Steve Padgett behind the controls of an Ansetts TRU Beechcraft King Air 350i simulator at the Sunshine Coast Airport.
Steve Padgett behind the controls of an Ansetts TRU Beechcraft King Air 350i simulator at the Sunshine Coast Airport. John McCutcheon

OAM is well-earned reward for service to aviation

AN absolute passion for flying from a young age that drove a lifetime commitment to the aviation section has been recognised in the awarding of an Order of Australia medal to Alliance Airlines co-founder Steve Padgett.

It's a passion that despite his 71 years shows no sign of dissipating.

The non-executive chairman of the now publicly-listed Alliance Aviation Services also was founder and remained managing director of Flight Options (Australia) Pty Ltd, Universal Training Systems and SJP Aviation Pty Ltd also finding time to sit on the Australian Air Force Cadets National Council and to chair the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame.

Mr Padgett's industry service has also been recognised through life membership of the Regional Aviation Association of Australia.

The Fokker 70 Corporate Airline touches down at the Sunshine Coast Airport. The airline was previously owned by the Dutch Royal Family and will now operate under contract with Alliance Airlines. Chief Executive Officer of Alliance (blue shirt) Lee Schofield and Managing Director of Flights Options Steve Padgett.
Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Airlines Lee Schofield and Alliance non-executive chairman Steve Padgett take the controls of a Fokker 70 Corporate Airline previously owned by the Dutch Royal Family. Patrick Woods

By the time he arrived on the Sunshine Coast in 1995 from Bankstown Airport to develop Aeromil Mr Padgett already had acquired a broad span of industry experience and contacts that would lead to the establishment of Aeromil, Sunshine Express in 1998 and to the establishment of the Singapore Flying College Advanced Jet Training facility for Singapore Airlines.

That set up, which included two state-of-the-art full motion flight simulators and four jet training aircraft and maintenance support services, ran until Singapore Airlines relocated its training operations in 2013.

His flight simulator business now services the RAAF, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and airlines in Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. A recent delegation from Egypt would result in 10 pilots travelling to the Sunshine Coast for simulator training.

Rather than reflecting on a lifetime of achievement and success in a high stakes industry that has seen many founder, Mr Padgett is now looking to discover and nurture young people with a passion to fly.

The Flight Options Pilot Academy headed by Chief Flight Instructor Tim Holland offered a program that takes student pilots from the beginning of training through their development and into employment.

The intent was to also offer full scholarships to those with a passion for flying but lacking the means to pay for training. It was Mr Padgett's own passion that secured the RAAF scholarship to launch his own career in aviation.

"We've never received a subsidy (from government), never asked for one and never wanted one," he said.

"We can build this into something special."

Mr Padgett who has more than 3000 hours flying experience in everything from gyroplanes to business jets hasn't taken the controls for eight years, too focused on his business interests to give it the attention required. Married to Lorraine he has two children, Lorraine a successful events manager and Darren who followed his father's footsteps into aviation and serves as a Qantas captain with more than 30 years flying experience.