Meet some of the Melbourne Heli students, past and present. Read about their motivations and the ups and downs of training (all puns intended). Featuring a solo story from former CPL student, Michael. View it here.
James White. Gisborne, Victoria
I've always had a love of Aviation. My father worked at the airport for 40 years, so I grew up surrounded by people working in the industry and I've always been someone who preferred to turn my head to the sky as opposed to the ground. These things coupled made me decide to book in my first flight with Chris. It was love at first flight and I've been here ever since.
Heath Armstrong. Melbourne, Victoria
From an astronaut, to a fighter pilot, to a helicopter pilot, my eyes and goals have always looked towards the skies from a very young age. There is no aviation background in my family but certainly an upbringing of goal setting, hard work and great family support has helped considerably. I chose to become a helicopter pilot in 2016 and have worked towards this ever since. There have been plenty of hurdles and challenges along the way which will hopefully make the end result even more satisfying. I am very active in Lifesaving and hope to combine my passions for lifesaving and aviation and ultimately fly in the SAR/HEMS sector. I'm looking forward to the journey wherever it takes me!
Studying my CPL at Melbourne Heli has been great. The place is really welcoming and supportive and the instructors are excellent. It will be a bitter-sweet day when I complete my CPL and move on from Hanger 7.
Rene Baudet, Commercial Pilot
Today I've been out with loads of passengers wanting to experience the local sights in the middle of the red centre - the true outback and heart of Australia. I fly around the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Ranges.
I'm living my dream. It seems like a lifetime ago I completed my licence, even though that isn't quite accurate. It all started with a visit to Melbourne Heli, only a few minutes away from my old work place in Essendon Fields, in April 2017. An introductory lesson with Todd was all it took and I was hooked. From then on I was a regular customer at Melbourne Heli, who diligently and very patiently introduced me to the world of flying helicopters and the pathway to becoming a commercial pilot.
Gary Sheppard. Melbourne, Victoria
My interest for helicopters came from watching nose over attitudes, hearing the roaring sound of turbine engines, and the smell of Jet A1! I was going to be a pilot no matter what it took. Achieving my CPL was never going to be easy like my first hovering lesson, as I was never academically gifted throughout school. The exams tested me multiple times but if you want it bad enough you will make it happen.
Best moments of my life was the day I achieved my Commercial Helicopter License and the day I took my old man out to swing a blade.
Ewan Carter. Ascot Vale, Melbourne.
Passed school, in the average, and completed a carpentry apprenticeship and Drafting Diploma. From there, progressed to Leading Hand Carpenter and 10 enjoyable years on the tool belt in residential renovations and extensions across Victoria, all with a killer T-shirt tan.
The broken record of, 'have always wanted to fly since I was biting ankles' applies here. With a family who is heavily involved in the aviation industry and more than likely flying you on your last holiday, the choice seemed obvious. But they are fixed wing supervisors. Helicopters, with their capability and versatility out in the field, have always struck a chord and inspired me to eventually be a part of the more working applications side of aviation. My first TIF fuelled my spark, and turned it to wild fire.
Currently studying at Melbourne Helicopters for a Commercial License and nearing completion. From here I would like to build on my training, gain more ratings and importantly, experience, in a number of different roles as a commercial pilot. Ultimately? I will fly a HEMS/SAR ship or in a Military Aviation capacity, but not before I enjoy the journey.
Adam Bailey. Melbourne, Victoria
Like many I’d always had a fascination with flying as a kid. Being a pilot was a childhood dream of mine and I’ve always said that one day I’ll own my own helicopter. It wan’t until my girlfriend (now wife) bought me a trial flight that I realised how accessible getting your private licence actually was. I still don’t own my own, but I aim to just keep chipping away at getting more experience and endorsements, just because I like the challenge and it take me away from day to day business. Most of all it is just a bunch of fun for me!
David Booth. Melbourne, Victoria.
As a kid growing up during the Vietnam war, most nights, the TV news featured film clips of the amazing Huey helicopters being flown in combat and rescue missions in the war. It was these images that whetted my desire to be a helicopter pilot.
However for 40 years, other things (education, marriage, family, mortgage, career etc.) took a priority in my life and it looked like my dream was never going to be realised. But about 10 years ago things changed. The kids had grown up and become independent, a successful career had taken care of most financial pressures and my desire was reignited when I was given a Helicopter Introduction Flight for my birthday.
It only took a few minutes at the controls to realise that this was something I really wanted to do. Some months later, in Port Melbourne, I passed a sign on the fence at the now defunct Pier 35 Helipad; “Learn to Fly Helicopters at Melbourne Heli.” So I made the call and a few days later met with the Chief Instructor. He took me through the requirements and told me what to expect.
So in Mid-2012, my flight training in the R22 started. At first it was tough. Learning to hover seemed to take an inordinate amount of time, but with practice and reassurance things progressed. Eventually I migrated to the R44 and clocked up the hours, experience, knowledge and expertise to pass the flight review and the written exams. There were great days and some not so great days; but all in all it has been a brilliant experience and every time I fly I marvel at the incredible machinery that is under my control.
I learned to fly, without my family even knowing what I was doing. So the biggest thrill was the day my wife discovered I had become a pilot, when I took her for a city scenic. It still rates as one of the best days of my life. (click here to see the flight - https://youtu.be/NnYDrtWhFzs )
Being a PPL helicopter pilot is awesome. Not only is there the thrill of soaring across the skies, but the delight in sharing that experience with family and friends is unbelievable. It has been a wonderful experience and I hope to continue to fly for many years to come.
Ash Towie. Manjimup, Western Australia.
I began flying in 2013 with Melbourne Heli and completed PPL in 2016 whilst working as a viticulturist with vision to change careers and go cattle mustering.
Before completing my PPL I inquired about work on a cattle station that I had previously worked on that gave me my passion for the machines I now fly which I was lucky enough in obtaining a job there. We muster up to 45,000 head on two different properties and have two R22's doing a combined 1200hrs a year. Before obtaining the mustering endorsement I was required to ferry machines around and also do numerous hours on duals to understand cattle and the terrain. A dream come true!
Kevin Spiteri. Melbourne, Victoria.
I have always had a fascination with Helicopters.The fact that you can hover in mid-air and put it anywhere you like (I just knew I would be doing this one day).Now here I am in control of a machine, defying gravity.I can’t wait to see where this next chapter in my life leads me.