Flying school in Cairns on the way up
A LOCAL flight school is reaching new heights, after reporting a solid rise in student numbers since reopening last year.
Barrier Aviation flight school now has about 30 active students on its books, with seven students expected to graduate or go for final testing within the next four to six weeks.
After a recruitment drive in December, chief flight instructor Roy Kelly said he had been impressed by the resurgence of interest in learning to fly since the school restarted in May last year.
"I've kept the growth quite steady so that we could sustain it, but we're actually busier now than what I was since (December)," Mr Kelly said.
"We've got another instructor, so there are three of us now and I think we're doing OK."
Mr Kelly said he had chosen his fellow flight instructors Brett Mitchell and Pete Robinson "very carefully", with a passion for teaching being one of the main criteria.
"I waited for the right person to come along each time," he said.
"They want to be there, they want to come to work to do what they do and I think that's paid dividends."
Depending on their chosen course, students are exposed to a wide variety of aircraft in Barrier's fleet, including the Cessna 152, Cessna 172, Piper Warrior, Cessna 207, Cessna 210, Piper Seneca, Cessna 310 or Britten-Norman Islander.
Barrier offers courses for students to obtain a private pilot’s licence, commercial pilot's licence, command instrument rating or multi-engine command instrument rating. General flying progress test licences are also conducted.
"We are not prepared to cut corners and we make sure that we give good quality instruction and put the time and effort into it," Mr Kelly said.
"The teaching materials have had a thorough overhaul over the last 18 months as well."
Mr Kelly said the private pilot's licence and multi-engine command instrument rating courses were most popular with students, with job opportunities available to pilots keen to succeed in the industry.
"We've just recently employed two of the pilots that I trained," he said, relating to Barrier Aviation's flight charter business.
"If you’re a good pilot who's got the right attitude, you shouldn't have trouble finding work in the Far North."
Outside of Barrier Aviation itself, Mr Kelly listed Hinterland, West Wing and North Queensland Aero Club as potential
The aviation sector generates 30,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in revenue for the Cairns economy.
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Resurgence of interest: Barrier Aviation Flying School chief flying instructor Roy Kelly (left) and flying Instructor Pete Robinson with some of the company's aircraft.