Young solo aviation pioneer- turned-CEO Mitch Boyle sets out to give back to the area where he burnished his skills
Sports Aviation Flight College Australia (SAA) Director and South Coast resident Mitch Boyle has always had a passion for aviation. Beginning Recreational Aviation Australia (RAA) flight training at just 11, he completed his first solo flight on his 15th birthday (the earliest legal age) while a South Coast schoolboy.
He then became the youngest person, at age 16, to fly solo around Australia. The journey involved 90 hours of flying over 33 days, and raised a quarter of a million dollars for a village in East Timor.
And now Mitch Boyle is turning his vocational talents and youthful enthusiasm to giving something back to Australian aviation and to the local Bega community where he lived, studied and worked for much of his education and early career. His big opportunity has come with the planned establishment of Sports Aviation Flight College Australia, which is proposed for Frogs Hollow, in an area already zoned for aviation use.
Now a fully qualified instructor, Mitch will be able to pass on his wealth of aviation experience, and enthusiasm for the industry while fostering a business that will have a major positive impact for Bega and for Australia – while also providing a broader regional skills base to help retain local young people in the district.
The flight school will offer experience, training and qualifications to aspiring young Chinese and broader Asia-Pacific recreational pilots, giving them a lead-in to a flying profession which is in particularly high and steeply rising demand in China since that country deregulated its air space in 2015, allowing private recreational aviation for the first time.
When fully completed, the business will bring in over 200 jobs, says Mitch, who now holds a Recreational Pilots certificate, Commercial Pilots License, Multi-Engine endorsement and Recreational and General Aviation Instructor Rating as well as a Diploma in Aviation.
“The new jobs will be paying well above the area’s average income, and will provide steady, stable employment all year round. A large section of the employment opportunities in the Bega region are seasonal, so this provides a great opportunity for full-time work for locals,” he said.
Additionally, all labour, construction materials and staff will be sourced locally, and the three types of plane used will be manufactured in New Zealand, Newcastle NSW and Cowra NSW.
SAA plans to begin with 120 students graduating in the first year of operation, with a plan to steadily increase this to 1,200 within six years, reinvesting profits in the expansion of the college.
“And what works in Bega can be later replicated in other parts of Australia – Bega can become a model for the whole country – a leader in aviation training, not only diversifying its own economic and technology base, but also delivering a powerful example of how a local initiative can succeed nationally.”
“And it can be a big opportunity for young men and women. This is an industry of the future, which will equip not only its students for advancement in their country, but also involve young people in this community and in this country seeking opportunity in an exciting industry. It is the type of industry Bega greatly needs to retain its young people, as old industries mature and young people drift away to seek opportunity further afield.”
“We aim to have strong community benefits and to reach out to local schools and groups to foster their enthusiasm and opportunities. We also want to encourage interaction between our young students housed at the school and the youth of the district particularly. We want to see graduates of this venture returning to Bega and to Australia time and time again to renew friendships and vocational and cultural ties.
“The students won’t spend 100% of their time at the flight school – they’ll engage with the local area, spending money on food, activities and local businesses. We’ve even arranged a few ‘cultural days’ where they’ll get to experience Australian culture. We’ll take them to our fascinating attractions – places like Potoroo Palace, a not-for-profit native animal sanctuary in Merimbula,” said Mitch, a keen supporter of local cultural and environmental facilities.
“Once the students return home, they may also recommend the area to their friends and family, providing a valuable boost to tourism in the region, which will further support local businesses,” he said.
All students will be equipped with an iPad that contains all their training, course notes and maps. Each aircraft is fitted with a GoPro and cultural days will be filmed too, so the students can share their experiences of the beautiful NSW South Coast with their home countries.
“Our students will quickly come to realise that they have arrived in a very beautiful place, which will draw them back to contribute to tourism, industry and a youth focus that is often sorely missing in regional centres.”
“So we see the college not only as the type of business of the future that is very welcome in regional centres, but also a focus of excitement and cultural growth.”