Meet Our Pilots – Kieran Hagerty

Hi, I’m Kieran, an Aussie, qualified pilot and flight instructor and I look forward to sharing my insights with you on topics such as flight instruction, landing a job as a pilot, and the journey to the airlines.


Hi, I’m Kieran, a commercial pilot and flight instructor, and I’ve been flying since I was 15 years old. I became qualified during the COVID-19 pandemic, and over two years and two relocations later, I managed to land my first job. Since then, I have learned so many valuable lessons about the world of aviation, and I’m only just getting started. I can’t wait to share them with you and keep you in the loop with my journey as an aviator!

kieran hagerty

How Kieran caught the “aviation bug”

People often ask me how long I’ve wanted to be a pilot. My answer? “For as long as I can remember.” I was fortunate enough to travel frequently with my parents during my formative years and due to the nature of my dad’s work, I’d lived in three countries before finishing kindergarten: Australia (my home- and the best of them all!), Bahrain (a dot on the map next to Saudi Arabia- google it!) and Georgia (not the US state- google again!).

Throw in a trip to London and Paris a few years later, plus two more international trips during high school, and it’s safe to say I’d discovered both my love for travel and my passion for being in and around airplanes.

Somewhere along the way, around age 14, I found out about the Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC)- a youth organization funded by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) where adolescents and young adults can learn about the RAAF way of life and get a taste for several RAAF careers, including flying planes. In February of that year, I signed up for my local squadron, and soon after, I found myself attending my first powered flying course.

Fast forward to age 15 and I would do my first solo flight. You can’t drive a car unsupervised in Australia until you’re 17.  Imagine that! After this, it was safe to say I’d “caught the bug,” and I haven’t looked back since.

kieran hagerty

The journey to my first job as a pilot

Two years, eight school holiday flying camps, and one flying scholarship later, I sat my final high school exams (called the HSC in Australia) and then had a series of random full-time and part-time jobs in my first 18 months post-school (after another international trip, of course!).

In July 2019, I finally enrolled in formal training to receive my Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL), followed by my Multi Engine Instrument Rating (ME/IR).

The course was 14 months of grueling full-time study that only got more difficult as the course progressed. Ultimately, I made it out alive with qualifications in hand, and relatively unscathed from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that had unfolded mid-way through my studies.

However, as I packed my bags to move to Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia, in search of my first job, I had no idea just how badly a global pandemic would affect the start of my career.

kieran hagerty
After passing my Multi Engine Instrument Rating (ME/IR) flight test 

From the week I arrived in Darwin, I began doing what some call the “walk of shame,”  that is, starting at one end of the street where all the General Aviation (GA) companies were located and walking into every operator’s office and handing in a resume, one by one. I did this every 3-6 weeks for almost a year and quickly became used to the phrase “We’re not currently hiring, but we’ll keep your resume on file.” As disheartening as this was, I knew that I wasn’t alone and that hundreds of newly qualified commercial pilots were in the same boat as me, thanks to a stagnant aviation industry made infinitely worse by worldwide lockdowns and travel restrictions.

I never doubted my ability to score a job, instead deciding to change tack. After a year in Darwin (one wet and one dry season in tropical speak), I returned home to Sydney and decided to pursue a qualification in instructing. By now, the industry was slowly picking up and I was more optimistic than ever about getting my foot in the door in aviation. 4 months later I finished the course, and once again began submitting resumes to operators and flight schools nationwide. My daily routine began with a trip to my local cafe, where I would open Google Maps, zoom in on airports around the country and send multiple resumes and cover letters per day over a cup of coffee. It certainly wasn’t easy, but after sending approximately 50 resumes (no exaggeration), I eventually secured an interview for a flight instructor position and in a matter of weeks found myself moving to a picturesque location on the coast of New South Wales only 4 hours from my home in Sydney. That sure beats the 4-hour flight, or 40+ hour drive from Darwin if you ask me!

kieran hagerty
After my first solo flight 

Where to from here?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time instructing so far, and for the first time in my short time as a pilot, I feel both content with where I am, and hungry for the next big challenge in my career. So, in the short term, I will take my time as I continue to master my craft as a pilot and instructor and work toward instructional upgrades, like my Grade 2 and Night Visual Flight Rules (NVFR) training endorsements. In the medium to long term, I will look to finish the 7 Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) exams and build my multi-engine and Instrument Flight (IF) hours so that when my time comes to step into an airline position, be it in 2 years or 5, I’ll be ready.

I can’t wait to start sharing my stories and experiences with you all and keeping you updated on my progress- I’m sure this journey will make for some excellent aviation content!

You can connect with Kieran on LinkedIn HERE:


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