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.