Helicopter simulator helps Greenwood students into high flying careers
Perth has the only school in Australia where students can study a specialist course in fixed-wing (aeroplane) and rotary-wing (helicopter) aviation – and it now has a helicopter simulator to give students the competitive advantage.
Donated by CHC Helicopters to Greenwood College, regional director Vince D’Rozario says a shortage of helicopter pilots was the motivation for the donation.
“The industry needs to be more sustainable – and it starts at the grass-roots level in schools,” he says.
“We are delighted to have found a place for our simulator to inspire young people to take on aviation as a career and feed into our industry.
“We’re looking for about a dozen pilots right now.”
The simulator lets students take off over Perth, adjust altitude, read flying speed and touch back down at Jandakot Airport – all from a classroom.
“It’s close to the real thing,” says Year 12 student Jason Beaver.
Aviation teacher and pilot Mike Hill reels off stories about students who have gone on to become F18 fighter pilots – the Tom Cruise of Top Gun – as well as commercial pilots, air traffic controllers and cabin crew managers.
“I’m really proud of our school and how we punch way above our weight in the range of opportunities that we offer,” he says.
Jason plans to train as a pilot and says the course is giving him confidence as well as possible credits towards tertiary study.
His parents made the difficult decision to sell their family farm in Esperance when he was in Year 10 so he could enrol in the college’s Approved Specialist Program.
And at just $51 a year – the same price as other electives – it could be the most cost effective way to learn how to fly a helicopter.
Year 10 aviation student Ruqayah Hamees says students need to study high level maths and physics at school, and have the ability to remain focused at all times to enter the industry.
“There are lots of checks and processes you have to go through when you’re up in a helicopter, so you need to be on the ball,” she says.
Jason and Ruqayah are just two of 189 Year 7 to 12 students studying the course.
The donation of the simulator is only half the excitement of the day. A real helicopter lands on the school oval from Jandakot Airport with Mr Hill and Ruqayah in it. And Jason is going on the return journey. His smile shows just how excited he is.
So next time you see the search and rescue chopper scanning the beach, you could have a former Greenwood College student to thank.