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Time to change careers from finance to aviation? Lachie thought so

Diploma of Aviation - My Experience

by Lachie Boyd

Biting the bullet…

After about 10 years of being in the banking industry, I was ready for a change and to be honest, I hadn’t thought too much of aviation, purely on the basis of thinking I had to be a rocket scientist and study for 5 years, but I had a general interest of aviation due to my grandparents, and their input that they have had with the Colac Aero Club. When I came across TVSA on social media, I was intrigued.

So, I looked into studying the Diploma of Aviation with TVSA. I was really surprised to find that I could go from nil experience to a Commercial Pilot with a Diploma of Aviation within 12 months. Cool, this could work!

I arranged a visit to the school and just wanted to have a look around. To be honest, it was the Head of Operations – Annie Corcoran that made me want to complete the training at TVSA. She spoke passionately about her love of teaching, and the aviation component complimented her want to teach. She was quite inspiring. If you don’t know Annie, our conversation went for 10-15 minutes, and I probably got 10-15 words in the entire time.  It was clear, she loved what she did.

Done. Sign me up. I resigned from the bank and became a student.

“Sometimes, not knowing what you’re doing allows you to do things you never knew you could do.”

I’ll start with this, I had nil experience. That may have been my biggest fear when I walked into school for the first time. I was a bit worried of being the only guy in the classroom that wasn’t an Av Geek. But I walked in, said g’day to few people, put my books down next to (my now good friend) Albert Molina, opened up my Aviation Theory Centre – RPL Textbook and began reading.

The flying comes along with it. My first flight was August 28, 2018. 
I remember it as clear as day. The flight was with Ash Miller and I genuinely could not wipe the smile off my face.

Training is broken down into 3 phases:

  • Phase A – Ab-Initio Training
  • Phase B – Navigation Training
  • Phase C – Solo Hour building and Commercial Navigation

Phase A
It was very busy. Reflecting back on it, it was always going to be.
I had a lot to learn, and to get a Diploma of Aviation in 12 months, you need to apply yourself and stay busy! Theory and Practical components for each lesson, plus the study in between. It meant studying at school and at home.

First Solo came on October 11, 2018 and Phase A was completed on December 6, 2018.

No rest for the wicked, straight into theory training for navigation. 

Phase B

Again, Phase B was a very busy period. 

Preparing for a Nav was really important. The more preparation I could do on the ground before a flight meant the more prepared I was in the air.

My first nav, YBSS – YBLT – YOLA – YBSS// with Ash Miller again, was December 26, 2018. It felt like an information overload going through everything new for the first time as well as flying the aircraft, but so much fun getting out of the training area.

Nav 2 came soon after, the following day. It was one that I remember very clearly. 45 degree day, I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much in my life. Poor HCY had to work hard that day. 

But flying consecutive days, I soon realised how important it was to prepare for each flight as much as possible, both physically and mentally. Flying is by no means a cheap hobby, so I guess I thought it was important to invest my time wisely.

My first flight into Essendon has to be one of my favourites. I can’t exactly remember the debrief with Ash after that flight, but I can guarantee radio calls was one of the points to work on. I was 100% not ready for the human on the other end of the radio to speak back at me. It blew my mind. Feedback was constructive so it gave me something to really focus on. I think I just hated the sound of my own voice on the radio. I sound too Aussie!!

But the rest of the process was a great learning experience as well and I loved every minute of it.  Throughout Phase B, I flew with various instructors. Ash Miller, Jerome Wong, Travis Fox, and Michael Acella.  All with varying talents and tips which was great for development.

Phase C

I finished Phase B in mid-April of 2019. By this point, I had passed 6 of my 7 CPL subjects with just performance to complete.

The study for each Commercial subject was intense, as we were studying for a week then completing an exam. This meant long days and nights of study, as well as completing assignments.

Hour building was heaps of fun. Possibly one of the coolest ways to see Victoria in my eyes. Flights to West Sale, Echuca, Wilsons Prom, Warrnambool, City Orbits, all highlights and highly rewarding.

Ticked off CPL Performance in June 2019. CPL Theory credit, check.

The CPL dual flights ramped up a gear. 90 minutes of preparation went by really quickly. You really have to be very fluent in what you are doing by this stage. Knowing what you can and can’t do in a short period of time.

Then the training for the Arrow. Retractable Undercarriage and MPPC were really cool to learn, and I enjoyed flying in WIN. My CPL Navs were a combination of flying with Ash Miller and Dan Hadler, both teaching me a lot through phase C. 

