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Student Spotlight: Haydn Fletcher (part 2)

Study tips, from someone who's been there

By Haydn Fletcher

If the thought of studying makes you break out in a sweat or worse, perhaps now isn’t the time. Learning to fly demands commitment.

Dare I say it? Flying is “easy”.

The more difficult and time-consuming part is theory. You should not underestimate the time and study commitment needed. I have heard some people say for every hour of flight, you should be doing 3-hours of theory. I disagree. Double it. At least to start with.

At the time of writing, I am undertaking lessons to gain the Recreation Pilot Licence with the hope to continue onto the Private Pilot Licence. Whilst I am still learning the fundamentals, perhaps the number of theory hours required may reduce. At this stage, however, there is a lot to take in and process so I am ensuring theory time is high.

There are several things I recommend which may assist and work for me.  Importantly, know how you learn. I am not one to simply read a book and know how something works. I also need to touch, listen or see something in action.

Leading up to starting with TVSA, I had already purchased and read the entire Aviation Theory Centre Basic Aeronautical Knowledge book, you could easily read the Bob Tait guides also which is what TVSA recommend. I also pre-purchased and read the TVSA Flight Training Manual (FTM) and completed the questions in the first five chapters before starting so I could be well prepared leading up to flying lessons.

I also watch countless YouTube videos; from pilots “doing stuff” to deep theory on particular topics. Whilst driving or walking the dog, I am listening to podcasts on aviation and using any of this spare time to pick up what I can. I had been watching and listening to these for months before starting and continue to do so, there is so much content available and you just don’t know where you will read, hear or see vital information!

You will get plenty of active learning in the sky and applying the theory so do as much as you can leading up to each lesson. I complete all the pre-reading and questions in the FTM leading up to each lesson and ensure I revisit the night before or morning of a lesson to know what to expect, and importantly any gaps in my knowledge. You will be expected to know in detail what you are in for. The instructor will be grateful you have studied, and you can utilise the time in the air rather than on the ground.

There will be challenging and frustrating times, however, I am enjoying every moment of it and can’t wait to continue learning so I can get out and about. Wherever. Whenever.

Commit to the experience and have fun!

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Flexibility key for Aidan’s aviation career

My Experience as a TVSA Diploma Student

by Aidan White


Since the age of 3, I’ve been set in my ambition to become a pilot. I grew up making model aircraft, going to air shows and playing flight simulator games. I started my flight training journey in 2017, as a year 11 student; after attending TVSA’s open day. After visiting the campus, meeting the staff, and embarking on a half-hour flight in a then-brand new Bristell, I was completely hooked.

I immediately made up my mind that after high school I would enrol in an aviation course. I also got a head start in my training and conducted some recreational flying with Leading Edge aviation (TVSA’s RA Aus partner) while I completed year 12.


While attending TVSA’s open day, I learned about FEE HELP and the ability to pay for my flight training through it, via TVSA. I was overjoyed to learn that I wouldn’t have to spend years saving up, only to crawl through my flight training, booking a lesson once a fortnight. Instead, I could fly now, get my CPL within 10 months and not have to worry about paying anything back until I had a stable income.

After graduating high school, I completed my RPL with a different flight school.

I enjoyed flying there and it was a good school. However, when I started my PPL training with them, I would only be assigned one or two nav bookings per week due to the way the course was designed to balance Uni subjects with flying. Due to bad weather, my only booking for the week would frequently get cancelled, and I’d repeatedly face a week’s wait to be re-booked.

Their course, despite being well taught, with fantastic aircraft and equipment, was completely inflexible and unable to account for delays or any unforeseen circumstances, of which, 2020 provided in generous quantities.

I ended up going over a month without a flight, and then the Covid pandemic struck. At this point, I was sick of the delays and felt as if my course would take twice as long as necessary. I dropped that course before census and transferred to TVSA in early 2020 and my experience has been nothing short of fantastic since. I have zero regrets. When the team restructured the diploma during our 7-month lockdown, so that we could get most of the theory out of the way while we were stuck at home, I knew I had made the right choice.

In TVSA’s Diploma, there is no wasted time, and the staff do an incredible job of readjusting to any unforeseen circumstances. The course is dynamic and adaptable.

