Aviation Pointers

From time to time there will be statewide and local events for your notification. This section is aimed to provide easy to find general information that’s open to the public.

Upcoming Locations for AGM and Annual Conference

  • 2024 VICTORIA – The Grand Hotel, Mildura – 17-21 April 2024




AWPA Upcoming Events

If you have an event you wish to promote, please contact your National Committee members for publication.

Learning To Fly ~ Where do I start…

Learning to fly can be a little daunting sometimes and when you have an ambition of flying, you don’t really know where to start or who to go to, to find out all this information.

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions to help you on your way, courtesy of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Sponsored by AWPA

Today we live a fast and exciting lifestyle where flying can be a part of your life.

It offers:

  • adventure
  • challenge
  • personal achievement
  • peer group admiration
  • use of modern technology and communication
  • increased access to distant places

Pilots fly for fun but can also move into a variety of aviation careers such as charter flying, instructing, agricultural spraying and mustering, regional and national airlines, and the defence forces.

Find a flying school and go for an introductory flight. These flights are normally 20 to 30 minutes in duration. They allow the instructor a short time to assess your coordination and general attitude toward flying and you to feel the freedom of flight. Most people come back and start lessons straight away.

As you will read on CASA website:

“The first step in taking up flying, as a career or just for pleasure, is to undertake a Trial Instructional Flight, or TIF, at a licensed flying club or training organisation. TIF lasts around 30 minutes. This trial flight will most likely lead to a few lessons after which you should be able to decide whether you want to continue flying training. Your instructor will also be able to make an assessment of your potential to handle an aircraft.

During the initial stages of flight instruction, you will always be with a flight instructor. You will be taught the basics of flight in preparation for your first solo flight in the circuit area (rectangular pattern flown around an aerodrome) but will be familiarised with the local training area, usually a ten-mile area around the airport. During this time you consolidate your training and build flying experience. Most likely, you will be ready to fly solo after approximately 10-15 hours of instruction. However, each subsequent solo flight must be authorised by your instructor.

Before you can fly solo, you will need to pass the required medical checks, pass an examination in Air Law, and be issued with a Student Pilot Licence (STUDENT). To be issued the SPL, you must be at least 16 years of age and be capable of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding the English language. You will also need to obtain an ARN (Aviation Reference Number) from CASA, supply photographs and identification documentation, and complete a security check.

If you have set your sights on a career in aviation, this is usually the time that your school will advise you of options for commercial training. They will also suggest that you undertake the required medical checks which are more exacting for professional pilots to make sure you can satisfy the medical standards before outlaying considerable sums of money on flying training.”

You need to be 15 years old to go solo and hold a student pilot certificate and 17 to hold a private pilot’s licence. There is no maximum age although all pilots, from 15 to 96, are required to have a medical examination.

There is no limitation on when you can start learning to fly when accompanied by a flight instructor, but you must be at least 15 to fly solo. Many flying schools have junior programs as do the Girl Guides, Scouts, Air Training Corp and Australian A.

Flying schools and academies are at all secondary airports in the capital cities and at airports in most provincial towns. Flying schools advertise in aviation and flying magazines which are available at newsagents. You can visit the airport and walk from school to school making enquiries, or look in the Yellow Pages under Flying Schools.

An integrated training course is an intensive program that combines ground theory with practical flight training in a structured course and is designed to be completed within a condensed period of time. Theory training is delivered in parallel to the practical training as a planned integrated sequence. The benefit of integrated training is that the flying experience required is reduced compared to non-integrated training.

After passing the PPL Test, you will be issued with the licence which enables you to fly anywhere within Australia, solo or with private passengers in daytime visual meteorological conditions. You will no longer require your instructor’s permission to undertake a flight as a pilot in command.

Careers In Aviation

The CASA Pilot Career Guide 2021 provides a comprehensive overview into the possible avenues for pursuing a career as a pilot. 

When you first gain your Commercial Pilot’s Licence, you will typically look for work in the field of joy flights, parachute drops, day VFR charter such as traffic reports, and possibly flight instructing (with the addition of a flight instructor’s rating).

The next step is typically a Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating (ME/CIR) which can lead to charter work or regular freight runs.

After you have gained more experience, you may be in a position to apply for regional airlines or national airlines. Pilots wishing to apply for these positions typically have their Air Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL).

More information on Virgin entry requirements is available from this link.

More information on Qantas entry requirements is available from the Qantas Careers website.

