From chance encounter to career success

AME scholarship recipient Spencer Holmes works on a Cessna C208B Grand Caravan at Seair Pacific Aviation. Image: supplied.

Scholarship recipient Spencer Holmes on his maintenance industry trajectory

A serendipitous stroll through his current workplace marked the beginning of Spencer Holmes’s journey into engineering.

Spencer, a recipient of CASA’s aircraft maintenance engineer scholarship program, found himself uncertain about his career path after high school. Despite his proficiency with hands-on tasks – including rebuilding his bicycle on the weekends – it was a visit to Seair Pacific Aviation, a tourism and charter operation on the Gold Coast, that ultimately set him on his career trajectory.

‘I witnessed what a day in the life of an aircraft engineer involves,’ Spencer explains. ‘It was so intriguing and a different side of mechanics that I’d never been exposed to. That opportunity inspired me to delve deeper into the aviation field and the Seair team even allowed me to do some work experience with them while I was studying.’

COVID challenge

Spencer, like the entire global aviation industry, then faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘I’d just finished my theory at [training organisation] Aviation Australia and was ready to get a job when the pandemic hit,’ he says. ‘I was very disheartened after months of trying to get a foot in the proverbial door, but Seair’s chief pilot Peter Gash once again threw me a lifeline.

‘I then worked hard to finish my apprenticeship and in 2 and a half years I tried to capture as much knowledge as I could. I wanted to soak up as much experience as possible, reaching out to other leaders in the industry, where I was able to get some further work experience with Lifeflight Australia, Air Gold Coast and Premiair.’

Now fully employed, when asked what the challenges of the job are, Spencer thoughtfully admits that while there are tough days, ‘they don’t define the overall experience of the job’.

‘Challenges arise but you learn and adapt,’ he says. ‘With the right mindset and the willingness to learn those challenges will become pivotal points in your career that will help you succeed.

Pride and resilience

‘Resilience and the ability to accept constructive criticism is key. Because at the end of the day it’s not about you, it’s about the safety of those who are flying in the aircraft you’re working on.

‘Being a team player is a huge part of the job. You need to be able to work collaboratively and rely on other people when on the big jobs. Another quality is being diligent and strict with procedures as this is the most important part of the job.’

Spencer recalls the pride he felt upon winning the scholarship, which provided him with the opportunity to continue along his burgeoning career path.

‘I felt a sense of accomplishment and recognition as I had worked so hard to get my apprenticeship completed,’ he explains, ‘and I had put in the extra time and effort before my apprenticeship to set up my foundation in the industry.

‘I work hard every day to better my career and learn as much as possible, so this was a huge financial relief and gave me the tools to keep following my path.

‘My goal with the scholarship is to complete my B1.1 licence, which is something I have already been working towards. After that, I’d like to keep pushing forward – whether that be different type ratings or working with new innovative technology within the field. I am excited to see what the future holds.’

The Coolangatta born and bred AME believes that this career path is ideal for individuals who are passionate about aircraft and aviation or those who excel in practical environments.

‘My advice is to network and establish connections in the industry so you can draw from their knowledge and experience,’ he says. ‘Ask to do work experience at different companies while you study. I was lucky enough to do this with Seair before I was employed by them, and it helped me tremendously.’


  1. Congratulations Spencer, you understand, a good work ethic, understanding, flexibility and persistency leads to great opportunities in aviation.


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