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Third Time Lucky - A Not So New Newbie!

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Third Time Lucky - A Not So New Newbie!

Old 1st Jul 2015, 06:54
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Sydney, Australia
Age: 29
Posts: 3
Third Time Lucky - A Not So New Newbie!

Hello there and thank you all for having me,

May I begin by saying I have previously existed on these forums in another incarnation, many, many moons ago under the moniker of one 'Bankstownboy', however, upon attempting to access this account I have had troubles resetting the password. Hence, I find myself resurrected under the guise of 'Train_Driver'.

I first joined these forums at the tender age of sixteen, when I was bright-eyed, keen, hopeful, ready to learn all the wonders of the world of General Aviation, and most importantly of all, somewhat CASHED up!

I proceeded to while away at said funds, through undertaking those all so beloved initial phases of flight training, as a Student Pilot. I had the uniform, the bag, the headset, the ASIC, the Medical, and for a sixteen year old, boy did I feel incredible. I even ended up performing my first solo in a light aircraft before being legally allowed to 'solo' a motor vehicle on the road and road related areas of New South Wales.. To say I was on top of the world would have been an intensely monumental understatement.

That all being said, I proceeded to continue with my training, under the watchful eyes of those in charge at a little organisation operating under the name of Proflite Australia Pty Ltd. It was here that I first was allowed to behold the joys of aviation and all the potential that it had to offer a somewhat transport-obsessed mid-teenager, who wished to potentially forge a career in such an industry.

I managed to perform a number of solo circuits at Bankstown, with Proflite, in their venerable little Cessna 152s (namely VH-TLN and VH-TLQ), before entering into somewhat of a darker place, whereby the funds that I was utilising for such training began to slowly deplete! This managed to come to a head, just as I was entering into the ALMOST Training Area Solo phase of the GFPT course. It was at this point that I decided the Higher School Certificate was a more important consideration for a person of my age, rather than chasing a particularly expensive, yet intensely enjoyable and exhilarating dream...

I never forgot the experiences I had during this time, and managed to back-seat with a couple of friends in the years subsequent to this, whilst some of them were enjoying their own training in the form of TIFs, as well as back-seating once or twice in the rear of a Parternavia (sic) whilst another friend was gaining his hours in command for a MECIR.

Fast-forward a couple of years to the lovely period that was 2011, where I was suitably grown-up compared to the absolutely starry-eyed plane boy I was at the age of sixteen. I was twenty one by this point, had moved out of home and was financially independent. I had my trusty Mazda and a Kawasaki motorbike to boot. Riding around the Link Road at Bankstown Airport, I felt somewhat like Tom Cruise himself in that oh-so-cheesy film they call Top Gun... Needless to say, that 'top-of-the-world' feeling in regard to aviation and the associated training had returned.

At this point, I engaged the reliable and worthy services of a number of different Instructors at none other than Whitworth Aviation, at Bankstown Airport, in order to further my training and provide it with the defibrillation it undoubtedly required. Not to mention, I was amazed at the spaciousness of their PA28s after having previously only experienced and having been confined to the 'cute' little C152s of Proflite.

It felt like things really were back 'on-track' for want of a better term. I was close to conducting my first Training Area Solo, my Instructor was an incredibly awesome bloke, (that's you Mr Adams of now Cathay fame!), and I felt that I was also on top of the theory side of things, in order to prospectively sit my Basic Aeronautical Knowledge test shortly thereafter.

However, as you've probably guessed, by this point the dreaded funs were again running low and as such, I was forced into landing this dream of becoming a Private Pilot, once again. Shortly thereafter, the bike was also sold, and a move was made to a premises of a more financially viable standing... The beloved ideal of being able to fly myself around Australia in a trusty little single-engine piston aircraft had again vanished, without any hope of being redeemed, outside the clasp of my vainly flailing hands and arms! What was I to do?

Well, with all of the above having been duly stipulated, I shall now bring you all back into the present day. Doutbless, you're more than ready to find out what the thrust of this post really is at this point.

