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Sky’s the limit with Aero Club

Wednesday, 28th March, 2012

HIGH FLYER: Ben Pardeu with the Grummond Tiger yesterday before taking off. HIGH FLYER: Ben Pardeu with the Grummond Tiger yesterday before taking off.

By Kurtis Eichler

Aspiring pilots are taking to the skies in droves in a bid to further their flying careers and offset the isolation of Broken Hill.

To meet the growing demand, the city’s Aero Club is leasing planes to an instructor from Mildura, Adrian Richardson, for general aviation training.

Mr Richardson has been flying since 1996 and has had 10 students sign up recently.

“There’s a pilot shortage worldwide and commercial pilots are in demand,” Mr Richardson told the BDT.

“Rex are struggling to get pilots at the moment and QANTAS Link have got aircraft sitting on the ground so there is a big demand.”

The shortage, he says, is due to the ageing population.

Captains of fleets are generally getting to retirement age and commercial pilots are scarce, Mr Richardson said.

The length of the training course depends on a student’s ability but can usually be completed in 18 months, he said.

“It can be done a lot quicker if the student wishes to.”

Yesterday he had 25-year-old Ben Pardeu in the cockpit of a Grummond Tiger attempting various manoeuvers and circuits.

The ambitious learner, who started work in the mines to pay for his $100,000 training cost, says he hoped to move into commercial airlines.

Mr Richardson said he had 20 students in Mildura and another 10 locally.

Offering flying training was also a way of improving the popularity of the Aero Club, its president Phil Cvirn told the BDT.

Mr Cvirn said he’d long wanted to build up the club.

“With the inquiries Adrian’s had so far we’re convinced there is a demand now,” he said.

“We have had some inquiries before on a pretty regular basis and being in the outback, aviation is sort of synonymous with managing properties and also getting around effectively and so flying training seems to be a natural sort of thing.”

There were several reasons why people take up flying, but the main one was for recreational use, Mr Cvirn said.

“But then there’s the more serious side of it where it’s an efficient form of travel for business and also living in remote areas it improves your quality of life by being able to get away now and then.”

“It’s a quick, easy way to get to Adelaide.”

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