Year 12 Graduate | Thomas Roots
Like other Year 12 graduates, Thomas Roots is on cloud nine.
However, there’s more to this 17-year-old's sense of euphoria and accomplishment.
The dedicated teenager from Sheldon College, in Redland City, south-east of Brisbane, recently completed his first solo flight in a Cessna 172.
“I felt a bit shaky before I set off. When you are solo it is entirely up to you; you have complete freedom,” he says.
“After the flight I called my mum and all I could hear was screaming. She was over the moon.”
Thomas has been studying for his private pilot licence, since Year 11, through the College’s specialist Aviation and Space Academy which offers industry recognised credentials in partnership with the Australian Wings Academy.
“I am one of the youngest students in my aviation class at the Aviation Wings Academy to have achieved my epaulettes (first solo) at 17 years. I only got my car driver's licence five months ago,” he says.
Thomas does not hail from a family of pilots, but says flying has always fascinated him.
“My family emigrated from the United Kingdom when I was about 4-years-old and I put down the fascination to having gone into a cockpit on the Emirates flight over here,” he recalls.
“The pilots on the flight allowed me to come forward and switch on lights on the consoles and that was it!”
Thomas says when he discovered Sheldon’s aviation program he knew it was something "I had to grab”.
“My instructors said they wished they could have had the opportunity to learn aviation when they were at school!," he says.
"I am learning a lot through both practical and theoretical training, including using the latest technology for computer-generated aviation scenarios.
“Mathematics has definitely helped me in my piloting including the ability to perform mental maths, such as to calculate fuel burn during flights.
“You also learn to be confident in what to do in an emergency. Passengers expect a pilot to be there to help no matter what the conditions.”
After graduating, Thomas intends continuing his studies full-time at the Aviation Wings Academy on the Gold Coast. His primary goal is to finish his commercial aviation course - a Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane) - before the end of 2019.
"I then hope to fly internationally for a large airline."