Mark Tatton hails from the scenic town of Launceston, Tasmania. Mark has always had a love of flying and a deep passion for understanding and investigating how things work, something which frequently brought him up to the cockpits to meet the captains and flight engineers of commercial airlines when he was a child. He loved all the lights and switches and all the things that made a plane fly, as well as the promise of adventure and travel that a career in flying offered. At age 16 he spied an ad from the Tasmanian Aeroclub promoting free BAK lessons. “I was too young to drive, so every Wednesday night my dad drove me out to the airfield to do my lessons.” Stepping up to manage the family cashmere goat farm, he was able to subsidise his training himself.
Instructing came naturally to Mark. By 18 he was employed as an Instructor and charter pilot for the Tasmanian Aeroclub. He had the privilege of setting up a couple of small flying schools and stretching himself flying and instructing in different types of planes for a range of smaller airlines. One such example was when Mark spent time as a pilot flying Twin Otters, Bandeirantes and Cessna 402s for SkyWest, traipsing between Kunnanurra and the Argyle diamond mine; as well as helping to save lives with the KingAir air-ambulance service out of Sydney. He got his big break in airlines with Ansett flying the 737. In short order Mark again found himself in the simulators, instructing the new recruits.
After the demise of Ansett, he was offered a role back flying the KingAir in Darwin with the Northern Territory Aeromedical Service. 9 months later he moved back to Melbourne with TAAE (Trans Australian Air Express) on the B727 where he did an 18-month stint flying national freight. According to Mark, this is where he really learned to understand how a jet flew. He spent some time with Virgin Blue before being offered a role with Emirates. He, and his young family, then moved across the globe to Dubai where they spent the next 8 years. During his time with Emirates, he became a member of their LOSA (Line Operational Safety Audit) committee and a sim instructor for the 777s. He occupied roles such as Captain, line training pilot, type-rating Instructor, before being invited to become an Examiner for Emirates.
With his eldest about to start high-school, Mark and his wife decided it was time to head back to Australia. Tiger was his ticket home and he returned in 2013. He remained with Tiger, eventually working his way through the ranks to become Alternate Head of Training and Training Manager for the 737s, until 2020 when COVID-19 hit the industry hard. At a bit of a crossroads, Mark knew his heart lay in training, and having met Josh and the team out at Adventure Flight Training one day, decided to try his hand at sports aircraft. He did his conversion, feeling that recreational Aviation was like getting back to basics, bringing him back to his original love – teaching people how to learn to fly. “In my experience, a good Instructor is one brings to life the ‘why’ in flying, and facilitating that learning journey.”
Mark’s instructing style is calm, thorough and inquisitive, wanting to understand how you as an individual student learns, thinks and processes information. He is a strong believer in the old-school model of practical, hands-on learning where, rather than rote-learning, students can build up a clear knowledge base in an environment that fosters trust and confidence, and above all – safety. “Building trust is crucial; creating a safe place to make errors and learn is necessary to understand people’s different learning curves, motivations and styles. At the end of the day, you can’t train for all circumstances, but you can build up a toolbox where you can pull out the experience and knowledge to deal with those challenges.”
When Mark isn’t flying around in a tiny light sports aircraft he can be found with tools in hand, gardening or building things, and figuring out how things work. Some things never change!