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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?

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