Pilot

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Patrick, 30

What does a pilot do?

When he isn't captaining domestic flights throughout Australia, Patrick hangs out in his Docklands pad, tinkering with his 'toys', a high-speed motorbike and his new SS Commodore.

How did you become a pilot?

"I'd always wanted to be (a pilot), ever since I was knee-high", says Patrick. "My uncle was a pilot but I was really inspired by my father who got me started building model aeroplanes and then I moved onto radio-controlled ones." At 15, Patrick attended a flying school seminar at Moorabbin Airport. By 16, Patrick was flying solo. "I didn't even have my Learner's Permit until after 17," Patrick laughs.

In his final year of school, Patrick spent most of his time at the hanger. Throughout the week, after school and on weekends he managed to complete his Instrument Rating Training.

"It definitely curtailed social activities" he says, "but it's one of those things you have to have your heart and soul in."

After instructing at Moorabbin Airport for three years and completing further training, Patrick got a job as Chief Pilot on Thursday Island with a charter company. Patrick then went to Papua New Guinea where he co-piloted a charter plane. "It was a golden experience", Patrick recalls.

What does a typical working day involve?

Life as a pilot is anything but typical. "It's dynamic" says Patrick. "It's the same 'office desk' everyday but there's always something: the weather, air traffic control, other traffic. You have lots of challenges, it keeps you guessing and you learn every flight."

What are some of the pros and cons of the job?

Patrick pauses for a long moment, obviously racking his brain for a down side to life as a pilot. "Hmm, the loneliness, after you've seen a bunch of places and your friends aren't with you. But it's short periods of loneliness. If you ever feel like that there are always other guests in the hotel to talk to and so you meet people."

Patrick's enthusiasm for flying is evident. After thinking hard for a con, he offers up a series of very impressive pros of the job.

"I just love flying. You have the most awesome machine at your finger tips. And I've seen a lot of cultures. One night you're in Fukuoka enjoying a traditional barbeque at a pub and five days later you're riding a camel in the Middle East."

Are there any tips for getting a job as a pilot?

"It takes a lot of effort, you need a lot of motivation," says Patrick. With limited financial support as a budding young pilot, Patrick took on paper rounds and shifts at a local grocer. "A businessman at the flying school noticed I wasn't flying as much as I could because of financial constraints and said, 'you're struggling a bit, here you go', and paid for the rest of my tuition."

Patrick advises good passes in mathematics, excellent hand-eye coordination and a willingness to work hard are important steps to becoming a pilot. Oh yeah, and patience. "Well, mentally you have to believe things, you have to be positive."

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).