When Morgan Vidler received a joy flight for his birthday he never imagined that he would one day call the skies his office. Now he's a fully-qualified helicopter pilot, running helicopter adventure tours in the Top End for Matt Wright Explore the Wild.

Morgan's fascination with aviation started at a young age and luckily for him, it was encouraged by his parents.

"When I was younger, my parents bought me a trial introductory flight in a helicopter. I went and did that on my birthday and just fell in love with it after that," Morgan said.

Morgan continued pursuing his aviation studies in the school holidays, and on his sixteenth birthday he completed his first solo flight. But after reaching such heights so early in his career, he decided to come back down to earth for a while.

"After that, I had a little break. I went and studied my trade — I was a fitter and turner — that took me a couple of years to do. Then I left that and I went and did some design engineering for a few companies," he said.

But spending his life sitting in an office didn't sit right with Morgan. He decided he wanted to finish his aviation studies and get his commercial helicopter licence, but he wasn't sure he'd be able to cover his course fees. Then he found TAFE Queensland.

"For me personally, it was the financial structure that TAFE Queensland offered. I was able to leave full time work, come and study, support my family at the same time, and walk away with a commercial licence. No other platform allows you to do that," he said.

With the Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence - Helicopter) (AVI50315) eligible for VET Student Loans and TAFE Queensland payment plans, Morgan was able to turn his dreams into reality.

Morgan spent the first three months of the course in the classroom, learning the theory behind helicopters, aerodynamics, meteorology, the weather, and how engines work. After successfully passing his exams, he was able to step into the chopper and start three months of intense flight training.

Offered in partnership with Airwork Helicopters, the course is taught on location at the Caboolture airfield. According to Morgan, completing his studying at the airfield was a huge benefit to his studies.

"Being able to study at the airfield just allows you to be immersed in aviation, around other people that have their licenses already. It's like you end up being in an aviation family rather than sitting in a classroom," he said.

The other benefit for Morgan of being at Caboolture was being able to learn to fly in uncontrolled, class G airspace.

"A lot of other flight schools position themselves at busier airports where they have commercial jets coming in and a lot more traffic around," Morgan said.

"Here at Caboolture airfield we're almost private, so there's no waiting time to get clearance. We can pretty much start up and spend the whole lesson actually doing what we came out to do, rather than waiting to get clearances," he continued.

"Plus we're positioned between Sunshine Coast and Brisbane airports, so if we want to teach a student how to get into that airspace then it's only 20 minutes that way or 20 minutes that way. We get the best of both worlds."

After all his training and years of flying Morgan still vividly remembers his first solo flight.

"I've got to admit, it was scary. You spend the whole time learning to fly with an instructor right beside you. Anytime you stuff something up, they're there to correct it. Then all of a sudden they're like, 'All right, I'm getting out now, I hope you have fun!' That first moment is really scary but it's also the most exhilarating thing in the world," he said.

Morgan's passion for aviation was obvious to his teachers, with Airwork Helicopters offering him a position as a flight instructor a month before he finished his commercial license. It's a role that he finds incredibly rewarding.

"I love teaching. I love being able to pass on the skills that I was taught here at Airwork Helicopters. The ultimate goal as a teacher is actually seeing someone start with no knowledge about aviation, and to leave here with a full commercial licence," he said.

But that wasn't the only opportunity to come Morgan's way. Through Airwork Helicopters he also formed a relationship with Matt Wright, star of National Geographic's hit TV show Outback Wrangler. After inviting Morgan on one of his heli-fishing tours in the Northern Territory, Matt offered him a job piloting scenic flights around the Top End.

"A day working for Matt is never the same. There's always something different. It can range from relocating crocodiles, to transferring our guests from all of our tourism spots, to doing heli-fishing tours or heli-pub tours — all that fun stuff that people wish they could do every day," he said.

But as adventurous as his work with Matt is, Morgan loves any day he gets to be around a helicopter.

"Every day is a highlight. You get to come to work and be excited about what you're going to do. Whether it's doing scenic flights down south, or catching crocodiles, or teaching someone, it's always something new.

"But the real highlight is always seeing the smile on people's faces when you take them for a fly and they get to experience what we experience every day."



Find out how you can take to the skies with an aviation qualification from TAFE Queensland.

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