If we have a lockdown or a week of bad weather, within a day, the staff will have come up with a plan to conduct theory during the week, if the weather is excellent, sometimes we can complete up to 6 flights in a week. I simply cannot think of any other part 142/ diploma or degree flight school that offers this level of common-sense adjustment with no wasted time.  A testament to the efficiency of this course: after the 7-month lockdown of 2020, which made up more than half of our entire allotted course duration; the restructuring of theory delivery by the team allowed me to complete my diploma only a month and a half behind schedule, despite spending 7 months stuck at home!

I’m now studying for my IREX while awaiting my CPL flight test. Some of my friends at my old school haven’t even completed the PPL portion of their flight training, despite starting at the same time as me!

TVSA’s instructors are also fantastic to fly with. All the instructors I’ve flown with at TVSA, both GA and RA, are highly professional, have their own unique strengths and insights, push you when needed, with the bonus of all being great people to chat to and engage in some light-hearted banter with!

Most importantly, the flying itself at TVSA, is fantastic too!

During my solo hour building, we students were provided with a great deal of trust in selecting where we wanted to go, and in making our own decisions.

Other flight schools sometimes place heavy restrictions on where they let their students fly solo, TVSA trusted us, and after having our route checked over, and our decisions based on weather cross checked, we were able to fly to some fantastic places! I personally got all the way into South Australia on my longest solo, flying to Mt Gambier, and then a little bit further. I’ve also landed at Avalon, unimaginable at a lot of flight schools. Some of my friends, on their long solo flights, chose to go to places like Canberra and Merimbula!

Challenges I faced as a student/ my advice for any new students:

Like anything else, this course can be challenging at times! Firstly, students need to understand that this is an intensive, 5-day a week course and requires a full-time commitment. Indeed, you may need to sacrifice components of your social and work life in the process of completing the diploma. However, I cannot think of a more time efficient way to get through your CPL.

One week during my training, I looked at my schedule to see that I’d only received bookings on two days.  On the days where I had no flights booked, I planned to spend my time studying in a classroom upstairs. However, without fail, every single day of that week, an instructor would come ask me if I wanted a plane, I’d say yes and before I knew it, I would be flying solo somewhere!

I ended up flying five times that week when I initially only planned for two. On occasion, due to the full-time nature of the course, there can be only a few days separation between an exam for a challenging subject and a difficult flight! 

If there is any advice regarding theory exams that I can provide to students beginning their flight training journey, it’s:

  1. Start studying as early as possible, because the week leading up to your exam may be filled with flights! If you get a couple weeks head start, this lets you play it safely.
  2. Make full use of your practice exams! There are numerous practice exam providers out there, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Practice exams are absolutely the most efficient way to learn the course material and test your knowledge! In my opinion, there’s no better way to prepare for something than by actually getting out there and doing it.

By following the two previous pieces of advice, I was able to get through all 7 written exams without a fail, saving me a lot of time, and letting me get through my flying without any bottlenecks. Overall, I have found the CPL Diploma challenging and intense, but extremely rewarding!

ALL IN ALL, my experience with the Diploma has been great! I strongly recommend TVSA’s diploma to any prospective student looking for a full-time piloting course.

Inspired by Aidan’s story?

For more information about all our Nationally Accredited training, please click here. For more information about training options or to discuss your steps to a career in the sky, give us a call on (03) 5369 5162

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TVSA Cadet Program: Mike’s Experience

Living the Dream

By Michael Acella

Flying has been a lifelong dream for me and TVSA’s cadetship has proven to be an invaluable part of my development as a professional pilot.

I started my flight training in late 2011 at the University of South Australia and achieved my CPL and Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating alongside a Bachelor of Aviation and Graduate Diploma in Aviation.

At the time I finished my training, work in the industry was fairly difficult to come by and I was heavily focused on getting myself a charter job, but I never seemed to have the right amount or type of experience required. However, I never let my dreams die and over a period of about 4 years I continued to look for work while hiring aeroplanes when I could afford it to keep my skills fresh.

