FROM SCENIC JOY FLIGHTS TO PILOT TRAINING AND NOW PLAYING HOST TO FUNCTIONS AND EVENTS, ONE FAMILY-OPERATED LOCAL BUSINESS IS SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS AS IT ENTERS ITS TENTH YEAR OF OPERATION.
Founded in 2008 by Managing Director Dick Arnold and his wife Michelle, Townsville Helicopters recently purchased the premises they had been leasing, which is a freehold property adjacent to, but separate from, the Townsville Airport.
Hangar 85, as it is now known, is a one of a kind multi-use facility under 2,500 square metres of roof space. Housing Townsville Helicopters and their new division, Townsville Flight Training; the site is a fixed base operation (FBO) available to accommodate private aircraft and corporate jets overnight or short-term, with office facilities, boardrooms and secure parking on-site; and a unique event and function space which has already played host to The Secret Feast and Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.
But that’s not all. “We are seeking the services of an Aircraft Maintenance Company to service our fleet of helicopters and airplanes,” Dick said. “Incentives are being offered for a company to take advantage of our unique location, immediate demand for services and growing appetite for General Aviation in the region, to establish or relocate their workshop to Hangar 85.”
Townsville Flight Training is an extension of the company’s existing flight training service, and now allows students to train in aeroplanes as well as helicopters. Their qualified instructors conduct ground school (theory) as well as practical training, delivering ‘job ready’ pilots to the industry.
“We currently offer the choice of Recreational Pilot Licence, Private Pilot Licence and Commercial Pilot Licence for both rotary and fixed wing aircraft,” Dick said.
“In the future we will offer multi engine and IFR training as well.
“The style and timing of study is flexible and tailored to each student, with the option of full time or part time study. The full time commercial fixed wing course, for example, is approximately nine months commitment, whilst the rotary is approximately five months. We also provide endorsements, including low-level, sling, and mustering.”
Townsville Helicopters also works in partnership with TAFE Queensland North Region to deliver the Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Helicopter) AVI50315. Funding may be available to eligible applicants, with several course intakes throughout the year.
Michelle Arnold, said there was an alarming shortage of female involvement in piloting and the aviation industry, and they were passionate about bucking the trend.
“We find it disappointing that the percentage of female pilots internationally is three per cent with similar numbers here in Australia,” she said.
“Over the years we have had several females complete their flight training with us and they are now enjoying successful aviation careers. We are in the initial stages of putting together a group of people who will advocate the advancement of women in aviation to spread the message that there are career opportunities out there. They will fly the banner of ‘Aviatrix Australia’ – Aviatrix is the female form of Aviator. We think the name is pretty catchy and will hopefully appeal to young women considering their career options.”
If you are considering a career in aviation, but piloting isn’t up your alley, Dick said there are always opportunities for great aviation theory instructors, aircraft maintenance mechanics, engineers and avionics technicians.
“There are currently traineeships being offered for air traffic controllers,” he said.
“And like any business, we rely on great support staff, operations managers, ground crew and hangar attendants.”
With their fleet of aircraft and experienced pilots working seven days a week from their dedicated new space, Townsville Helicopters is able to offer tourists (and locals!) an opportunity to take advantage of our 320 days of sunshine a year for joy flights, Magnetic Island transfers and trips to the reef.
“We offer a range of scenic experiences that take advantage of the amazing locations around our region, or we can create a custom experience,” Dick said.
“We have been blessed to be involved in many weddings, birthday surprises and have had the opportunity to provide a bird’s eye view of our city to visiting VIPs, celebrities and dignitaries.
“We are also able to provide support for mining, construction, survey work and government agencies such as national parks . Some of our handiwork includes repairing the communication towers on Castle Hill after Cyclone Yasi and lifting the new air-conditioning plant onto the roof of the Aquarius.”