Red Centre awaits Avenel pilot

By David Rak

Some people go to university when they finish Year 12 and some head to Uluru to fly helicopters.

Fresh out of school with a commercial helicopter license under his belt, Daniel Williams, 19, is heading to the Northern Territory to conduct charter flights.

Daniel’s obsession with flying began when his father took him for a ride in a helicopter when he was in primary school.

‘‘We took off and there’s just something fascinating and quite magical about getting picked up, hearing the thump of the blades and then flying away,’’ Daniel said.

‘‘My dad wanted to be a helicopter pilot, but he never got around to it, the cost simply prevents a lot of people. Instead he pursued his passion of policing — enjoying a successful and rewarding career.

“I decided that I wasn't going to let a few dollars stop me.”

The Avenel resident flew solo in a Robinson R22 helicopter at just 15 — three years before he could drive. At the time he was one of the youngest to go solo.

But the downside of being hooked on helicopters is the constant dipping into your savings to pay for flying hours and certification — one hour in a chopper will set you back $500.

That’s where Daniel’s side businesses came in handy.

At 16 he pursued an interest in drones and started his own company, DJ Aerial Promotion (formerly DJ Aerial Photography).

And if that wasn’t enough, the budding entrepreneur also got a pyrotechnics license and now offers fireworks displays.

“Letting off fireworks is a lot of fun. It’s really addictive once you try it,” he said.

“For obvious reasons there is a fair bit of regulation in getting a license, but it was definitely worth it.

“I enjoy getting creative with it. I’ve been able to combine the drones with the fireworks in a few displays. You’re only limited by your imagination.”

Daniel said he was looking forward to heading to the Red Centre, both to do what he loved for a living and to get his flying hours up.

“I feel lucky to have secured this job. You’re not overly employable as a helicopter pilot until you have at least 1000 hours. I only have 107, so there’s plenty of work to do,” he said.

“It’s been a long journey from starting to fly to getting through all the paperwork to where I am now.

“When I was training, I was amazed how many older people there were. There’s a lot of time and money required with getting licensed and for a lot of people life gets in the way or they leave it until they’re older and are able to afford it.”

Daniel said he was still pinching himself that he has been able to go from daydreaming in his Year 12 classes to being paid to do what he loved for a living.

‘‘I always thought if you want to do something, you’ve only got a short time on the planet, so you might as well make it worth your while,” he said.

‘‘You need to talk to people who are like-minded and who will give you the inspiration and confidence you need. I’m the sort of person who just gets more motivated by someone telling me I can’t do something.

‘‘And the crazy thing is you can get paid to do things you love — that’s the beauty about Australia.”