I find myself with a stable and most enjoyable career as a Train Driver for a government organisation whom I shan't disclose, but I'm sure you can decipher for yourselves. I also have a very stable home-life and environment, and most importantly of all, the financial side of things seems to SLOWLY but surely falling into place.

Thus, I have returned to these forums to seek the well-informed and pragmatically wise advice of all those who participate within. I have made contact with Whitworth's again and am contemplating kick-starting my training, in order to finally obtain that GFPT, which I have been reliably informed is now termed as an 'RPL'. Doubtless, there will be plenty of you who can fill me in on the gaps of time that I have missed, having been absent from the world of Student Pilotry and General Aviation for so long!

At this juncture, I therefore implore all of you who feel so inclined, to furnish me with your comments, queries, questions, answers, ideas, insults, gesticulations, commendations, etc etc etc and similar, in regard to reviving my flight training, with a view to achieving an RPL at the very least, if not a PPL in the long term. Any advice regarding appropriate and affordable training organisations, practical flying advice, aircraft choice, licencing issues, theory components, and similar, will all be taken on-board with the utmost of dexterity and thanks.

I do acknowledge that there are countless, and I really do mean COUNTLESS, posts like mine, asking the same questions over and over again, and I trust it probably feels like the proverbial 'drawing of blood from a stone', however I request that you contribute anything you feel worthy and useful, in order to assist me along on my path. I do not mean to tread on anyone's toes, or anger anyone in any way, through posting what I have posted.. If that is so, I tentatively apologise for such.

I merely wish to finally achieve my dream of becoming a Private Pilot, and a Recreational Pilot in the interim. So please, do feel free to allow the replies to flow thick and fast, and I shall do my utmost best to respond to them as promptly as possible, and to enter into the dialogue properly, in order to gain the most that I may from it.

So once again, thank you kindly for taking the time to read all of this, and I shall leave it up to you all to reply, should you feel so compelled.


Train_Driver is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 01:01
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 202
Nice post Andrew but my question to you is how did you become a train driver? I know a young bloke who would love to be in your seat. As far as being a PPL I think you are better off getting an RAA license if you just want to fly for fun.
Lookleft is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 01:23
  #3 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Sydney, Australia
Age: 29
Posts: 3
Thanks for the reply Lookleft, and I'm only too flattered to offer any advice I can to said young bloke.

I joined up with then RailCorp in 2010 as a 'Trainee Signal Sectioner'. This position title was basically a glorified way of saying the term 'track-worker'. It was an entry level position which I procured by way of keeping an ever vigilant watch on the 'RailCorp Careers' website, as it were at the time.

I had to jump through all the usual recruitment hoops, including a number of psychometric tests, group interviews, role plays, and so on, and so forth! At the end of all that, I was one of three successful candidates at the time, for a position that literally three thousand or so people had applied for.

Did I also mention the recruitment process, from beginning to end, was approximately six months in total?

Once I had my proverbial 'foot in the door' with this position, I then progressed into the role of a Signaller, and thence into the oh-so-comfy Driver's seat, in which I currently reside, after having completed a thirteen month Driver training course.

Having said all of the above, that process was particular to the aforementioned role. Albeit, the recruitment process for Trainee Drivers, which they periodically advertise roughly every six to twelve months for, is fairly well similar in terms of its components, and testing/selection processes.

Thus, I don't mean to intimate that it is by any means an inherently tough task to become a Train Driver, in New South Wales at least, in this day and age, however there are indeed a number of hoops that one has to jump through!

Therefore the best advice I can offer your mate is to keep his eyes peeled on the Sydney Trains (or other relevant state rail operator) website and to apply for ANY entry level vacancies that may occur. Once he is in the organisation, he'll be able to apply for the role of Driver as it comes around, and will also then have a better understanding of how the railway works.

Furthermore, all of the above relates to my experiences within a government passenger transport organisation. The freight side of things is a whole different kettle of fish yet again, which I am by no means qualified to comment on.

