How a scenic flight turned into a high flying career for Callum

WA tourism hospitality jobs Callum
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“I remember sitting in the left seat, looking over at the pilot who I’m now good friends with and thinking, ‘I reckon he’s having a lot more fun than I am.’”

Callum Mackellar was in his early 20s when a lightbulb moment on a scenic helicopter flight inspired him to take off on a completely different career path. Now, at just 25 years old, he’s living and working across Western Australia while flying people around some of our most beautiful and remote locations.

Callum’s one of many young West Aussies who’ve chosen a dream career in our state’s tourism and hospitality industry, a decision that sees him now living and working in parts of Western Australia that tourists from around the world are blown away by.

WA tourism hospitality jobs Callum

“It was a move I made to get the lifestyle I wanted, which was living in cool locations, doing fun things that involve the outdoors and nature,” he tells us from the pilot’s seat of a helicopter high over the Great Southern coastline.

“I can’t think of anything else that’d be better than that.”

Learn more about Callum’s story below, and head to our Dream Careers Hub to explore opportunities for your own rewarding career, one filled with adventure, meaning and endless possibilities.

Table of contents:

How’d you get into this career?

Following the scenic helicopter flight mentioned above, Callum decided it was time for an air-change and left his desk-bound marketing role.

“When it struck me that my career could give me a life of adventure and travel, plus get paid to experience bucket list moments daily, I knew I had to take the leap.”

After selling his car to finance his new adventure, Callum completed his helicopter license in Kununurra (Goonoonoorrang) with HeliSpirit (via an online, self-study package, followed by flight training), the opportunity arose to head south and work for Scenic Helicopters in Albany (Kinjarling), where he’s currently based.

And the rest is history: “A job popped up that was initially down in Margaret River, but there was talk of a base in Albany starting up, and Jackson McLeod the owner/chief pilot (pictured with Callum below) was interested in sending me there to run it and to operate from there.”

CAREER STEPPING STONES
1.

Worked in an office marketing role

2.

'Lightbulb moment' on a scenic flight

3.

Online study & flight training for heli license

4.

On-the-job experience in Kununurra

5.

Operates scenic helicopter tours in Albany

What’s a typical day look like for you?

While flying tourists around some of the world’s most pristine beaches and spectacular landscapes is obviously a big part of Callum’s role, working in tourism has also meant plenty of upskilling on-the-job, including location scouting in the helicopter, interacting with customers, creating flight paths, scheduling, maintenance, and more.

WA tourism hospitality jobs Callum

Callum begins every day by driving to Albany airport where he fires up the helicopter and flies to his base at the Albany Town Jetty. There’s no typical day for him as his career could take him anywhere, from dropping people off at secluded beaches or day spas, to flying them around on specialised winery tours.

Each day presents new and exciting opportunities to experience Western Australia that many people may never even see in their lifetime: “If we have all the appropriate approvals in place then we can take you to a beach, drop you off in your backyard, or fly over your house. Whatever you want the helicopter for, we can potentially make it happen.”

WA tourism hospitality jobs Callum

Who are some of the people you get to work with?

There’s never a lonely day for Callum, whether it’s mapping routes with Jackson, flying guests around the Great Southern or working with other tourism businesses.

“Everyone is looking to help each other out,” says Callum of the region’s tourism industry as a whole. “The helicopter companies are going to be good friends with the whale watching company, which is going to be good friends with the coffee shop that operates next door to it…

“They’re all going to talk to each other and help each other out… Everyone knows what’s going on in the region, wherever it is you’re operating from.”

WA tourism hospitality jobs Callum

Callum also spends a lot of time meeting potential customers at Scenic Helicopters’ kiosk on Albany Town Jetty, offering his expert advice on different routes or even just his personal favourites.

“People ask about what flights we offer and I give them recommendations on what flight would be best for that day’s weather, or sometimes people just want to know what I enjoy as they’ll probably enjoy it too.”

WA tourism hospitality jobs Callum

Best parts of the job?

Seeing the positive impact these flights can have on people, combined with the stunning locations he explores every day, is a dream combination for Callum.

“There’s always someone who’s a bit too scared to go – but then they end up loving it and they wish they were flying for longer! So that’s pretty rewarding for me in terms of favourite experiences. The Dam in Denmark has been one of the most enjoyable places I’ve landed at, and it’s right near Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks.” 

The flexibility provided by being able to live and work across Western Australia’s tourism towns is a huge plus for Callum. Through his career, he gets to enjoy places that tourists pay to stay in and explore.

“The best part about working in all these locations is that it lets me enjoy what that place has to offer,” he says. “My career definitely gives me a good balance of lifestyle and work, with time to explore.”

WA tourism hospitality jobs Callum

Your advice for getting into tourism?

Given Callum took the plunge on a career change at such a young age, you won’t be surprised to learn he’s all for doing the same.

“Look, don’t wait on it,” he says enthusiastically. “I think making that decision to build a career from a young age is a good move. So if you’ve got youth on your side, don’t be afraid to take that leap to add adventure to your life; you just can’t go wrong if it’s something you enjoy.”

Keen to start your own adventure? Head to westernaustralia.jobs/dreamcareer to explore job opportunities, career inspiration, benefits, pathways, perks, possibilities and much more.