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As a Flight Instructor at the South Otago Aero Club, 20-year-old Gabrielle Crawford gets paid “to have a front row seat of some of the best views in NZ”. Have you ever thought about flying as a career? We asked this inspirational young woman a bit about what's involved.

My job entails... Teaching people how to fly a plane, and teaching the theory they need to pass relevant exams.

The best thing about my job is... Getting paid to have a front row seat of some of the best views in NZ.

The hardest part is... Making sure I’m up to standard so I won’t teach other people wrong.

Skills I use in my daily work include... Communication skills, teaching skills and hand/eye coordination.

I'm good at this because... I enjoy hands-on work, and I enjoy a challenge and being my best at all times – therefore I always strive to do better.

You would love this job if you ... Enjoy flying. There’s no way to describe flying, but generally if you go up once, you’ll always want to return. I enjoy instructing because I want to share my passion.

I got into this field because... My dad flies for fun. I decided to make it my career.

A typical day includes.... With flying, I deliver a briefing on a specific flight manoeuvre that the student is required to learn. Then we go up in the plane and I teach them. If they know the manoeuvre and it’s just revision, we go straight to the plane. For class, it’s mainly book work.

My work hours are... Mainly Saturday and Sunday, and whatever time the students book me.

Before working here I was..... Completing my Diploma in Aviation at Southern Wings Aviation College in Invercargill.

The best thing about the course was.... Part of going to course didn’t mean attending a lecture, it meant taking a trip to Mount Cook for the day, or Te Anau... if the airfield was in the book, we could go.

The most important thing I learnt there was... Admitting to your mistakes is the first step to learning from them.

I would recommend this course to... Anyone with a passion to take their career higher – but you have to really want it.

In five years I think I'll..... Have my B Category with Aerobatics rating.

The craziest thing that's happened to me so far on the job is... At national flying competitions, I entered the comp for professional pilots. Those with an instructors' rating, working commercial licence and air transport licence could enter. I had just got my C Category instructors rating two months before and decided to give it a shot. I managed a 3rd out of 20 pilots, most of whom had their A or B Category, both of which were higher ratings than mine. Basically, I was the least experienced pilot in the competition, so to come 3rd was quite bizarre and although I won’t admit it to the others, a bit of a fluke.

If you'd like a job like this, my advice is... Don’t give up. Almost everyone has a taste of failure at some time, whether it be an exam, flight test or renewal, but if all pilots gave up after one failure, there would be hardly any left. Take it on your chin and make up for it next time.

For more info, contact.... Me at [email protected] or my mobile on 027 648 6979. I know how hard it is starting out, especially in a small aero club. I self-campaigned a lot and had to set up a lot of programs – for info on how I did this, or if you want to do the same, just email me.


This article was brought to you by Southern Wings Aviation College. For information on what they offer and how you can have a career like Gabrielle's, click here.