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Destined to be a pilot

From watching planes take off to sitting in the pilot's seat, Eloise Dorans-Knowles has turned her childhood dream into a career.

By TAFE Queensland

For as long as Eloise can remember she's always wanted a sky-high career.

"I grew up on a little island called Jersey in the English Channel. It is around eight miles long and you had to fly to leave home and come back," Eloise said.

"I have always wanted to be a pilot, flying just seemed so interesting to me as a child."

After relocating to Australia, Eloise initially settled in New South Wales before deciding to move to Townsville to study a Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence - Aeroplane) (AVI50219) and realise her dream of becoming a pilot. The course is delivered in partnership between TAFE Queensland and Townsville Flight Training.

Eloise said shifting her life to North Queensland was the best decision she ever made.

"I relocated to Townsville to study my diploma with a TAFE-accredited supplier as the structure of the course appealed to me," she said.

"I was very nervous about my move to Townsville as it was so far away from home, but I knew it was for the best for my career."

Eloise said her aviation training was hands-on from the get-go.

"There was a really good mix of theory and practical training, you are not just sitting in a classroom learning. You get a lot of opportunities to fly and understand how everything works and apply the theory firsthand," Eloise said.

"I was quite scared the first time I flew an aeroplane, but it is exciting going out and finding different places and flying over the water."

"My fondest memory was flying low over the mountains from Townsville to Proserpine. The weather to my right was low cloud, grey and rainy, but to my left was as the most serene sight, flying low over one of the most beautiful places in Queensland. I was doing steep turns and pulling 2G over one of the coolest places — that experience will always stick in my memory," she said.

Eloise said it was exciting to gain her Commercial Pilot Licence after just nine months of training.

"It took me a few days to realise how far I had come and how much I had learnt in such a short period of time," Eloise said.

"I am now aware of aircraft capabilities and I can manoeuvre an aircraft in ways I had never dreamed of. I can also now communicate with air traffic control with ease, compared to my first time which was quite overwhelming."

"I am still amazed by how far I have come in confidence in my flight ability since day one of my training," she said.

After gaining her commercial pilot licence, Eloise wanted to further develop her skills and enrolled in the Diploma of Aviation (Instrument Rating) (AVI50519). The qualification is designed to upgrade a pilot's visual flight and single-engine skills and provide them with their instrumentation and multi-engine class ratings.

Eloise said she was excited about her future in the aviation industry.

"There are so many different paths you can go down. You could fly seaplanes, you could work in the commercial sector, you could operate out in the bush or do charter flights," she said.

Looking back on her study experience, Eloise is confident she made the right decision in completing her aviation training with TAFE Queensland.

"I would recommend training with TAFE Queensland and Townsville Flight Training because everything is handled so well. You train in good planes, everything is new and fully equipped and what you will actually use out in the workplace," Eloise said.

"There's also a community here; everyone gets along well and you can talk to the instructors at any time, they become more like your friends who are there to really help you," she said.

Townsville is the perfect training ground for budding aeroplane pilots. Training is delivered in Townsville Flight Training's hanger at the Townsville Airport. This airport is less congested than capital city airports and has both Class C and Class G airspace — otherwise known as controlled and non-controlled airspace.

The Townsville region has a number of micro-training areas for student pilots including open space, confined areas, cityscapes, rural areas, mountains, valleys, coastlines, open water, saltpans and coastal swamps. All of this terrain is located just five to 10 minutes from the tarmac.

As an added bonus, training is rarely impacted by bad weather as Townsville experiences an average of 320 sunshine days a year.