Recreational Pilot Licence

You need to be at least 16 to get an RPL. For each category rating you want to obtain you need to:

  • complete the relevant flight training
  • undertake a general English language assessment (only required for the first category rating)
  • pass an RPL theory exam (this can be set and conducted by your flying school)
  • pass an RPL flight test
  • have at least 25 hours flying time including a minimum of 20 hours dual and five hours as pilot in command.

Training for your licence, ratings or endorsements (except design feature endorsements and flight activity endorsements) must be undertaken through a flying school which is authorised under Part 141 or 142 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations.

You need to have either a class 1 or class 2 medical certificate or a recreational aviation medical practitioner’s certificate to take the RPL flight test.

The following endorsements can be added to an RPL:

  • controlled aerodrome endorsement
  • controlled airspace endorsement
  • flight radio endorsement (this requires an aviation English language proficiency assessment)
  • recreational navigation endorsement (this requires a minimum flight time of five hours solo cross-country and a minimum of two hours dual instrument time, of which at least one hour in flight instrument time).

Before using your RPL, you need to:

  • have a current flight review for the aircraft being flown
  • meet the medical requirements
  • have conducted three take-offs and landings in the previous 90 days if you wish to carry passengers
  • have a class 1 or 2 medical certificates to fly above 10,000ft, or have another pilot with you who has a class 1 or 2 medical certificates who are occupying a flight control seat in the aircraft and is authorised to pilot the aircraft.

Unless you hold a navigation endorsement you are also limited to flying within 25 nautical miles of your departure aerodrome, your flight training area, and the route between your departure aerodrome and the flight training area.

You need to have a flight radio endorsement if you are going to use the aircraft radio during the flight.

  • If you want to fly in controlled airspace, you must hold a controlled airspace endorsement
  • If you want to fly at a controlled aerodrome, you must hold a controlled aerodrome endorsement

Courtesy of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority


Gliding in Australia is based on a club system. There are nearly one hundred clubs located throughout the country in all states, the ACT and Northern Territories. The sport is self-administering under the auspices of the government regulator CASA. Gliding has well-developed systems and structures, with roots extending back to the 1930s. It is a mature sport and used as a model for other recreational aviation.

Most clubs operate every weekend, weather permitting. You can find the club nearest to you by choosing the Find a Gliding Club menu link. Gliding clubs provide training and coaching, club aircraft and facilities, and launching services. Many also provide on-site accommodation. Much of the day to day running of gliding clubs relies on volunteers, which helps keep the cost of flying low compared to other types of aviation.

Like most sports, gliding relies on various activities, people and disciplines working together. Activities can broadly be split into three main categories. Airworthiness involves the maintenance, servicing and repair of aircraft and equipment. Operations including teaching new pilots to fly and maintaining safety standards. Sport, the more exciting side of the flight, covers cross country training, racing, competition and coaching.

Gliding AWPA

Many club members enjoy an opportunity to participate in the maintenance and engineering tasks, other pilots concentrate on teaching and coaching and all club members enjoy simply being on an airfield surrounded by gliders and aviation.

Most clubs organise social activities throughout the year and many members become lifelong friends. Clubs are family-friendly as well. All family members, from the youngest to the oldest, are all welcome to soak up the atmosphere and become a part of gliding in Australia.

Contact Gliding Australia
Courtesy of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Hot Air Ballooning

The Australian Ballooning Federation (ABF) administers recreational ballooning to standards approved by CASA. Recreational ballooning refers to pilots who hold a private balloon certificate issued by the Australian Ballooning Federation but do not carry fare-paying passengers.

When in overpopulated areas, balloons must fly at least 1000 feet above ground level. When over other areas balloons are not required to observe a minimum height.

Courtesy of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Recreational Aviation

Ultralight or recreational aircraft have advanced significantly since their emergence in the 1970s, from rather basic fabric and wire aeroplanes to the sleek composite types we see today. The performance of modern recreational aircraft easily equals, and in many cases betters, the lower end of the general aviation aeroplane spectrum. Recreational pilots are increasingly using this type of aeroplane for extensive cross-country trips around Australia.

Recreational Aviation Australia (RA-Aus) and the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia (HGFA) administer ultralight and weight-shift microlight (WSM) operations and pilot certificates. Microlights (commonly called trikes) rely on weight shift rather than the conventional three-axis control. This means that there are no tailplane or control surfaces such as ailerons, rudder or elevator, so the aircraft is controlled by the pilot shifting the aircraft’s centre of gravity in relation to the wing.

Courtesy of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

AWPA Membership

The Association has members throughout Australia, aged from 16 to 90 years. They range from pre-solo students to commercial, airline and military pilots, some members having more than 20,000 hours.