior to the flight. It will set up your in-flight decision making for success and quicken your response time when adjustments are called for.

4. Refresh Your Knowledge

Proficiency and maintaining a high level of skill is all about doing what you can when you’re not physically in the cockpit, so you can prepare yourself for the next flight. For example, when a pilot doesn’t fly a particular aircraft for some time, particularly if it is a complex aircraft, they should study critical aspects such as speed, RPM settings & emergency procedures before flying again.

5. Seek Out Other Pilots

Refreshing your accumulated knowledge in aviation should always be self-directed, but this doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to other pilots to get support and advice. If you’re in doubt, ask an instructor at your flying school to test you on the spot or give you ideas about who to contact.

Although things like a check flight will normally be conducted by the flight school automatically, you must be disciplined throughout your training, so that you can later recognise when this is necessary and follow through.

6. Build up Your Ratings and Endorsements

Another way to maintain your proficiency is to go and get a new endorsement or rating, it can take your flying to a whole new level and benefit all areas of your competency to fly. While this training will add to your existing skills, it will also force you to go over what you have learnt already.

Enjoy the Ride

Pilots have no shortage of things to learn and all of this needs to be maintained in the long term. Hopefully your competency rewards you with better, easier flying experiences over time. Many pilots come to love the many small details in their regular procedures that allow them to exert an amount of control over a flight, which changes the technical success of every journey.

If it’s time for you to refresh your knowledge to train for a new rating or endorsement, the best place to start is with a look at our courses.

Training Beyond the Private Pilot License (PPL)

After completing your Private Pilot License you might wonder, “what’s next?” As strange as it may sound, you may in fact wish to do more training. For as a pilot you have never actually finished your training.

Freedom of Flight

Additional training after you receive your PPL will help you to fly different types of aircraft that are bigger, faster, have multi-engines, are tailwheel, or are seaplanes. This will really open up the world to you. In particular it will give you much more freedom when you organise recreational flying trips.

Top Rated Pilot

It’s not just about learning how to fly different planes. You can work on honing skills for which you will receive endorsements and ratings that add value to what you can do already. Some areas that might be of interest to you will be things like night flying, formation, aerobatics, and instrument based flight skills. The best part is it only takes about 5 – 10 flying hours for a pilot to complete training like this.

Linked Ratings

Some ratings and endorsements are linked to each other. For example, if you are planning to do your Command Instrument Rating or Private Instrument Rating, Night VFR (Visual Flight Rules) training can be a great introduction to it. Even if you feel like an rating is not essential after you receive your PPL, it is a great way to build your confidence and mastery of aeroplane and general flying skills.

Knowledge to Succeed

When a PPL pilot talks to us about additional training options, we normally suggest a reference text on the skills they’re interested in, and provide ground briefings to ensure they have sufficient knowledge to achieve the skills. As always we strive to provide you with education on the ground before you spend money on the air.

Lifelong Learning

It certainly is one the great things about aviation that you are given constant learning opportunities. Given the varied flying conditions in which pilots operate, gaining an endorsement or rating is no-brain route to telling everyone you’ve done your preparation and have grown confident in many aspects of flight.

Read more about Learn to Fly courses here

5 Ways to Make Flight Training More Efficient

As a flying school, we’re always thinking about ways to help our students get the most out of their flight training course. We believe it’s so important for students to be able to motivate themselves as they work through their training hours, and part of this is applying efficient learning tactics that keep everything progressing at a healthy rate.

Efficient flight training results in less money and time spent, as well as an overall boost in learning gains over a period. So from every angle there’s a benefit to the student who finds ways to learn more efficiently. Here are five to get the ball rolling!

1. Preparation

Make it a goal to come prepared. Student pilots who do preparation before their training get more out of their lessons. It makes sense that you have tried to improve your theoretical understanding of flying in between training sessions, you can more or less just work that into practice when you arrive on your training days.

Preparation can mean:

  • Doing practice radio calls
  • Studying theory
  • Knowing the flying pattern
  • Learning procedures at the training airport

Ask your instructor for details about your next lessons, and for ideas on any extra study that could help you get the most out of it. They will be happy to help!

