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The success story of

Jamie Davis


First Officer on Beechcraft 1900D 

for Central Mountain Air, Calgary, Canada


C-Category and B-Category Instructor Rating

My name is Jamie, I’m a former North Shore Aero Club instructor. Currently, I am working as a Beechcraft 1900D First Officer for Central Mountain Air based in Calgary, Canada. To me, being a pilot defines who I am – I certainly cannot imagine working in any other industry. That’s not to say I was always set on a path to be a pilot; I had many competing interests at school, but in the end, a love for aviation shone above all else.

My aviation journey started through Scouts. I had recently moved to New Zealand from Bermuda and in an effort to meet more people my own age, became a Scout. Scouts NZ run two aviation-related schools a year, aimed at different age groups. These are the National Aviation School and the much more well-known Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School. The National Aviation School definitely stoked an interest in aviation as a career, but Walsh cemented it. The ability to go from having no aviation background to first solo in an intensive two-week window is enough to light a fire in anyone. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, there is a large amount of learning content missed.

This certainly wasn’t true when I continued my flying journey – through Massey University. Massey was a strong contrast to Walsh -there is a strong push to get you in a commercial mindset, which, for me, lead to less freedoms and enjoyment. If you want to explore areas of aviation outside of a pure airline mentality, then you will struggle to stay motivated. As a result of this, I knew I didn’t want to become a conventional commercial pilot.

This left me in a bit of a predicament. I wanted to fly, but the only route I had really been educated on was one I wasn’t interested in. Further to this was the difficulty in getting any type of aviation related job. This put me in a position of low motivation for several years. Deep down I still wanted to fly and to try something new, so I saved my money and in January 2017 I started a Flight Instructors Course with my local club – North Shore Aero Club (AIPA’s parent). At the time, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be an instructor. I didn’t really know what I wanted, but I didn’t think instructing was a great choice for my personality type. I’m a bit of an introvert and generally don’t like dealing with people if I can at all avoid it. This isn’t something that generally works well in a teaching setting, especially at one of the busiest airports in the country.


Fortunately, I discovered my preconceptions were wrong. To start with, I realised that even though I was licenced, learning to instruct was what really taught me how to fly. My lack of social finesse was bolstered by a want to educate people. The Club attitude of flying because it’s fun, not necessarily because it’s work was important to me. This, plus the supportive learning environment AIPA fosters, helped me grow as a person while I was teaching students. This growth was recognised by Daryl and John with them suggesting an upgrade to a B-Cat after a year of working with them.

I may have been enjoying what I was doing with full-time instructing, engaged with Club trips, competitions and the air race, but I was also beginning to think I wanted different experiences to instructing. Flying with Air New Zealand was still not an appealing option at that time. So, I set my sights further afield and investigated options regarding flying in other countries. Through this investigation, I concluded Canada had the right mix of options that interested me.

In March 2020 I packed a couple of bags and ended up in a little town called Cornwall in Ontario. This was to start the licence conversion process, but as you might guess from the date, things did not go to plan. By April I was back home in Auckland. By September I was back in the air full-time instructing, but I knew that I wanted to get back to Canada sooner rather than later.

When I arrived back in Canada in May 2022 it was a much smoother process. I knew how to complete what I needed to get done, whereas before I was stumbling through it. By the end of June, I was fully certified and in October I was back in a plane flying full time as a First Officer in the 1900. This has given me the opportunity to fly not only scheduled flights, but charters and air ambulance services as well. In July 2023 I was assessed for a Captain upgrade and passed. This is what I’m working towards at the moment, which is just one step in the plan for the next few years.

So where next? For the foreseeable future I’m happy in the 1900. If the opportunity arises to upgrade to a training captain, I would probably take it. Beyond that, I find corporate aviation appealing, flying faster, higher and to much more interesting places than I can in the humble Beechcraft. In the long run, I want to come back to New Zealand – I am unsure in what aviation context, but maybe back into instructing and eventually examining. I feel that I would have so much more experience and advice to offer students than what I had when I left and hopefully be able to teach with more meaningful insight and impact. I want to be able to tell stories that will inspire and educate, like the ones I’ve heard from my own role models.

When I started to consider aviation as a serious career, I didn’t really know what options were available or how to achieve them, I just wanted to fly. While it’s good to have a plan, it’s also important to have the right attitude and the courage to seize opportunities as they present. There are many people who end up in positions far different to what they originally envisaged, just because they took a chance at something new and committed to it. Originally, I didn’t know if I wanted to instruct, but I left AIPA a B-Cat with TWA teaching privileges and more importantly, a much better person and pilot than when I went in. Because I’ve been open to change and have been eager to learn I’ve opened up opportunities for the future that previously would not have been possible, giving myself more options to choose from. The path I take is still unknown, what I do know is that I will persist to aspire to be the best pilot I can be by continuing to learn from my experiences and taking opportunities as they become available.

Jamie Davis's Advice for future students:

Jamie Davis's Advice for future students:

“While it’s good to have a plan, it’s also important to have the right attitude and the courage to seize opportunities as they present.”

From Ground to Sky – Elevate Your Ambition at AIPA