This is a fantastic account written by Matt himself. Matt was reading the Matamata College Alumni website and was interested in the achievements of students profiled to date. His career and life story reads…
I don’t know if I qualify for “hall of fame” status but as a fairly non-achiever at school I thought it would be quite good to get on here and show others that you don’t always have to do well at school to do well in life and that with a passion and goal you can achieve what ever you like! Anyway here’s what I have done…
I had a few minor achievements throughout secondary school but it was really only after leaving at the end of the year 2000 that my academic skills really came through. Throughout my 6th form year I had began to take flying lessons following a careers evening at the school. Flying was always my passion as my grandfather (also a Matamata College graduate) had his own plane on the farm in Putaruru so it was in the blood. I achieved my first solo on my 16th birthday, the youngest possible age to fly a plane solo. I remember taking the day off school for it. I continued to fly in the weekends through the 6th form whenever I had saved enough from milking morning and night before and after school.
In 2001 I enrolled in a full time course with the then Bay of Plenty Flight Center (now Bayflight). After passing all 6 exams required with high marks I gained a Private licence shortly after my 17th birthday, I then had a further 6 exams for my Commercial Pilots licence and was able to gain my CPL at the youngest possible age of 18. While working three other jobs around Tauranga I kept at it trying to build my hours and eventually became a flight instructor.
I became a senior instructor in Tauranga as well as the Chief Flying Instructor at the Matamata Aeroclub. I was also the skydive pilot in Matamata, a fish spotting pilot off the coast of Tauranga as well as flying aerial photography over the greater Waikato area.
In 2004 I took this experience abroad. With no real idea about where to go, I went to Botswana in Africa. I gained a charter pilot job in one of the most beautiful places in the world, flying rich tourists into private 5 star lodges in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. Within 18 months I was promoted to Chief Pilot for the company I was working for, Safari Air with great responsibilities.
I kept the kiwis flowing into Botswana by converting the company to an all kiwi flight crew of 8 pilots from various parts of New Zealand. I was then hired as a corporate charter pilot in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. After traveling to the States to gain my Airline Transport Pilots Licence I became a captain of the Beech 1900D (same as flown at Air New Zealand link) and the youngest Captain that National Airways Botswana had ever had. We flew VIP all over southern Africa and on one flight I flew the presenters of Top Gear to Francistown for their filming of the Botswana Top Gear episode.
My career then took another strange turn and I was offered a position in India with the national carrier, Air India. After intense training in Auckland with Air New Zealand I gained qualification to fly the Boeing 777. I went on to spend two and a half years flying with Air India, based in Mumbai and Delhi. I operated to various worldwide destinations.
After losing my job in India due to nationalisation and government corruption wishing to force out expat pilots I then applied to and was successful with Qatar Airways.
Today I am a First Officer on the Boeing 777 for Qatar Airways, living in Doha, Qatar and working for one of the fastest growing airlines in the world operating to more than 100 destinations worldwide. This opportunity has totally changed my life and taken me further than I could have ever imagined. In the next year or two, I will have the experience and requirements for a command upgrade and I will then be a Captain on one of the largest most advanced airliners in the world, and all going to plan, before I am 30 years of age. Qatar Airways was recently voted best Airline in the world and is renowned for its 5-star service. Not so well known in New Zealand as we are about 10 years behind the growth of Emirates but we will be operating to Auckland in the near future I am sure.
My career highlights seem to be continuous, I absolutely love my job and every trip I fly is different and to a different destination so it never ends.
The qualifications Matt has gained are many and varied.