2. Flight Simulation

Technology has a lot to do with efficiency. If your flying school has a Flight Simulator, you should be making use of it. For the first few lessons of flight training in particular, a Flight Simulator can help you get used to flying procedures. Learning these procedures in the simulated environment first means that time spent in the real cockpit can be used to test this knowledge rather than build its foundation, and it gives you more of an opportunity to hone other aspects of flying.

3. Teamwork

Find a peer to connect with over the course of your flight training. The enthusiasm generated between fellow enthusiasts becomes self-perpetuating and the interaction, both in the air and on the ground, can be highly motivating. If you’re generally quite hard on yourself, this is a great way to get another perspective on the training process, and greater boost from each of your achievements along the way.

4. Reflection

As a student, you should be thinking about the process of flying while on ground. This will help you to focus your mind during flight, and get used what to expect and how the flight should progress. It will also help you to get ahead of the aircraft when transitioning to different stages of the flight, such as from take-off to the climb and then cruise.

5. Look for Schools Offering Value

Look for a good flying school with high standards, and when comparing different schools think about them based on the value they offer you. Value doesn’t just mean finding the cheapest course. It combines quality of instruction, aircraft, facilities and of course, pricing. Find out if the school you’re looking at has instructors with a passion for mentoring others, and are not only accruing their teaching hours in order to get into other jobs. High standard flying schools all have one thing in common: they’re there for you, the student!

Are you thinking about the Flight Simulator we mentioned earlier? We’ve got one! You can read all about how it works here.

6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Flying School

So you’ve decided to follow your dreams and become a pilot? Congratulations! Now the fun can begin.

If you’ve got your sights set on becoming an aviator of the highest quality, then some thought must go into where you complete your flight training. Here are a few things to consider before deciding where to enrol to ensure your learning experience is first class.

1. What type of aircraft does the school use?

Learning to fly in the right kind of aircraft can have a huge influence on your confidence and development. Safety should always be on top of your list of priorities and if you’re an experienced pilot, choosing a school with aircraft that you’re already familiar with can help make your progression seamless. Lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft can also reduce the cost of training while access to the latest technology will ensure you’re up to speed with modern flying techniques.

2. Will you be taught by high quality instructors?

Flight training is vastly different from learning in a traditional school, so there are a number of special skills instructors must hold in order to carry out this responsibility properly. This includes:

  • Providing proper briefings and de-briefings — understanding exactly what is required of you and the areas you need to improve is essential to developing good skills.
  • Completing appropriate paperwork — training records, exam records, medical records and other documents must be kept safely in a file. Completing the necessary paperwork immediately after training flights is vital to ensuring training progresses smoothly.

Having access to senior instructors is also important. Only senior instructors are able to carry out solo checks, so a lack of experienced personnel can delay your progress.

Some schools have an over-supply of junior instructors or give instructors monthly flying hour targets which can lead to students flying in poor flying conditions and wasting time in the air. Ensuring your chosen school offers a healthy balance of junior and senior staff will greatly reduce this risk.

3. What facilities are offered?

A comfortable learning environment will ensure your attention is not diverted away from your training by frustration. This goes beyond just basic resources such as classrooms and internet, it should encompass extra facilities such as simulation which can improve the diversity of your training and further develop your skills.

It’s also a good idea to assess the services offered to make it easier to attend the school. Being able to reach the school via public transport, or having access to a pick-up service, will ensure you don’t need to worry about how to get there and can instead focus on the techniques you need to demonstrate when you arrive.

4. How is flight training managed?

There is nothing more annoying than unreliability. If a school constantly cancels or reschedules lessons, regularly changes your instructor or provides inconsistent training this can severely interrupt your progress.

Safety is another major element to consider, as appropriate Safety Management Systems need to be in place to ensure issues can be addressed promptly and appropriately if they arise. A school that is managed efficiently will provide all the appropriate administration and documentation to give you peace of mind, ensuring that you have all the support you need to thrive.

5. Where is the school located?

Location not only relates to the overall positioning of the school, such as at the airport, but also where the school resides in relation to the runway. If the school is positioned too far away from the runway you will need a lot of taxi time, which can cost up to $70 each time you flying.

Choosing a school in the city you currently reside in isn’t always essential, as you can study aviation pretty much anywhere in the world. Studying in a new city can give you a global perspective and expand your network of connections which will come in handy when you’re a qualified pilot.