Phase C took me from mid-April until August 29, in readiness for my flight test.

The Test

Yep, like most big events, tests, sporting finals etc that I’ve ever been involved with, I was super nervous.  Not a bad thing though.

Lawrence Gillett was my testing officer, and as if I was nervous enough, he rolls in with his vehicle registration plate “ITESTU.” Intimidating much??

He is a very experienced, reasonable testing officer. I completed the theory component and was happy enough with how that all went, with the flight to follow the next day.

Flight day – I had beautiful weather so I can’t complain. The flight itself went well, well enough to pass I guess. Couple of classic testing officer moves to make you double check yourself but I stuck to my guns which worked in my favour, and there it was. Commercial Pilot Licence on September 3, 2019.

I left a stable career in finance, to go and study something which I grew a passion for, and I don’t regret any part of it.

If you are interested in following Lachie’s footsteps on your path to a CPL, click here to find out more about our current Diploma offerings.

Interested in where Lachie’s training has taken him? Keep an eye out for a future blog post to find out!

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Pilot Jobs Post-COVID

Want to work as a pilot but worried about the impact of COVID?

Now might actually be the best time to start your training.

Think about this:

  • by the time you are ready to look for a job, the industry should be recovering and more jobs available.
  • it’s not just about the big international airlines. With international travel slowed down, people are looking for more local activities to do… a great way to build experience is through charter and scenic flights – just what people are looking for right now.
  • air cargo is still a vital part of global infrastructure.
  • many airline pilots that have been put out of work by the pandemic won’t return to their jobs when it’s over, leaving a pilot shortage when the industry does eventually recover. Some have gone into early retirement, some will be too close to retirement age by the time the jobs are available, and some will have just found something else they enjoy more. A younger generation of pilots will be needed to fill the gaps.

The aviation industry, like many others, has cycles. It’s affected by a number of things, like natural disasters, terrorist attacks, politics, global finances, and, most clearly displayed at the moment, diseases.

This isn’t the first time the aviation industry has been impacted by disease. You might remember the SARS outbreak in 2003, or avian and swine flus in 2006 and 2009.

But it bounces back.

FlightRadar24 data shows that, globally, the industry is slowly recovering. From almost 110,000 flights a day in February 2020, the pandemic saw a drop to around 24,000 flights a day in May – but back up to 80,000 a day in December 2020 (Dube et al 2021).

Air cargo dropped only 8%, and had almost returned to pre-pandemic levels by November 2020 (Pearce 2020). Now, air cargo is operating 9.4% above what it was in May 2019 (Gulbas 2021). In November last year, IATA predicted air passenger travel would return to 2019 levels by 2024 (Pearce 2020). Global domestic recovery is already proving strong, with kilometers flown down only 23.9% compared to May 2019 (Gulbas 2021).

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise that new strains and ever-changing border restrictions, health guidelines, and vaccination rates will all continue to impact the industry until a “new normal” is achieved.

There is, however, a sense in the industry that it is not a matter of if a pilot shortage will occur, but when. While no one can predict the timeline, if it’s something you’ve been thinking about for a while, why not now?

One thing seems certain, airlines won’t have the spare cash to pay for the training of new pilots for a while. Cadetship programs will be slow to start up again. Individuals are going to have to invest in themselves if they want to be part of the next generation of airline pilots.

Whether you’re looking for a career change, or your next step after school, TVSA is proud to offer several finance options to help students invest in their training. Please check out our Finance tab or contact us for more information.

TVSA offers CPL training under a couple of course options. You can find out more about our Nationally Accredited Training courses here, or give us a call to discuss which training pathway might be best for you

References & Other Resources:

Czerny, A.I., Fu, X., Lei, Z., & Oum, T.H. 2021. Post pandemic aviation market recovery: Experience and lessons from China, Journal of Air Transport Management, 90,

Dube, K., Nhamo, G., & Chikodzi, D. 2021. COVID-19 pandemic and prospects for recovery of the global aviation industry, Journal of Air Transport Management, 92,

Gulbas, E. COVID-19 Air travel update: Optimism with caution, IATA Economic Report, July 2021

Murray, G. After COVID-19, Aviation faces a pilot shortage,

Pearce, B., Outlook for Air Transport and the Airline Industry, IATA Annual General Meeting, November 2020

International Air Transport Association (IATA) COVID Resources page:

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) COVID News page: