“I knew better than to tell too many people, because they would try to talk me out of it,” he said.
Achieving his Pilot Licence by age 16, Damien spent a few years as a charter pilot in the Northern Territory before returning to the east coast and settling into family life for the next 18 years. He had been doing some casual flight instructing on the weekends for a flying school in Caloundra when the owner mentioned that he was selling the school. The only problem? He was struggling to find a buyer.
Damien couldn’t afford to buy it, but that didn’t stop him from seizing the opportunity. He came to an arrangement with the owner, and so, at the height of the global financial crisis, and with less than $1000 in the bank, Damien took a leap of faith.
After starting with only two aircraft and Damien as the only instructor, the school now has five planes and employs six instructors.
Damien has now branched into online content creation.
“I realised that much of what we teach each student is repetitive and could be filmed, then students could watch it over and over on the ground, to save them having to spend money on flying time,” he said.
Soon, he was approached by a film production company and they collaborated on a reality TV show. Over the last few months, they created Taking Flight,
Damien says that much of the school’s success lies in having a great team.
“I only choose instructors who have a passion for teaching and want to help individuals fulfil their dream of flying. No big egos are allowed,” he said.
Read more about Caloundra here.