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Nathan Brown's dream of becoming a commercial helicopter pilot came true on his 18th birthday.

Nathan Brown has kicked off his aviation career, becoming one of the youngest qualified commercial helicopter pilots in the country after gaining his licence on his 18th birthday.

Fresh out of high school and with no prior flight experience, Mr Brown enrolled in TAFE Queensland’s Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence - Helicopter) (AVI50315) which is delivered by Townsville Helicopters.

Mr Brown said the six-month-long diploma exceeded his expectations.

“Two weeks into the course an instructor took me flying and not long after that I started solo flights — I remember the freedom I felt, you don’t get that sort of rush from a regular job,” Mr Brown said.

“We very rarely had a bad day of weather, every day we went flying and you get access to the helicopters and instructors seven days a week, so we were full throttle the whole time.”

Students learn in a self-contained hanger at the Townsville Airport and are exposed to Class C and G airspace — a combination Mr Brown said is ideal.

“I feel that learning in controlled airspace opens up so many opportunities to fly wherever you want to like bigger cities, because you have that experience talking to air traffic control and you gain confidence operating around other aircraft,” Mr Brown said.

“In Townsville, you only have to fly for five or 10 minutes and you’re able to do mountain training or low level practice, everything is located close by which is really convenient.”

Throughout his studies, Mr Brown took advantage of every opportunity to gain more industry exposure and hands-on experience.

“When flooding hit the Townsville region and cut the Haughton River, the instructors were doing transits to help people who were stranded and I volunteered to help load and unload passengers,” Mr Brown said.

“The opportunity allowed me to experience navigating in bad weather, and I was also able to gain a wider respect of what happens outside of the helicopter in regards to making sure passengers are safe and that the load is within the limits of what the helicopter can fly.”


If you want a job that offers freedom, adventure, and a high rate of job satisfaction then a career in aviation could be for you.

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