Welcome to the 36th “Share Your Story” post. Pilots from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show students the diverse range of experiences/careers available to them in aviation. More details + how to participate can be found via the following: Click Here and Get Involved

Andy, New Zealand

Parachute Dropping 3My fascination for flying began with visits to various air museums and attending local airshows as a kid in England. Learning about WW2 during primary school had all but convinced me that I wanted to join the Royal Air Force when I grew up, but my family’s decision to immigrate to New Zealand just after I turned 12 helped broaden my horizons somewhat.

Misc (1)Throughout my teens, I was still able to enjoy watching the local Warbirds flying from my local GA airfield in Auckland, whilst becoming somewhat of a flight-sim fanatic, learning to understand the basic principles of aviating from the computer software. I was also fortunate enough to be taken up in the air by older pilots happy to share their enthusiasm for flying with me as a youngster in aircraft such as a Piper Cherokee, ACA Citabria, Pitts Special and one of two remaining airworthy Douglas DC-3’s in the country- enough to get me properly hooked on the bug.

DC3After finishing high school, I knew that I loved the feeling of being up above the world, and that if I could end up getting paid to experience that sensation on a regular basis, I would be happy forever. I visited a few different training establishments around NZ, ranging from aero clubs that would run self-funded part time theory and flying courses to purpose built flying schools that ran full time programs that would take me from 0 experience through to a commercial licence and multi engine instrument rating via a student loan funded system. It was the latter type that I ended up applying for and being accepted into- although had I been able to afford it, in retrospect I would have liked to have gone down the club route.

Misc (3)New Zealand is a great environment for pilots to learn to fly in, with exposure to a high variety of terrain types and weather patterns. I gained my PPL and CPL over the coming years in the schools fleet of Cessna 172R’s, mainly flying the analogue instrument variant, although also receiving training on the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit equipped models. The cross country flight phase (which I’m lead to understand are referred to overseas as VFR Navs) was the most enjoyable for me, being able to choose my own route, plan the safest route passage around the hills and clouds, then pick which airport I’d like to make a full stop landing for lunch!

Parachute Dropping 1After passing my commercial test, there was a long waiting list at my flight school for those students wishing to progress to a multi engine instrument rating, so I opted to go and get myself a parachute drop rating in the hope that it would help aid my employment chances. I turned up at the right place at the right time soon after and was given a job flying for a small skydive company in a town two hours north of where I had learnt to fly with a modified C172 and C182.

Parachute Dropping 2

I flew for this company just on weekends over the winter, and full time during the summer, eventually sitting my instrument rating on the BE76 Duchess during my days off. After two seasons of the VFR parachuting work, I was happy to accept a job offer to fly a twin engine Cessna 310 on aerial survey operations, based out of the same airfield in Auckland that I had learnt done my training at.

Cessna 310So far I have spent a year flying the 310, all around the country and even over to Australia and back, keeping IFR current on the positioning flights but my pay check still relying on mother nature’s mood for the majority of the top-down photography work.

Misc (2)

In the near future I am hoping to go one step further, with an offer to fly the slightly larger Piper Navajo on scheduled IFR passenger operations. The hiring and recruitment climate in general aviation in NZ is governed almost entirely by the flag carrier and their subsidiaries and with little ‘outside hiring’ going on at the airline, there is little movement at the general aviation companies below, so I’ve been very fortunate to be presented with all the opportunities that I have had.

Pacific CoastlineI have also been privileged enough to be taken on as a part time first officer on the aforementioned DC3 that I first went for a jumpseat ride in as a 15 year old. Having leant a hand volunteering at the operation as a ground handler upon my return to Auckland, I was offered the opportunity to get type rating and will shortly be crewing the 30 seater tail dragger on weekly scenic flights around the region and the occasional charter.

I’ve detailed my journey thus far in a lot more detail over on my blog, along with plenty of photos and the occasional video. Check it out at ardmorepilot.com

Landing at Lord Howe Island

Thanks so much, Andy, for writing in and sharing your story! It’s awesome to hear from a pilot in New Zealand, somewhere that I’ve always wanted to visit and go flying over.

Thanks again for writing in and participating in the Share Your Story section of the blog,

-Swayne Martin

About The Author

If you want to become a pilot, I want to make your journey just a little easier. I'm a First Officer for Envoy Air, one of the largest regional airlines in the world, and have partnered with industry leaders like the U.S. Air Force to teach about various aviation careers. For a full bio, click the "About" tab above. Use the "Contact" tab to shoot me a message.

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