FAQs

How do I get started?

The best place to start is to organise a time to visit our facilities, view our aircraft and talk to our friendly staff and instructors. For those who have not been in an aeroplane before, we recommend you begin with a Trial Introductory Flight (TIF). For only $156, you receive a half-hour introductory flying lesson in which you actually fly the aircraft! If you enjoy the experience, the next step is to join the Aero Club and book your first lesson, "Operations and Effects of Controls".

What educational level is required to train as a pilot?

There are no formal educational qualifications required to train as a pilot. The education level needed to pass the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) examination set by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority is well within the scope of most people. The only requirement is to be able to speak, read, write and understand the English language. For the more advanced levels of the Commercial Pilot Licence, a background in maths and physics is an advantage, but not essential, as these topics are covered in the theory component of the training.

Can I start training before I turn 15 years of age?

Yes. You can begin flying lessons with an instructor in the aircraft, however you must be 15 years of age before going solo.

What is the difference between Private Pilot Training and Commercial Pilot Training?

Flight training is competency based and progressive, with each of the licence levels building on knowledge gained from training for the previous licence. Whether learning to fly for fun or as a career, all pilots follow the Civil Aviation flight training syllabus as a student pilot - initially flying with an instructor and later flying solo.  (Must be 15 years of age.)

On passing the Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL), pilots are permitted to carry passengers within a 25 nautical mile radius of the aerodrome of departure while acting as pilot in command. (Must be 16 years of age.)  For example, after passing the RPL you could fly family members over Cambooya, Clifton and along the escarpment over Picnic Point.

The Private Pilot Licence (PPL) allows you to act as pilot in command while flying anywhere in Australia, however you are not permitted to be employed as a pilot. (Must be 17 years of age).  With a PPL, you could plan a day trip to the beach at the Sunshine Coast, a flying holiday to Tasmania or an outback adventure to the Birdsville Races.

The Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) allows you to earn a living from being a pilot. (Must be 18 years of age.)  With a CPL, you may wish to fly charters, become an instructor or an agricultural pilot, fly for the RFDS or fly for the airlines. The possibilities are almost limitless.

How do I obtain an aviation medical?

An Aviation Medical Examination is required before you are permitted to fly solo. These examinations are conducted by doctors approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), and are known as Designated Aviation Medical Examiners (DAME). The Darling Downs Aero Club can provide you with a list of doctors to choose from in the local area.  A DAME visits the Club one day a month to conduct a limited number of aviation medicals - bookings can be made through reception.

Alternatively, a list of DAMEs can be found on CASA's website www.casa.gov.au.  To fly with a Student or Private Pilot Licence, you will require a minimum of a Recreational Pilot Medical (drivers licence medical aviation) which can be carried out by a general practioner, however it does have some restrictions.  The majority of private pilots prefer a Class 2 Medical, which is a simple physical examination carried out by a DAME.  Students planning to become a commercial pilot may choose to initially complete a Class 1 medical (see below) to ensure they are able to meet the medical standard.

To fly as a Commercial Pilot you will require a Class 1 Medical, which involves an ECG, an audiogram, a blood lipids test and a specialist eye examination in addition to the general physical examination, depending on your age.

If you have any concerns about the medical, you can discuss your condition with a DAME, or contact one of CASA's doctors by phoning their national telephone number 131757 (cost of a local call), and ask for the Aviation Medicine Section in Canberra.

At what stage do I require a medical?

A medical is not required until your first solo flight. However, we do advise that a medical is obtained early to avoid costs incurred for lessons for a licence that cannot be attained due to a medical ailment.

When are you open?

The Darling Downs Aero Club is open 7 days a week, with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Reception hours are from 8am - 5pm. By special arrangement, flying can commence early in the morning and continue into the evening. Theory courses are also available on weekends and in the evenings.

When can I start training?

You can start training when it suits you!  Lessons can be tailored to fit in with your work and lifestyle - full time, weekly or monthly, weekdays or weekends.

How do I pay for my training?

There are several options to choose from. You can pay as you go, pre-pay or apply to open an account. We accept cash, cheques, and also have the facilities to accept VISA, Mastercard and EFTPOS.

How are the fees calculated?

Estimated costs are calculated on the average number of hours most people require to achieve each stage. We do our very best to be realistic with the quoted number of training hours required. Please be aware that flight training is competency based and the cost of each course is an average only.

Once you commence flight training, you will be charged only for the actual flight time or briefing time.

Do you use flight simulators for training?

No. All flight training is logged in aircraft, as opposed to the use of flight simulators. We believe a hands on approach provides the best testing ground for pilots of the future.

Are the instructors qualified?

Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulations require all of our flight instructors to be commercial pilots with additional specialist training to become flight instructors.  All instructors are required to be re-tested every two years by an independent authorised testing officer.  Our instructors have a wealth of industry experience from airline flying and charter through to competition aerobatics.

May I visit the Aero Club?

You are more than welcome to visit the Darling Downs Aero Club. You can call in during office hours, or make an appointment and we will take the time to show you our facilities, view the aircraft, and answer any questions you may have. Simply contact us to arrange an appointment.

Do you deliver ground theory courses?

Yes we do. Ground theory courses are available in a traditional classroom setting, incorporating a combination of traditional whiteboard explanations through to PowerPoint presentations. These courses include:

Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Theory Course
This course covers the theory required to obtain your Private Pilot Licence, and is also available to current PPL holders as a refresher course. Other theory courses are provided in small groups, or as one-on-one briefings.

Is follow up support available?

Definitely. The Darling Downs Aero Club strongly advocates maintaining ongoing contact with students to provide guidance and support. Our instructors can be contacted during office hours, seven days a week either in person or via telephone, fax and e-mail. Each instructor will endeavour to return student calls and queries as soon as possible.

Twice a year, club members are also entitled to a 'six monthly check' flight, during which the first 30 minutes of the instructor's time is provided free of charge.  If the flight duration is 30 minutes, members only pay for the cost of the aircraft hire - there is no additional charge for the instructor.