6. Will you be made a priority?

It’s important to know that your school will be fully committed to your training and will not cancel lessons at short notice. Some flying schools give preference to charter operations or FEE HELP students over other casual flight training students, so it’s worth checking whether your flights may be cancelled under these circumstances. The last thing you want is your training being delayed because of a situation that is out of your control.

Deciding which flying school to attend needn’t be a daunting task, just take your time and consider every angle to ensure you find the spot that’s right for you. If you’d like more information about the training offered at Learn to Fly, check out our About page or get in touch.

Cathay Pacific Cadet Pilot Programme Stage 1A Technical Questionnaire

If you are planning to apply the Cadet Pilot Programme with Cathay Pacific, during Stage 1A, you will be given a Technical multiple-choice Questionnaire. Over the past few years, candidates were required to study the JKI Aviation Knowledge Booklet which was given by Cathay Pacific. Now this has been changed, all candidates are required to study the following chapters found in the ‘FAA – Pilot’s handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge – 2016’.

  • Chapter 4 – Principles of Flight
  • Chapter 5 – Aerodynamics of Flight
  • Chapter 6 – Flight Controls
  • Chapter 7 – Aircraft Systems (7-1 to 7-19)
  • Chapter 12 – Weather Theory

Please click onto the following link to download ‘FAA – Pilot’s handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge – 2016’

Please note that some questions about Cathay Pacific company knowledge will also be included in the multiple-choice questions.

Good Luck!

Airplane Talk | ICAO Aviation English

One of the first barriers to getting your pilot licence is passing the language test. Whether you wish to apply as a cadet entry pilot to Dragonair or Cathay Pacific, attain a Private Pilot Licence or even a Drone Pilot Licence, you will need to first pass the language test set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This test is known as the ICAO Aviation English proficiency test.

Why is ICAO Aviation English important?

Communication between air traffic controllers and pilots is critical to maintaining the safety of passengers and others around you, above and below. Aircrew operating on international routes communicate using both English and ICAO standardised phraseology.

ICAO introduced a standard for the English language that has emphasised proficiency in plain communication. Since March 2011, all civil international pilots have been required to obtain a Level 4 or above to retain or gain a professional licence.

There are six levels established in their Language Proficiency Rating Scale:

  • ICAO Level 1—Pre Elementary
  • ICAO Level 2—Elementary
  • ICAO Level 3—Pre Operational
  • ICAO Level 4—Operational
  • ICAO Level 5—Extended
  • ICAO Level 6—Expert

4 is the Magic Number

Achieving an ICAO Level 4 or above is one of the requirements when gaining a pilot licence. Unfortunately, this means that you cannot be considered by major airlines, such as Cathay Pacific or Dragonair, if this standard is not met.

At ICAO Level 4, six core language skill areas are assessed by ICAO:

  • Pronunciation
  • Structure
  • Vocabulary
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
  • Interactions

Your test results will be valid for a different amount of time depending on the level you reach. ICAO recommends that:

  • Level 4 is valid for license endorsement for 3 years from the test date
  • Level 5 is valid for license endorsement for 6 years from the test date Level 6 is valid for license endorsement for an indefinite period from the test date

Putting Your Skills to the Test

The ICAO Aviation English test can be conducted at our Learn To Fly Melbourne office. The test consists of the following components:

  • Personal questions – E.g. previous flight training experience
  • Listening comprehension – E.g. aviation phraseology in an emergency situation
  • Describing an image of conditions – E.g. runway incursion
  • Listening to a conversation and responding – E.g. conversation between pilot and air traffic control (ATC)
  • Watching a video and responding – E.g. engine failure
  • Conversing in English about topics related to aviation – E.g. your opinion about a current event or development in the aviation industry

Learn Aviation English with Learn to Fly

Learn to Fly offers an Aviation English Program to help you improve your Aviation English skills. This program is catered to students who do not speak English as a first language. It is also recommended for those who want to improve their Aviation English language skills in order to pass the test. It will help you to develop high-level listening and speaking skills in plain English for use in aviation-related contexts.

The program will include radiotelephony communication contexts in line with the ICAO Aviation English Language Proficiency Requirements and it will help students maintain their English language proficiency between tests.

For more information about our Aviation English Program or to book a test with us today, contact us at or 1300 LearnToFly.

