Born to be in the sky

Young pilot lands dream job with Royal Flying Doctor Service

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At just 24, Brady Thrift is the second-youngest pilot to take the controls of a Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft in the state.

At just 24, Brady Thrift is the second-youngest pilot to take the controls of a Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft in the state.

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At just 24, Brady Thrift is the second-youngest pilot to take the controls of a RFDS aircraft in the state.

Aa

A love for the bush and an upbringing that saw Brady Thrift destined to be in the sky has seen the 24-year-old land his dream job with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Recently joining the ranks of RFDS aeromedical pilots based in Mount Isa, Mr Thrift is the second-youngest pilot to take the controls of an RFDS aircraft in Queensland.

The achievement is no small feat considering Queensland RFDS aeromedical pilots require at least 4000 flying hours, with 2000 of those hours as pilot in command.

"I've been very lucky considering I'm still so young and I'm still in the early stages of my career," Mr Thrift said.

"A lot of pilots in the industry might have families which they have to consider when looking at prospective piloting jobs.

"I've been lucky that when opportunities have come up, the only person I have to worry about is myself."

His fascination with aircraft and flying began at an early age, with his mother often taking him on business flights from his home in northern NSW to Sydney when he was as young as four weeks old.

"Pretty much from the time I was a newborn, I was in and out of airports," Mr Thrift said.

"And as far back as I can remember, I was standing in airports staring out the windows at the planes thinking 'that'd be a cool job one day'."

From undertaking his recreational pilot's licence when he was only 15, to conducting his first solo flight before he even held a driver's licence, he went on to qualify for his commercial pilot's licence in 2015.

From there it was off to the Gulf of Carpentaria where he cut his teeth for three years as a station pilot, before taking on roles as a charter pilot in Burketown and a night freight pilot out of Brisbane.

The latter enabled him to clock up extensive night hours which helped build his credentials to one day fly with the RFDS.

But it was the time spent as a station pilot in the Gulf that truly opened his eyes to what flying for the RFDS could look like.

"Part of my job as station pilot was airstrip maintenance and runway lighting, so whenever we had an RFDS retrieval at night, I was out lighting the strip," he said.

That's where Mr Thrift's initial drive to fly for the Royal Flying Doctor Service came from.

"I remember watching the King Air land on the strip one morning at about 2am and being absolutely awestruck," he said.

And on one fateful evening at the start of 2019, Mr Thrift was brought closer to his future colleagues in a way he could never have imagined.

"I was walking around the compound just after the sun had gone down and stood on a baby brown snake, which struck me on the side of the left leg above the ankle," he said.

"The Flying Doctor was called, and I took a trip in the King Air to Mount Isa Hospital.

"Fortunately, the snake hadn't released its venom and I was discharged the next day."

A few years later, and Mr Thrift has now conducted some of his training in that exact aircraft.

"I'm working and flying the same aircraft with the same team; the same pilot, doctor and flight nurse are all here and now I'm working alongside them.

"It's incredibly exciting to be now working as a part of that team."

Mr Thrift said his advice for young pilots looking to follow a similar career path was simple - to have a goal and stick to it.

"You have to have a goal, and while not everyone will have one straight away, once you do know what it is you just have to figure out how you are going to achieve it and then stick to that plan," he said.

"Nothing comes easy, but hard work and dedication will always pay off."

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