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Sometimes it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”

Learning to fly, oh my. But why?

By Haydn Fletcher

Losing my wife to cancer earlier this year was the only push I needed to do something in life I have always wanted to do.

Gaining my pilot license is more than 25-years in the making. I was fortunate to have a teacher who was a pilot and my school permitted him to establish an aviation elective as a trial subject. After the semester, those in my class who desired went on and attempted the then General Flying Pilot Theory exam. At fourteen I was on my way to becoming a pilot.

Then health got in the way – my bloody ears.

From three years old I’ve had countless ongoing issues with ear infections. This resulted in five operations over 30-years to have grommets implanted in each ear and later a mastoidectomy to correct the problem. A failed class-1 medical ensued and the end to a flying career.

Dreams shattered, I moved on and have since created an enjoyable career in solar energy. The desire to fly though has never left and I am sure there are so many more like myself who haven’t lost that desire to get in the air.

Losing someone so close to you and realising the plans you made together wouldn’t come to fruition makes you reflect and prioritise your own life. What matters most? What are you waiting for? Who do you want to be? These are by no means easy decisions and plans will change, but for me, there was only one thing I wanted to do.

After Mel passed, I set about keeping busy and focusing my energy on becoming a pilot. The big decision was who with?

I took my time figuring out who I would choose to teach me to fly. Not only did I not want to waste money, but most importantly, it had to be an enjoyable experience. The critical thing I took from this process was understanding needs and preferences, whilst also appreciating not to over analyse!

I created a shortlist from my key priorities: minimise driving time, determine who would provide good value, who came across as friendly and of course who “felt” competent. Like a lot of people in the Melbourne area, I considered Moorabbin since there are several providers who each had pros and cons. Being in the west, to avoid travelling across town I also looked at providers in the north or west of Melbourne.

I ended up landing on TVSA for several reasons. When mentioned to providers at Moorabbin I was looking at TVSA, they came recommended by a few pilots. The drive was very similar to Moorabbin on “good” traffic days however when peak hours were considered, Bacchus Marsh was far easier. Importantly, however, on my first visit to TVSA I was impressed by the quality of the facilities, friendly staff and their experience/longevity in the industry.

A final key influence was Bacchus Marsh being a smaller uncontrolled airspace with minimal aircraft in the area. I did not want to be waiting in the taxiway to take off as I saw at Moorabbin – I wanted to undertake the briefing then get underway as soon as possible. With fewer aircraft and no Air Traffic Control (ATC) to consider, I could concentrate on the basics of learning to fly and worry about ATC later!

I highly recommend taking time to understand what you need from a provider and go with your gut instinct. TVSA ticked so many for me it was an easy choice and one I am glad to have made. Once I started to meet more of the instructors and staff, it was a perfect fit.

If, like Haydn, you’d like to come check us out to see if we are a good fit for you, please give us a call to schedule a one-one-one meeting and tour with an instructor.

Haydn has also offered some advice on studying the theory side of flying, but we felt that deserved a separate blog. Keep an eye out in coming weeks for part two!