Sights on commercial licence

CAREER LEAP: Pilot in training Caitlin Roberts with the Mid Canterbury Aero Club’s trainer ZK-MAJ.
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Caitlin Roberts of Ashburton has an aviation career plan firmly in her sights.

It all takes off next month.

The 21-year-old starts at the International Aviation Academy of New Zealand in Christchurch where she will study for her commercial pilot licence.

And today she is due to sit her private pilot licence, weather dependent, ahead of the New Zealand Association of Women in Aviation Annual Rally at Ashburton Airport.

Roberts will be taking part in some of the rally competitions.

‘‘It’s very cool to have more women doing aviation. It’s not a specific industry for only certain people, it’s for everyone. If you work hard enough you can definitely do it.’’

For herself, she said she found flying both challenging and rewarding.

‘‘It’s just a cool experience, one that I’m lucky to experience.’’

Roberts said it would be exciting to focus on flying full time once she started at the academy .

Since high school she had worked various jobs, enabling her to clock up flying hours with the Mid Canterbury Aero Club in her spare time.

She has been learning to fly in an aero club two-seater trainer ZK-MAJ – a Piper PA-38 Tomahawk.

‘‘It’s not much more than a car. It’s quite cute,’’ Roberts said.

‘COOL EXPERIENCE’: Caitlin Roberts enjoys scenic views while training. PHOTO SUPPLIED

She wants to begin her career in a scenic operation.

‘‘A scenic operation would be fun. Maybe Milford Sound, Queenstown, Mt Cook and then eventually look at the airlines.’’

Her interest in aviation was encouraged by her mum, Natalie Keen, from a young age.

‘‘We always stopped by the airport if we were going past. She knew I enjoyed aviation.’’

The former Mount Hutt College student had her first half-hour trial flight in 2020 while doing the aviation Gateway programme in her senior years. It involved sitting in during flights, briefings, and learning about refuelling and preflight checks.

‘‘That was definitely the stepping stone to transitioning into flight training,’’ she said.