Fast forward to June 2018 when I stumbled across an advert for an instructor cadetship program information night that read “Come along and learn about how we are giving pilots guaranteed full time work and training.” Instructing was never a career path that I had considered, and I thought to myself it was too good to be true but I decided to make the trip out to Bacchus Marsh from my home in Adelaide to see what it was all about.

At the information night I met TVSA’s Head of Operations, Annie, and had a very encouraging chat about my own personal situation. I applied on the night along with another 40 or so people who were there and drove home the next morning. The morning after I got home, I had an interview with Annie over Skype and was then invited back to TVSA for a second-round interview with the directors and a simulator screening.

In late August I received news that my application had been unsuccessful. While disappointed I was still determined to get into this cadetship, so I immediately enquired about the next intake and asked for feedback on my application.

Come early October I received a phone call out of the blue with news that one of the accepted applicants into the cadetship had pulled out and I was the next choice on the list and there was a spot for me if I wanted it. Of course, I accepted, and I now had about 2 weeks to pack up my life in Adelaide and move to Melbourne!

Mum and dad kicking me out of home!

The training I received at TVSA throughout my Instructor Rating was second to none. The experience was personal with only two students to one instructor and incredibly thorough. The instructor, Jerome, had a wealth of knowledge and strived to ensure we understood all aspects of our training. We were afforded the opportunity to deliver briefings to real students under Jerome’s supervision which I found to be an incredibly daunting but invaluable experience! The Instructor Rating was one of the most challenging but also rewarding things I have ever done, and I still look back on the experience with great fondness.  

Learning to de-fuel a Cessna 152
Cool, calm, and collected on the outside… Freaking out on the inside!

February 14th, 2019 – Test Day. The day began like any other, I woke up, had breakfast, showered and put on my uniform, then the nerves set in! You would think that tests get less nerve wracking as you become more experienced but I’m here to tell you that those nerves are always there! For my test I had to deliver a long briefing on stalls and a pre-flight briefing on PFL’s before we went flying. I’d been practicing my stall brief over and over beforehand and after I got over those initial nerves, I managed to work my way through it without too much trouble. The pre-flight brief went pretty well I thought but then the testing officer started throwing random questions at me. He asked me about high- and low-pressure systems and I confidently explained to him that low pressure systems rotate anticlockwise, and highs rotate clockwise. “Are you sure?” he asked. Uh oh, was he playing mind games, or did I screw up? Of course, I had messed up! This and a few other questions I weasel my way through and off we went flying into the afternoon! We returned and I packed up the plane and that was it, I passed! I rewarded myself that night with a pub dinner and a couple of drinks all by myself. As I sat and ate, I wondered why this pub was full of couples and why they were all staring at me. Then I realised what day it was… Feb 14th, Valentines Day! I must have looked like the loneliest guy on the planet to those people, but I could not have been more happy and proud of myself!

Newest instructor on the block!

In the two and a half years since achieving my Grade 3 Instructor Rating, I have been afforded some incredible opportunities and had my professional development heavily supported by TVSA. In 2019 I was able to start training towards becoming an aerobatic instructor and during a single week in December I hit 500hrs of command time (more than double of what I had when I started the instructor rating), got my aerobatics endorsement, and became a Grade 2 instructor! 2020 brought new achievements as I attained 1000 hours of total time and an aerobatic training endorsement! 2020 also brought new personal and professional challenges with the Covid-19 pandemic, challenges that continue as I write this. As a company, TVSA has done and continues to do an incredible job to weather the storm that is this global pandemic and I have no doubts that we will come out on the other side better than ever.

My first victim… I mean student!!
I’ll spin you right round baby, right round
Joining the 1000 hour club calls for unsolicited pictures of me in aviators right?

The news that we are once again offering a cadetship program is incredibly exciting especially given the current state of the aviation industry. To be guaranteed a job at the end of your flight training is something that you don’t often see offered in our industry and so I encourage anybody who wants a career in aviation to apply for this program. The staff at TVSA from instructors right through to the directors want only the best for our students and will always strive to provide not only top-quality training, but a unique and personal learning experience that you won’t get anywhere else. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be a part of the TVSA family and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve in the future.

Want to know more about our current Cadet Program? Click here.