Caroline’s Flying High

Aviation came to me by chance. I was at university studying Creative Media – something that didn’t quite fit. I made the most of campus life and made a big group of friends, one of whom was a pilot. He was always telling stories about doing barrel rolls and competitions and made it sound really exciting, and he always encouraged people to come with him for a flight. He quickly noticed that I seemed more interested than others and encouraged me to do a trial flight, a hands-on experience at the Royal Aero Club of WA. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

After my trial flight, I realised this is what I wanted to do. Until then, I had been saving my pocket money for nothing in particular. So, while my parents were on an overseas holiday, I sent them a text to say I had spent most of my savings on the first part of my Recreational Pilot’s Licence.

I flew part-time while balancing university and work. In 2018 I achieved my Recreational Pilot’s Licence. In 2019 I received my aerobatics rating and in 2020 my Private Pilot’s Licence. This was followed by my formation endorsement, enabling me to fly and land in close formation with other planes. I thought it best to finish the degree I’d already started. Around this time, I set my sights on joining the full-time Diploma of Aviation course at the Western Australian Aviation College (WAAC). In March of this year, I achieved my Commercial Pilots Licence and undertook an Instructor Rating soon after, which means I can teach others how to fly. I’ve just been offered a casual position as a flight instructor with the Royal Aero Club of WA.

During my commercial training, being surrounded by people with the same passion and goals made me thrive. I thought this business would be cut-throat. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone in the class supported my achievements and sympathised with my mistakes. They even traded worse stories to make me feel better; leaving the ropes on the plane after start-up, flat-spotting a tyre and getting tongue-tied on the high traffic radios, we can look back now and laugh at all the mistakes. We never made them more than once.

My favourite thing about being a pilot is the ability to be challenged every day. After every flight test, new experience, and challenge, I am always so proud of my achievement and in awe that someone let me do it. Most recently was participating in the Australia Day Skyworks formation, flying over the city on Australia Day in a formation of six aircraft timed perfectly, around the likes of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Police Airwing and aerobatic formations.

I’ll squash any misconceptions now for anyone interested in considering a career as a pilot. I didn’t do physics or score particularly high in mathematics. Engineering wasn’t my thing, either. I still struggle to push the plane to check the tyres and need a step ladder to check the fuel. I guess I’m trying to say that if I can do it, anyone can.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Caroline. We are so pleased you have fulfilled your goal of becoming a pilot. We are sure you’ll be an inspiration to a whole new generation of female pilots.

Caroline with her flight instructor Harrison King
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