As for the RAA licence, I can't say I've heard much about it, but I suppose I'll have to do my research. I do intend to gain a PPL In the long term, however I feel that it makes logical sense to break that endeavour down into small, bite sized chunks, by attempting to attain an RPL aka GFPT in the short term.

Once again, advice is always welcome, and I hope my advice above does assist your friend in some way Lookleft...
Train_Driver is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 03:26
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Under Class C
Posts: 93
Just to add some perspective, but not entirely disagreeing
Youll pay $300 plus per hour dual for a clapped out 1970s cessna or piper. If you do find a school with modern machines, you'll need every penny of your train driver salary.
The Aero Club I fly out of (GA) rents out their Cessna 172SP for $279 inc. GST wet, and this is a 2010 model, Garmin G1000. They have two Glass, two traditional gauges, all newer than 2000. Yes the Dual rate is higher, but once you have the RPL, or PPL, it is a little more reasonable(ish).

Not all operators or organisations are still flogging 30+ year old airframes, but yes, it is still expensive.
gchriste is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 03:53
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Qld troppo
Posts: 3,471
Interestingly, when I did my PPL in 1973, 1 hr dual in a C172 (near new!) was $20 - about one days pay on the average wage ($5000 pa).

Fast forward to 2015 and, from the figures quoted above, 1 hr dual in a C172 is $300 - about one days pay on the average wage ($75,000 pa).

Go figure!

ForkTailedDrKiller is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 07:53
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Sydney NSW Australia
Posts: 3,049
or a Tecnam at $150 hour hire, or $200 dual.. operating out of Bankstown. Raaus.
Ultralights is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 09:55
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Queensland
Posts: 38
Train Driver I must first congratulate you on a well written and entertaining post. You are clearly only interested in flying for fun and recreation and as such I echo the thoughts of previous posters who are pointing you in the direction of micro-lights.

Today these are real aircraft – albeit with some more restrictive performance limitations – but will offer you all the joys of flying as the antiquated light aircraft that you have flown to date, but at about half the cost.

Thanks to the aviation bureaucrats private flying, and the cost of compliance, is steadily being priced out of the reach of the average private pilot, but at least for the time flying micro-lights still offers an affordable alternative. Enjoy

Last edited by TrailBoss; 2nd Jul 2015 at 09:57. Reason: Spelling correction
TrailBoss is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 13:13
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Australia
Posts: 3,950
Many years ago and after being retrenched from an overseas airline (had a 737 command), I couldn't get a flying job back in Australia. I had a little 50cc Honda motor bike at home. Fine around the suburbs of Melbourne but unpleasant in 20 knot crosswinds caused by huge trucks on the Tullamarine freeway.

Decided that being qualified in command on the Honda, I would be a shoo-in to join Australia Post as a postman and get a free yellow cape, big gauntlets, flashy crash helmet with aviator sunnies and a natty aerial with fluttering yellow flag attached to the rear. Better than being on the dole I figured.

Alas, although I could safely fly a 737 around tropical cyclones, passes in all ATPL subjects, a gong from the RAAF and a demonstrated competency in landing a Boeing safely in 35 knot crosswinds on short runways, this all meant nothing to Australia Post. To my chagrin I failed the Australia Post elementary written aptitude test to be a Honda 50cc motor cycle postman. So, shattered at the thought of the bright yellow cape, bone dome and aviator sunnies that I would never wear, I decided to return to flying - this time in a LSA called a Texan Club. Loved it.

Point of this post is you can enjoy yourself at far less expense and paperwork bumpf, by flying a light sports aircraft than wasting thousands of dollars to get a PPL (or whatever Part 61 calls it) in a Cessna 172 or similar type. No wasted taxi time at places like Bankstown, no exorbitant landing fees like Essendon. Go for it
Centaurus is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 13:39
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Richmond NSW
Posts: 1,256
And perhaps even better Train_Driver.. If you get addicted to aviation, as many are here, then build your own light sports aircraft. And maintain it yourself.

