High flying aviation graduate gets her wings

Griffith University aviation alumnus Kate Richards has landed her dream job with Virgin Australia after being crowned Dux of her flight training course.

After graduating from the Bachelor of Aviation in 2018, Kate earned a place at the prestigious Virgin Australia Pilot Cadet Program in Adelaide.

A dream job

The high flying alumnus aced her training, and has just secured a job as a First Officer on Virgin’s ATR-72 fleet.

“It’s not just about passing the exams – it’s about your ability to work as part of a team, solve problems and perform well under pressure,” she said.

“I was thrilled to get a job with Virgin after finishing my flight training.”

Following your passion

A sunset flight over Uluru as a teen ignited Kate’s passion for flying.

“I was on a flight with a female pilot, and she did a low right turn over Uluru and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen,” she said.

“I decided right then that I wanted to be a pilot.

“The first time you push the throttle up and go full power is the coolest thing in the world.

“I remember being pushed back in my seat, roaring down the runway with a huge smile on my face.”

Building industry connections

During her time at Griffith University, Kate was part of the MATES (Mentoring Aviators Through Educational Support) program and launched an annual Aviation Flight Camp for high school students.

“I had fantastic lecturers at Griffith, and they were so supportive,” she said.

“We had so many professional development opportunities and the chance to learn from industry mentors.”

Griffith aviation flying high

Griffith’s Aviation program has forged close relationships with a host of industry players including QantasLink and BASAIR, Virgin Australia Pilot Cadet Program and Qantas Future Pilot Program.

Senior lecturer in aviation Dr Guido Carim Junior said the success of alumni like Kate reflected the strong industry focus at Griffith.

“Alumni like Kate are great ambassadors for our program,” he said.

“Our industry connections definitely open doors for our students and there are a lot of options for them.

“Our graduates fly with the major airlines, are part of the Royal Australian Airforce, work in flight control and airline management.

“We were one of the first universities to offer an aviation program, and we are still at the forefront of aviation education.”

Griffith re-signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Queensland Airports Ltd last week, ensuring continued Work Integrated Learning opportunities with the airport operator, whichowns and operates Gold Coast, Townsville, Mount Isa and Longreach airports.