Getting a pilot’s licence during school time is one of the many vocational education training options for year 10 girls at Fairholme College in Toowoomba.

Story Ken Eastwood

"It’s pretty fun,” says 15-year-old Josee Currin, having finished her fourth hour of flying a Cessna 150 during school time at Fairholme College, Toowoomba. On Tuesday mornings once a fortnight, Josee and two other year 10 girls head to the Darling Downs Aero Club for an hour’s theory, followed by an hour of flying, as they work towards their recreational pilot’s licence – the first step in obtaining a commercial licence.

The girls are not missing any regular school classes, as all 96 of the year 10 students at Fairholme are out and about at the same time doing some form of vocational training. Some are working towards diplomas of business or crime and justice, and others are gaining a certificate 3 in disciplines such as fitness instruction, education support or nursing. But when Josee thinks of what the others are doing and what she is doing in the skies above them, she reckons she picked the right thing. “They’re pretty jealous I think,” she says.

Josee, one of the 183 boarders in the 740-student school, comes from Kingaroy, Qld, and is aiming for a career in aviation, possibly starting with the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. Another year 10 boarder, Maxi Hill from Meandarra, Qld, isn’t sure what her pilot’s licence will lead to, although it’s certainly not unusual in her family – her 17-year-old brother Artie is also working towards his licence, and her Dad’s main business is aerial spraying and fire-bombing, with planes based at St George, Meandarra and Mungindi. “So I was kind of always going to be doing it,” Maxi says. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #125

Outback Magazine: June/July 2019