Paul Galea and Tully Rubin Afif (2019)

Paul Galea catches up with Tully Rubin Afif (2019), soaring to new heights as a pilot and soon-to-be flight instructor.

Paul Galea: Hello, Tully. How are you going? Paul Galea from International Grammar here. Just ringing up to see how you’re going.

Tully: Yeah, I’m all good. Thanks. How are you going?

Paul Galea: Good, mate. Good. So I believe that you left school in 2019 and that you have taken a particular path, which I think will be of interest to our community. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing right now and a bit about how you got there.

Tully: So when I left school, I was still 17. And I didn’t turn 18 until March of the following year, so I decided to go full-time at my job. 

Paul Galea: Stop, I have a disclosure. Better get this out in the open. I was served by you once at Mitre 10. Excellent service, excellent knowledge of the store. But also excellent discount for your old teacher!!! So we better get that out there so people know that there was a conflict of interest here. Keep going, sorry mate.

Tully: Ok. So then I went full-time while waiting until I was 18 to apply to flight school because I’ve always wanted to be a pilot. Then the old Coronavirus happened, so that stopped me in my tracks. I was then offered to run the tool department at that Mitre 10 when I turned 18 in March.  It was a great opportunity. I did that for a year before my application to the Qantas Group Pilot Academy finally went through. I went there and started there in January of 2021, and graduated in February of 2022. And now I’ve decided to become a flight instructor to teach people how to fly. So I’m doing the qualification for that at the moment.

Paul Galea: Wow.

Tully: Yeah, hopefully there is a chance, as well, that QantasLink might give us a call and ask us to go apply for their Dash 8s, domestically.

Paul Galea: So that’s pretty exciting. And being a pilot was something that you always wanted to do? Is it something that, ever since you’ve been pretty young, you had on your horizon?

Tully: Yeah. I think it’s just something that I’ve always had a calling to in a way. You know, we used to visit Mom’s family in Argentina, and I used to love flying each year over there, and Dad used to take me to go to watch the planes down at the airport when I was younger. So it’s always sort of something that I’ve been drawn to and had a passion for.

Paul Galea: And you decided when you were still at school that you were going to try and get your pilot’s license and make that your career.

Tully: Yeah.

Paul Galea: Okay, so did you need the HSC for that?

Tully: Not particularly, no, because most flight schools are sort of independent from uni. You can do it through uni, but it does take a fair bit longer. Because they are all sorts of privately run courses, having the HSC is not a huge deal at all. No.

Paul Galea: Okay, so that’s interesting. And is it difficult to pass the course? I mean, I’m assuming they just don’t give a pilot’s license out to everyone. You know, that they don’t let people just fly out into the sky in these planes!?

Tully: Yeah, I found that the content itself wasn’t that difficult, but what the main kicker was at the academy that I went through was that it was done in pretty much half the time of anywhere else. So it was just needing to have a commitment, a passion, and a work ethic to be able to get it done in that time frame and really needing to commit a year of your life to it; seven days a week to it.

Paul Galea: Okay. So that was just full-on for that year. I mean, again, I know nothing about it. But I’m assuming you did flight simulators and then actually went in planes or how does it work?

Tully: Because it’s only light planes to begin with, we sort of do six weeks of ground school just to cover everything that you will need for the basics whilst doing some of our external  Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which is the governing aviation body, some of their exams. Then we do three months of flying to get us to a private pilot licence. So we jump in the plane with instructors and after around 15 hours, they’re happy to send you out solo to do a couple of laps of the airport.

Paul Galea: Wow.

Tully: Yeah, It’s really exciting. I actually got to go solo on my birthday, so that was a pretty cool event! Then they sort of teach us how to do navigation flights. We do a bit more ground school, more flying to gain our commercial pilot’s license. Then after that, we do an instrument rating which allows us to fly in low visibility and clouds. And then after that, I did my air transport pilot license, which is three months of theory and that gives us the licensing, at least on the theory side, to be able to fly the big planes. 

And then to finish off, we did 26 hours in a 737 simulator to learn multi-crew. So you’ve got a partner, and you sort of rehearse a script and you practise, just doing a, for instance, Sydney to Melbourne flight.

Paul Galea: Okay, so that sounds pretty intense, all up and it sounds like you’re full-on at it the whole time. And it is obviously pretty enjoyable?

Tully: Yeah, it’s good fun. Met great people and it’s a good experience moving away from home for a year.

Paul Galea: Yeah. And do you have any aspirations to maybe work overseas with your license? 

Tully: Not particularly overseas. I know a lot of the instructors at my old academy decided to move overseas and go to America. But personally, you know, staying in Australia’s fine for me. We’ve got a good safety record, and it’s a good culture in terms of safety here, which is really important.

Paul Galea: Well, yeah, I think it is. When you’re X amount of metres in the sky, probably having confidence in the safety is pretty big. That’s really interesting, mate. It sounds good. You sound very happy with your decisions. Just looking back, any happy memories from school or things that you really enjoyed about IGS that you can relay to us?

Tully: Yeah. I really enjoyed the Tasmania trip. That was a good opportunity. I did the one down to Bruny Island and that was awesome.

Paul Galea: Yes. So who did you go on that with?

Tully: I think we had Miss Jones, and I think it was just so good. Maybe Mrs Whitaker took the other group that was there.

Paul Galea: Yeah, that was good. And you’re still in contact with any of your mates from IGS?

Tully: Yeah, a couple of them. But we have sort of all gone our separate ways a little bit. Some are also in Queensland and some still in Sydney, so it’s a bit hard to be in contact with them but …

Paul Galea: Well, particularly working seven days, when you’re studying and working. That would have been very difficult. Any advice for the kids at school? And I mean, I know you’re very young and you’ve only been out of school for three years, but you’re at the face of it and very recently, been there. I’d be interested to hear what you’ve got to say from your perspective.

Tully: Yeah, I really recommend that kids start working at a job as soon as they can when they turn 14. You can really build a work ethic. I think that’s the most important thing which I’ve seen since leaving school. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. In a sense, it’s how hard you can work. That’s what I’ve seen and that’s definitely something that employers look for the most. How teachable and how willing you are to do the work.

Paul Galea: You know what, that is such good advice. It is very true and you obviously had that real-life experience of working in the hardware store and you feel like that taught you how to work hard and do a good job and therefore learning these are the things that I need to be employable in the future. Doesn’t matter if you’re a pilot or a street sweeper.

Tully: Well, for sure, like you know that I’ve always wanted to be a pilot, and, working in a hardware store wasn’t that suitable a career path but I still took the time to learn as much as I could and they saw that and they were willing to promote me to run a tool department with no experience on the tools. Just based on that, they thought I could put the work in so it can really get you places just like that, with your work ethic.

Paul Galea: I always say, mate, the harder you work, the luckier you get. And I think you’re a testament to that. And I congratulate you on going so far so quickly. It’s been great talking to you, Tully.