University or Flight Training? | Pros & Cons of Aviation Pathways

Are you interested in flight training, but not sure whether you should attend university instead?

The good news is that the aviation industry is offering more flexible and viable options. You can choose different pathways to find that happy medium where you can focus on aviation to a degree that suits you. Let’s examine the options and a few pros and cons of each.

1. Aviation at University

If you are a current university student, you might feel unable to fully commit to flight training at the same time. There are, however, aviation universities and colleges with aviation programs – UNSW, RMIT, Swinburne are just a few examples. These institutions integrate flight training with your regular studies.

Pro: You’ll be able to immerse yourself in aviation, experience university life and exit with a reputable tertiary degree.

Con: Putting all your eggs in the same basket.

2. Uni One Day, Flight Training the Next

If you’re not 100% sure that a career in aviation is for you, why not split your study time between flight training and something else?

You can train for your Private Pilot Licence in your spare time. After obtaining your licence, you can decide whether you want to continue to be a pilot or pursue other professions. This enables you to have more options – to become a pilot, continue your university studies or even become a part-time instructor. Instructing others will solidify your understanding and help you build flight hours.

Pro: Diversity in education is a good thing. If, for some reason, you decide flying really isn’t for you or the industry takes an ugly turn, you’ve got a Plan B.

Con: You could be stretching yourself across too many activities.

3. Flight Training Full Time

You’ve had your sights set on becoming a pilot for as long as you can remember, so a specialty flight training school could be the way to go for you.

With specialised courses and experienced pilots working as instructors, you’ll gain the practical skills and connections you need to succeed in the aviation industry. There’s also the option of adding extra endorsements to your qualification as you go, as every course you need will be accessible in one place.

Pro: Dedicate all your time to developing flight training skills in an airport environment and learn from experienced professionals in the field.

Con: Narrower focus on aviation career pathways.

4. Try Before You Decide

If you’re interested in flying and getting a licence, but haven’t had any experience in the air, Learn to Fly also offers Trial Introductory Flights to help you make up your mind. Many people think flying is cool, but if you’ve never been up in a small plane, you really don’t know whether you will enjoy the experience or have the aptitude for it. Flying isn’t rocket science, but it does require a certain level of skill and knowledge.

Pro: This helps you decide whether you enjoy flying.

Con: Little to none – it’s a small investment to give you a taste of what flying is like!

At Learn to Fly, we would love to guide you on the way to your journey to the skies. Whether you want to learn as a beginner or aspire to become a pilot, we want to be there every step of the way.

To find out more information about our Trial Introductory Flights or how we can help you with your obtaining your pilot licence, check out our Courses.

4 Tips for Preparing For Your Airline Interview

By Darren McPherson, Aviation Consulting Services (ACS)

Having flown for a major airline for 20 years, I repeatedly get asked one routine question: “How do you become an airline pilot?” The common view is that you qualify for a pilot licence, obtain some flying hours, go for an interview and then the job is yours.

Chasing that dream job is a long and complicated process, posing a lot of challenges along the way. Once you gain your qualifications, the next step is to seek employment, which is going to be the hardest part of your career. I was once in that position and experienced a number of rejections or setbacks along the way. This has showed me one thing – preparation for the airline interview is of the utmost importance.

Start Preparing ASAP

With a limited time frame, having the correct preparation will be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful interview.

But you might be wondering, should you prepare now or wait until the invitation to the interview to start down that preparation road? Most candidates, either successful or otherwise, will also tell you: NOW is the time to start those studies.

Just like planning for a lesson, or solo flight the airline interview demands thorough preparation. The more time you spend preparing, the more confident you’ll feel when it comes time for the interviews. The various airlines I applied to in the early stages of my career followed a similar process, so your preparation will be valuable even if you are interviewing at a number of different airlines.

Expect the Unexpected

The lead times for some airline interviews can vary between a few weeks or months. In more recent cases this figure can be as little as a week, or in some rare situations the initial elements of the selection processes were completed in only a few days.

These varied and short notice time frames mean that prior preparation is undoubtedly vital. Upon receiving the phone call or email to come in for an interview the real race for research begins and the importance of your preparation takes over.

From my own experience with my current airline, the lead-in time before the initial interview was just over two weeks. This resulted in some long hours reviewing all the usual topics that a pilot will cover before any interview. But I found that the time I spent before being informed of the interview was invaluable, as I had a already had a firm grasp of the practice interview techniques and comparable questions when I got my invitation.

