Thursday, January 9, 2014
Share Your Story: Tom Thorne, Student Pilot, New Zealand
Welcome to the 29th "Share Your Story" post. Pilots from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show students the diverse range of experiences/careers available to them in aviation. More details + how to participate can be found via the following: Click Here and Get Involved
My name is Tom Thorne, I am a 16 year old PPL student. I live in South Canterbury New Zealand. My Passion for aviation started at the age of 11 when I was given a small remote control toy helicopter for my birthday. My hobby expanded rapidly and I became a radio control aeroplane enthusiast. Three years later I took my first trial flight at South Canterbury Aero club in ZK-PAD, a Piper Tomahawk. That 30 minute flight had me hooked. It was the first time in my life when I knew where my future was going to be headed. However at 14 I was too young to start training. The wait would be too great before I could legally solo at the age of 16. My family and I decided I would wait until my 15th birthday before I would start training at the snail's pace of 1 lesson per month. That way I could be ready to solo soon after my 16th birthday.
Me and my instructor after my first solo flight
As 10th December (my B-day) approached, I began to set my sights on soloing on the day of my birthday. It became a goal of mine and my instructor was a fantastic aid in getting the timing right! My medical was finalized 2 days before my 16th.
On the day itself I woke to a very low cloud base. Fortunately by 12pm it had lifted to 1000 ft AGL. I had to carry out my circuit at 800 ft AGL. A bit lower than the usual 1000 but after four circuits with my instructor, he asked how I felt about the conditions and my flying and then stepped out. So with a total time of 15.2 hours I proceeded on my own. Rolling down the runway, the feeling of being dependent on skills crafted over the past year and being totally in control is indescribable. I did one circuit and a reasonably nice landing. After I stepped out of the plane the feeling of elation was not immediate but gradually increased over the following hours. I remember how thrilling it was to log my flight for the first time as pilot in command.
To read more of Tom's "Share Your Story" article, click below. (If you're already on the full article, ignore this)
I was photographed and interviewed for the paper afterwards, It was a great surprise to find myself on the front page the following morning. I was also fortunate enough to be interviewed on Port FM (a local radio station) on the same day.
From the day of my trial flight I have been set on a career in aviation and in the last year I have been very keen on the prospect of flying for airlines. In New Zealand we have five aviation academies that have courses set up by Air New Zealand. This is called a diploma in aviation, it totally prepares you for work with Air New Zealand. Of course airlines have a minimum hour requirement so some work in the field of general aviation will be required. I am prepared and willing to put in as much work as is required. But all flying experience is valuable and the journey is half the fun. For now I am going to continue flying, and now that I have soloed I can fly weekly with the plan of gaining my PPL in a year or two.
A few days ago I had the opportunity to spend two days sitting in the jump seat of an ATR 72-600. The captain was a family friend and he knew about my interest. He offered to take me on along. It was a fantastic experience that offered huge insight into what day to day life is like for an airline pilot. I met many great people and was even able to talk to one of the Air New Zealand recruiters to briefly discuss air schools of choice, and course options, etc. The flights in the plane were fascinating. Observing the state of the aircraft systems was a truly inspiring experience. I am more enthusiastic than ever and can't wait to finish my PPL and start my commercial training.
Thanks so much Tom for writing in and sharing your story. It's great to connect with a long-time reader of the blog! I hope you'll enjoy the rest of your training in New Zealand. Make sure to write back in about your progress down the road, I'm sure you'll do great!