Centaurus, Perhaps you were a victim of "having excessive qualifications"?
gerry111 is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 16:27
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Santa Barbara
Posts: 917
Or........and meant with respect.........if you're a pilot you're qualified for nothing else. The skills don't translate to anything. Most fun I have in aviation is knowing I do it on my terms. If the arse fell completely out of it I'm qualified at a few other things.
The name is Porter is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 23:28
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 202
Thanks for the reply TD I will pass that info on. Enjoy your return to the skies!
Lookleft is offline  
Old 2nd Jul 2015, 23:51
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 2,499
Whenever I don't get a job that I've applied for, I just assume that I'm over qualified That's what I tell myself anyway.
Squawk7700 is offline  
Old 3rd Jul 2015, 00:14
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Cab of a Freight Train
Age: 37
Posts: 469
Originally Posted by Train_Driver View Post
Therefore the best advice I can offer your mate is to keep his eyes peeled on the Sydney Trains (or other relevant state rail operator) website and to apply for ANY entry level vacancies that may occur. Once he is in the organisation, he'll be able to apply for the role of Driver as it comes around, and will also then have a better understanding of how the railway works.

Furthermore, all of the above relates to my experiences within a government passenger transport organisation. The freight side of things is a whole different kettle of fish yet again, which I am by no means qualified to comment on.

As for the RAA licence, I can't say I've heard much about it, but I suppose I'll have to do my research. I do intend to gain a PPL In the long term, however I feel that it makes logical sense to break that endeavour down into small, bite sized chunks, by attempting to attain an RPL aka GFPT in the short term.
To cover the freight side of things, there are no longer any government-owned freight trains in Australia. Except maybe Tasmania, but they don't count.

The major freight players are Pacific National, Aurizon, Genessee Wyoming Australia, Freightliner and QUBE. SCT also run their own trains, but AIUI they are actually crewed by GWA. The Indian Pacific/Overland/Ghan are all crewed by PN, with the passenger staff employed by Great Southern Rail.

To get a start with one of these companies, look at their websites and also on seek for "Trainee Locomotive Driver" or "Trainee Driver" advertisements. When I left PN over 5 years ago a Coal driver was on around $85,000, so is likely on around $95-100K, with no overtime included. Freightliner usually pays a little more than PN, Aurizon usually pays a little less in the Southern states, and quite a bit more on the Qld coalies.

After around 5-6 weeks in the classroom, you'll spend another week or two out as a third-person and then you'll be out on your own as a Driver's Assistant/Observer/Fireman when you'll really start learning your job. Yu can expect to be a Driver in your own right after 2-3 years depending on the company and the depot.
KRviator is offline  
Old 4th Jul 2015, 01:43
  #14 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Sydney, Australia
Age: 29
Posts: 3
Than you kindly to all who have responded so far. No matter how little or how much information and intelligence that each, and every one of you has proffered to the cause, you can rest assured that I am doing my best to take it all on board. I do appreciate the common thrust in regard to objectives aligning more closely to that of the Recreational Aviation side of things, as opposed to General Aviation. I must say that having browsed the websites of an exhaustive number of flying training organisations, in recent times, I truly am shocked at the status quo, in terms of hire prices nowadays!

That all being said, I am not deterred by cost this time around, however money is inevitably a handy thing to have, and as such all of your concerns in regard to GA proper have been heeded. I will certainly be giving the RAA aspect an intensively thorough examination, prior to making any decision as to which direction I choose to proceed in.

Somewhat of a Caveat Emptor to all of the information I have offered up so far, in regard to my position and intentions, is the fact that my Pilot's Logbook of old has managed to magically disappear. I do not for the life of me remember whether I had made reference to this fact in my original post and I truly cannot feel the compulsion to rifle through said post in order to find it, hence I have made mention of it now.

Back in the far, far distant past of 2011, I was living at a different premises and in a different situation. Since then I have moved not once, not twice, but indeed thrice. Thus, the location of my Logbook which was with me from the commencement of my flight training at the tender age of sixteen, up until my Phoenix effort with Whitworth's in 2011, is now unknown. I have made contact with the aforementioned establishment in regard to its whereabouts, on the off chance that I had made the tenacious error of leaving it in a possession of someone other than I, however they were not able to shed any light on the situation either.