By taking this approach, and considering the interview earlier, I was able to eliminate that time pressure. This resulted in a more relaxed interview as I was more prepared, which resulted in a successful outcome for my dream job as an airline pilot.

Showcase Your Motivation & Determination

You can approach the interview questions and techniques in a number of different ways to lift your presentation as a potential pilot recruit.

Beyond your technical and experience base, a key factor is motivation and determination. These behavioural qualities drive us to self-improvement, with a desire to achieve not just the minimum standard, but develop further as time progresses. This key element will make you stand out from the crowd during the actual interview itself.

Last Words of Advice

When considering the factors behind interview styles, question trends and even individual techniques utilised by the various major airlines, the importance of interview preparation techniques and methods cannot be underestimated. For potential candidates, a lack of adequate time management has been a detriment to the outcome on a number of occasions.

This ultimately results in two well-defined types of candidates. The first are those who have arrived at the airline interview on interview day with little or no preparation. The second are those who have considered the vital skills required to successfully navigate the Airline Pilot Interview. This second group are most often the ones who leave the greatest impression and have the best chance of success not only in the interview, but in their future careers as airline pilots.

For more information on how we can help you prepare for your airline interview, check out our Future Cadet Pilot Program and Interview Workshop.

RPL vs. PPL | What’s the Difference?

It’s a common misconception that you must choose to between completing a Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) or a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) when you start flight training. But they’re actually two milestones on the same flight training journey!

So it’s less about which licence you choose, but rather how far you want to take your flight training. Each licence and endorsement you earn along the journey will give you different skills and expand your freedom when you’re up in the air.

It can be helpful to know what each licence entails so you can start planning your own flight training journey.

First Stop: Recreational Pilot Licence

A Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) is the starting point for your pilot training. Whether you are training for fun or for a career in aviation, the Recreational Pilot Licence will be your first major milestone. After that, you can go on to get your Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).

The RPL program will teach you basic flying techniques including climbing and descending, take-off and landing, dealing with emergencies etc. Every flight lesson will start with a classroom briefing on the techniques before they’re put into practice. You’ll need to pass several theory exams as well as complete practical flight training.

With a Recreational Pilot Licence, you’ll be able to fly as a Pilot in Command of a single engine aircraft under the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 1500kgs, within a boundary of 25 nautical miles from the departed airport.

Next Stop: Private Pilot Licence

After completing your RPL, you can continue on to get your Private Pilot Licence (PPL). The PPL training focuses mainly on navigation and will enable you to fly all over Australia.

During the PPL training, you will learn how to navigate to and from different airports. You will go through the following steps:

        1.   Take-off, navigate around the ranges and control steps 
        2.   Fly to a different airport and land 
        3.   Take-off and navigate back to the original airport 

Similar to the RPL program, you will need to pass several theory exams as well as complete practical flight training.

Once you have received your Private Pilot Licence, you will be allowed to act as a Pilot in Command and be endorsed. You will also be able to carry up to five passengers and fly all over Australia.

It’s up to you how far you take your flight training and you don’t need to have your journey planned when you first start out. But be warned, once you’ve gotten a taste for flying through the RPL it’s hard not to catch the bug and want to keep going!

For more information about flight training, check out our Recreational Pilot Licence and Private Pilot Licence courses.

How to Become an Airline Cadet Pilot

It’s that time of year when selected applicants are being offered placements in Cadet Pilot Programmes at airlines in Hong Kong and Singapore. The competition is fierce as every year the airlines receive thousands applications and of these, only 50 to 80 will become cadet pilots.

The applicants who are suitable undergo a special selection process to make sure they are qualified to become a cadet pilot at Dragonair, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Scoot or Tiger Airways.

Preparation is key if you want to give yourself the best chance of success throughout this process. So here are a few things you should know if you’ve got your sights set on becoming an airline cadet pilot.

Six Month Process

The process of selecting a cadet pilot is a comprehensive one that spans over six months from the beginning to the final stage. It ensures the high standards and professionalism of few select graduates as a qualified cadet pilots.

The applicants have to pass through several stages in the selection process that are designed to make sure only the best of the best progress to the training procedure. The selection process consists of a HR interview, technical interview, computer aptitude tests, medical examinations, psychological tests and spoken English tests.

