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ServiceIQ Gateway fledgling to fully fledged pilot


On the day after passing her commercial pilot’s test, Bayleigh McGuire can’t quite believe her own story. This includes her solo flight earlier that week where she flew through the majestic Southern Alps and landed at Mt Cook, “and I’m still only 19 years-old!” she says.

When she was just 15, Bayleigh was the youngest and one of the first students to go on Service IQ’s Aviation Gateway Flying Programme for secondary school students.

That experience got her career off to a flying start. The talent she showed on Gateway helped her to get accepted into full-time training at Southern Wings Flying Academy. Now she’s close to becoming a fully-fledged pilot, with additional skills in tricky acrobatic manoeuvers – loops, rolls and spins.  

“It feels amazing,” says Bayleigh. “This is what it was all about and what it has all led up to. I’m stoked that all the hard work has paid off.”  

The Gateway programme also helped her choose her flight path – helicopter or fixed wing.

She’d dreamed of becoming a helicopter pilot like her grandfather and cousin. And her first helicopter flight to ‘Warbirds over Wanaka’ aged seven, made a strong impression. But a special event on Gateway changed her mind when she came top of the class. 

Her prize was another ride of her life, this time in a jump-seat with the pilots of an Air New Zealand 737. She flew from Christchurch to Queenstown, up to Auckland and back again. Since that day, Bayleigh has chosen the cockpit of a single wing aircraft as the way she likes to power through the sky and see the world.

“It was awesome! It seemed more challenging and exciting, and for me there are a lot more opportunities in fixed wing.”

For students who dream of becoming a pilot or training for a career in the aviation industry, the Gateway programme offers a unique experience that’s hard to beat. As well as the thrill of learning to fly, students get a feel for the wider world of flight in New Zealand.

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“Our instructor gave us a taste of everything in the aviation industry. We were really lucky to be able to go behind the scenes to meet the people – pilots, aeronautical engineers, air traffic controllers, airline stewards – and see the workplaces, which most people don’t have access to,” says Bayleigh, who is a passionate supporter of the Gateway programme that helped launch her career.


“I would recommend it to anyone who has even the slightest interest in the aviation industry because you get such a good opportunity to experience what it’s like. Everyone we met loved their jobs and loved coming to work each day."


ServiceIQ’s Aviation Gateway Flying Programme is open to Year 12 and 13 students with a minimum of Level 1 English and Maths, and a genuine motivation to train and succeed. If you think flying and aviation is in your DNA, and would like to find out if the course is right for you, talk to us at ServiceIQ.