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Name: Trudy Robins

Licences held: 1st Class Airline Transport Pilot Licence, Command Multi-engine Instrument Rating, Grade One Multi-engine Instructor Rating

Aircraft most commonly flown: Whatever my clients have – mostly light twins eg. Baron, Navajo

Current position: Independent CASA Delegate for Flight Testing

Special aviation interests (eg: warbirds): Achieving excellence in safety through training

Employer: Self (Trudy Robins & Associates)

Type of Operation: (eg: Light charter, International RPT, Check & Training): Flight examining for issue of commercial licences and initial and renewals for instrument and instructor ratings at all levels.

Total Flying Hours: 20,000+

Year in which you started flying: 1961

Brief history of progression through your career so far: (eg. started flying, who worked for, types of flying).

Flew an introductory lesson when I was fourteen and was instantly hooked! As a teen-age girl who wanted to travel, deal with interesting people and had considered career choices from ballerina to nun to nuclear physicist, this made up my mind. I felt emotions of power and humbleness but flying seemed to put the world into some perspective.

Started at Royal Newcastle Aero Club at Broadmeadow (I don’t know if anyone is old enough to remember that) and was the first person to go first solo at their Rutherford base in 1962, in a Cessna 150.

Moved to Sydney and flew with Illawarra flight school. Gained my Commercial pilot licence, Instructor rating and worked with Jack Bratham Aviation (mini skirts and epaulets!)

Went to Port Macquarie and after working with local aero club, started own business which expanded rapidly. Those were the days when we would trade in any aircraft once it was 3 years old!

Commenced the first seaplane flight school in Australia as part of the Port Macquarie Business – what fun seaplanes are!!!! "My wheels are up as I’m landing on water" as part of pre landing checks.

Gained examining approval for advanced licences and ratings on the initial delegation of those powers to industry (along with Frank Young and Trevor Howie)

Joined the (then) Department of Aviation as an Examiner of Airmen in Canberra (the first woman in Australia to do so) and stayed 3 years in that highly ex military department. I hope I contributed something to the guys acknowledgment of aviation expertise in a dress!

Left to take up a position of Chief Pilot and Chief Flying Instructor of JBA (the previous Jack Bratham Aviation) in Sydney after constant offers from them and my kids not wanting to live in Canberra. Met and married my present husband and we bought the business and changed it back to Kingsford Smith Aviation as it was Kingsford Smith’s original flight school. My husband (an aircraft engineer) ran the maintenance side and I ran the flight school side. Examining was still taking most of my time. Precious time off was maximised by flying to Tasmania, Lord Howe Island, Central Australia etc in the Baron or Navajo – also some great trips with clients all over Australia. After a series of traumas including serious debtor collapses, 2 of the rainiest years on record (whilst trying to pay 9 full time Grade One salaries etc), and recession induced charter reductions, we sold the business and moved to Queensland. The intention was to have a live in flight school in a beautiful old home in the country, but the conditions we needed were not able to be met and so after a brief stint on the Gold Coast (which we loved) we moved to Western Australia in 1993. Now settled and love the lay back life style and freshness of WA. There seems to be an air of enthusiasm for aviation here due to the vast distances and sparse population.

I still love flying and conduct about 5 flight tests a week at advanced level, test fly aircraft for my husband’s engineering business and we have the Maule distributorship for W.A. We have the first Maule Comet in Australia VH-DTJ and use this as our transport in the business.

I’m also doing lots of consulting work and some part time teaching at TAFE to aviation students.

With 3 children (youngest 8) and 4 grandchildren, and a busy schedule, I still manage to enjoy life immensely.

What would you do differently if you had your time again?

Become aware earlier of the merit in biting off more than you can chew as you mostly rise to the occasion and rarely get indigestion. Probably take more advantage of the many opportunities I’ve had and knocked back for reasons of time, convenience etc. Certainly to learn earlier in life the value of balancing between all our roles and treasure life as I do now.

What you found most difficult: (eg: building hours, poor training methods, exams), and what if anything can be done about it?

Gender discrimination was very serious, but there is a genuine softening in this now. Poor service and lack of appreciation for a clients valuable time was and still is a problem for students. How long is the piece of string or the light at the end of the tunnel are still students confusing thoughts. Honour your student should be the motto of every instructor (they might be flying your kids around in a few years!!)

What would you say is the most rewarding aspect(s) of your current job?

To see the growth of people in skills through their various stages and the maturity and respect for the environment which comes from experience. Also some truly magical moments in the air – lightning, rainbows, shooting stars and glorious scenery.

If you were to give a student commercial pilot some advice on progressing, what would it be?

Just do it!! Stickability is often more important than ability and attitude attitude attitude is critical. Learn to communicate effectively, love your flying and don’t accept mediocre performance from yourself. Strive to be an inspiration – not just to pass tests. Obstacles are also known as challenges – grow from them.

Additional comments/topics

Whenever you’re involved with training or monitoring give all the information but encourage a healthy questioning. Be pleased and accept as a compliment if your student/co-pilot/client etc is better than you!


Last Modified on: 24/01/14

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