Grades Aren’t Everything

Airlines aren’t only looking for someone who ranks at the top of their class academically. They are looking for a person who:

    -  Is well-rounded 
    -  Adapts easily to varying situations 
    -  Thinks quickly and logically 
    -  Has a wide range of abilities and interests 

Cadet pilots who are successful will be able to demonstrate their analytical skills, problem solving abilities and attention to detail. They are driven to achieve great results which makes them so effective in this field.

Practice Makes Perfect

Even if you lack the technical experience or flying expertise, you can learn everything you need to know at Learn to Fly Melbourne. Leave that to us and just bring your competitiveness, confidence and commitment. You will experience the most rewarding journey of your life and confidently make your way through the intense interviewing process.

The airlines are looking for future captains and not just cadets. One of our programs — Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP) — will teach you the objectives, goals, strategies, measures or OGSM and threat & error management straight from the first day of the training program.

Different to the other flight training programs we have, the FCPP offers a broad awareness of the entire aviation industry and a wide range of analytical skills. It will give a comprehensive appreciation of an aviation environment. Through this program, you’ll develop your:

    -  Flying skills
    -  Aviation English skills
    -  Breadth and depth of thinking
    -  Aviation problem solving
    -  HR and Technical Interview skills

But the most important thing is that you will start to understand all of the knowledge and aspects that regards the cadet pilot interview process. All aspects of the course are designed on details so you will not have any nasty surprises when it comes to the interviewing process.

Get Started

For more information about how we can help you realise your dream of becoming an airline pilot, head to the Future Cadet Pilot Program or Cadet Pilot Interview Workshop course pages. Or why not get in touch so you can chat to us directly about your next steps.

CFI Corner #1 | Handling Mid-Air Complications

When things don’t quite go as planned when you’re up in the air, that’s when all your training and preparation come into play. Here’s the story of one pilot who successfully maneuvered a safe landing after his right engine started to release smoke mid-way through his journey.

Flying From Melbourne to Ayers Rock

The pilot was newly qualified on Multi‐Engine Aircraft and had embarked on cross‐country flight exercises, to accumulate the PIC (Pilot-in-Command) hours to gain his Multi‐Engine Instructor approval. As a part of this hour building he had planned a long “fly away” from Melbourne to Ayers Rock in “outback” Australia (a distance of about 2000km).

Smoke and Oil in All The Wrong Places

The PIC was flying from Coober Pedy to Alice Springs at an altitude of 8500ft. This leg was over the desert, the temperature on ground was 40 degrees Celsius. At approximately 130nm south of Alice Springs the right engine began to produce smoke and then leaked oil from the right engine cowling. The pilot did initial troubleshooting checks and then notified Air Traffic Control (ATC).

After 20 minutes the engine performance had deteriorated (1300 RPM) and was running very rough. A large amount of oil sprayed through the top of the engine cowl and over the wing flap. The right engine oil temperature had exceeded limits. The pilot realised that the engine would stop and an in‐flight shutdown was imminent.

After completing the required procedures and checklists the engine was feathered and secured. The pilot continued for 90 nm (about 45min) with one engine inoperative to the closest suitable airport.

The live engine oil temperature began to rise above normal (green arc) operating range. The pilot opened the cowl flap on the live engine and descended to 5000ft. The aircraft single engine performance was maintained, despite being a very hot day. The pilot continued at this altitude to Alice Springs.

The pilot was outside ATC communication coverage so he decided to relay his communications (Pan Call) via an en‐route high altitude Qantas Jet to ATC. He then tracked on the 180 radial into Alice Springs and was cleared a visual approach to join base runway 12. He landed safely with a 15 knot crosswind on runway 12 at Alice Springs.

After landing fire crews opened the right engine cowl. Oil had sprayed over the fuselage and when inspected there was a hole on the head of one of the four cylinders.

The Root Cause

After engineering services had inspected the damaged/ failed engine it was found that the right hand engine no. 4 cylinder exhaust valve collets had failed which allowed the exhaust valve to enter the combustion chamber. This in turn forced the damaged valve through the upper spark plug insert and effectively punched a hole in the top of the engine cylinder. The engine was then running on three cylinders and leaking oil.

What Can We Learn?

