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Caboolture's first fixed-wing graduate goes sky-high

The sky's the limit for Megan Stephens, the first ever graduate from TAFE Queensland’s Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence - Aeroplane) (AVI50222) in Brisbane.

Delivered under the expert guidance of TAFE Queensland’s partner instructors from Airwork Aviation in Caboolture, Megan successfully obtained her diploma and her Commercial Pilots Licence to become a qualified pilot at just 19 years old.

Deciding to become a pilot after high school, Megan was determined to have a career that would be both challenging and interesting in the long term – and flying fitted her brief to a tee.

“I wanted to study a qualification that would challenge me and lead to a career where I wouldn’t get bored — and becoming a pilot is exactly that,” said Megan.

“When I talk to my friends who are studying in classrooms, I’d just think ‘well, this week I’ve been out flying’ and my classroom was over the coast, Moreton Island and the inner west."

“Now that I’m qualified, the view from my ‘office’ will always be beautiful and forever be changing. Also, I’ll constantly be challenged every time I get behind the controls while exploring the world,” she said.

Megan chose to study with TAFE Queensland because the diploma only took her nine months to complete and includes 200 hours of practical flying.

“I was drawn to fixed-wing because there are so many opportunities for career progression within different industries and with the large airlines,” said Megan.

“I found the structure of the course great. Nine months is shorter than other courses out there and putting all my time and effort into the theory for the first 12 weeks meant I knew what to expect when I got behind the controls for my first flight,” she said.

The facilities at Airwork’s training facility at Caboolture Airfield helped Megan understand everything she needed to know about planes and how to fly them, allowing her to learn in an aircraft hangar when she wasn’t flying.

“The best thing about studying in an aircraft hangar is as we learn aircraft theory, we’re able to walk into the hangar and see the engineers working on the plane. Seeing what we’re being taught helps embed what we’re learning and sets us up to pass,” she said.

Growing up on a farm in Nanango in Queensland, Megan is now looking to start her aviation career in the agriculture industry before eventually joining the Royal Flying Doctors or becoming a flight instructor.

“It’s crazy to think that in just nine months I’ve gone from never having touched a plane to now being qualified, capable and confident enough to fly one!” laughs Megan.

“I can’t wait to take my parents for their first scenic flight. I’ll get to show them my favourite parts of the coast and whisk them over some of the amazing beaches and islands I’ve seen during my studies.”

The Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence - Aeroplane) (AVI50222) is a full-time, 38-week course where students complete their training with TAFE Queensland in partnership with Airwork Aviation.

Caboolture airfield is outside of controlled airspace which allows students to spend more time flying and less time waiting for air traffic control.

In the course, students learn how to perform normal and emergency commercial pilot duties including passenger, charter, and cargo operations.

Successful completion of the course gives graduates like Megan the knowledge and practical skills needed for a successful career as a commercial aeroplane pilot in industries including rural operations, joy-flights, air transport charter operations and search and rescue.