Therefore I would be particularly interested to explore what options, if any, that I do possess in relation to re-recording/locating my old logged hours from my previous training forays. Needless to say, I am already somewhat cognisant of the fact that said Proflite hours are more or less now non-existent, however records do still exist of the Whitworth ones from what I have been informed, albeit not in a Logbook proper!

At this point though, I shall digress and continue on course. You're welcome Lookleft and I would most certainly concur with what KRviator has stated, in regard to the myriad of private freight rail operators that now exist on the mainland. We shan't even delve into the kettle of fish that is Tasmania... Furthemore, there is somewhat of a historical prestige that seems to fall around those that command freight consists, as opposed to those of us that simply ferry the masses around the 'burbs in horizontal elevators. That being said, I'd like to think that I take pride in what I do and that it is equally as important. We're all brothers and sisters in the rail family after all, aren't we? :P

Finally, Nibbles, I am more than aware of the operator that you refer to, however I am sorry to say that said person is categorically not I. To this point, I have never been employed in such a profession, however I have at one stage owned and ran a bus privately, purely for recreational purposes.. I would also argue the fact that said recreational bus ownership was significantly more costly than flying, and on a much shorter time scale to boot.

Oh, and while I'm at it, thank you kindly again to all and sundry, and I do look forward to a continued dialogue regarding my attempted comeback. If anyone else out there has a similar story, successful or otherwise, I would most definitely be interested in hearing it!

My next move is to do the old 'ring around' and find out just what organisation meets my goals and objectives, and can facilitate my training for a reasonable price, along with a reasonable time frame.

At this point, I can all hear you collectively saying a somewhat sarcastic and lethargic 'Good luck', however I am not deterred by the woeful state of affairs regarding pricing and whatnot, and will proceed on this journey, RAA or GA, in one guise or another.

Until next time...

Train_Driver is offline  
Old 4th Jul 2015, 15:06
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: europe
Posts: 8
Screw the flying, become an English teacher.
inthenightgarden is offline  
Old 4th Jul 2015, 19:18
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Far North Queensland
Age: 33
Posts: 93
That was my first thought inthenightgarden! You have quite the literary talent Train_Driver.
Widewoodenwingswork is offline  
Old 4th Jul 2015, 19:33
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Sydney
Posts: 67
You can complete a full PPL in 3.5 weeks. This is Fact. If you can stump up the money, it will be by far the cheapest way to do it. Then it's done and the license is in your pocket.
Find yourself a flight school in the country, ring them up and tell them you'd like to do a PPL across a 3 week period and talk to them about what that might cost you and what it might look like.

Personal tuition, fly everyday, better weather and most likely 1 or 2 instructors for the whole process.
You won't find this combination at any school at YSBK. This is why some of the bigger schools have setup satellite flight training bases in NSW/ Aus.

PM me if you'd like some personal recommendations from NSW and yes there are plenty to choose from. They are honest, no B/S small business owners and can offer a better solution than the city folk can if for no other reason but the weather. No offense intended.
I know an Australian bloke who worked fulltime in London who had always been in and around Aviation but never learnt to fly. He did his full PPL in 4 weeks in rural NSW and that included spending time with family. From zero hours to PPL. He was 38 at the time and this was around 2008.
You don't need luck, you need cash, time and a priority list. If a PPL is at the top of that list, then make each day count towards it until it's in your pocket.
Aviater is offline  
Old 4th Jul 2015, 23:39
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 201
Agree with Aviator, frequency of flying in the ab initio stage is important. Of course the main problem for most people is a shortage of funds and/or time to commit to an intensive training program like that. But if you can organise it, it will definitely save $ by not spending half your next lesson revising what you did a few weeks ago in the previous one!
Only downside I can see is that you may not get exposure/experience flying in all sorts of different weather conditions, both good and bad, in that short period of time.
IFEZ is offline  

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