The incident highlights that the correct use of standard operating procedures and checklists are there to assist a pilot to confidently handle any non‐normal events and hence increase the overall safety of the flight and its passengers.

Aviation regulators mandate the carriage of emergency equipment for flight through remote areas. In this case the presence of this equipment on board the aircraft (as a result of careful flight planning on the part of the PIC) was important in maintaining confidence.

When flying over inhospitable terrain, even in a multi‐engine aircraft, it pays to have considered your options for diversion to alternate airfields before you get airborne. If there are no alternative aerodromes, you will have to have know where your point of no‐return(PNR) and critical points/equi‐time points (CP/ETP) are based on forecast winds and actual fuel consumption/fuel remaining.

In this respect, the effectiveness of well delivered competency based training is of utmost importance. This scenario had been taught and assessed to the required standard and prepared the pilot well for such an event. Effective and validated flight training is a pilot’s main tool in not only handling the incident but also in making effective PIC decisions in flight whilst maintaining situational awareness.

This is testament to the fact that at the time the incident occurred the PIC utilised all possible resources including the tasking of his passenger to assist him in maintaining situational awareness by monitoring the engine for fire on the RHS. Crew Resource Management is a vital tool even when flying as a single‐pilot crew.

In addition the PIC had made the correct decision in the pre‐flight performance planning. He opted to reduce weight before departure in case of an emergency given the ambient air temperature and conditions. This proved to be crucial in the aircraft maintaining single engine flight performance to a suitable aerodrome without further incident.

Stay tuned for more helpful tips from our CFI at Learn to Fly Melbourne, Jordan Rogers.

3 Things To Do Before You Start Flight Training

Deciding to become a pilot is a thrilling time in your life and a goal that virtually anyone can achieve when you set your mind to it. But knowing where to start with flight training can be tricky, especially if you don’t have any prior aviation or flying experience.

If you’re a flying novice and are wondering how to get started with fight training, there are a few things you can do before enrolling in a full aviation course to get the most out of each lesson and ensure the pilot’s life is right for you.

1. Get Some Experience

Flying in a small plane is vastly different from flying as a passenger in a huge airline jet. If you haven’t had any experience with aircraft or aviation, it’s a good idea to enrol in a Trial Introductory Flight to get a sense of what being a pilot in a small plane is really like.

This will help you determine whether you have an aptitude for flying and gauge the level of skill and knowledge that will be required of you when you’re sitting in the pilot’s seat. With a more thorough understanding of what it takes to pilot an aircraft, you’ll be in a much better position to know whether flying is the right path for you. It’ll also ensure there are no unexpected surprises on day one of your course.

2. Do Your Homework

We’re lucky to be living in a time when there is a vast amount of information available at our fingertips through the internet, so don’t be afraid to use it! A simple Google search can help you better understand the fundamentals of flying such as aerodynamics, weather and the basic physics that make flying an aircraft possible. This will give you a good introduction to the complexity and range of aviation concepts you will need to master to succeed as a pilot.

It can also be a good idea to read up on the journey to becoming a pilot including the types of licences available. You can start by researching the Recreational Pilot LicencePrivate Pilot Licenceand Commercial Pilot Licence. This will show you the range of training options available so you can decide whether you’d like to pursue a pilot licence as a career or hobby.

3. Plan Your Training Path

Once you’ve made the decision to enrol in a flight training course, the next step is to decide whether you’d like to pursue an aviation career or just fly for fun. If it’s an aviation career you’re after, it’s a good idea to research the cadet pilot programs at different airlines and assess:

-  Is the program available to you? 
-  What kind of applicants do they accept? 
-  Do you meet their criteria? 
-  What other options do you have if you're not accepted? 

You might also consider completing a Future Cadet Pilot Program or Interview Workshop to give yourself the best chance of acceptance into an airline cadet pilot program.

If you plan to fly for fun, do some research into the aviation schools in your local area and look into their Recreational Pilot Licence program. Designed for people with little to no flying experience, this is a great starting point for anyone wanting to fly for leisure. Check out what is included in the course, such as theory, simulation, hands-on training and types of aircraft, to ensure you choose the best option for your needs and budget.

Flying is an extremely exciting career and doing a bit of groundwork before you begin your course will ensure you get the most out of every single day!

For more information about flight training options, head to our Courses page or get in touch.

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