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Instructor Profile – Richard Lange

Airways Training Instructor Richard Lange has taught students from over 10 countries over the past six years, and has travelled to Kuwait, Vietnam, and the UAE during his time as an instructor. He shares a little bit about himself below…


Before becoming an instructor in 2016, you were an Air Traffic Controller. What led you to join the aviation industry and become a controller?

I have always had a fascination with aeroplanes and the perceived freedom of flying. This interest led me to get my private pilot’s licence while I was in high school so I could enter the Air Force. My mother, however, mailed me a newspaper cutting for Air Traffic Control training. I applied for the program and got accepted about 32 years ago and as they say – the rest is history!

What memorable moments do you have from your ATC training?

I don’t often reflect on the study I completed or what I learnt, but rather the people I trained alongside. I still have strong ties with them and keep in touch. Some of them, like me, are still a part of the Air Traffic Control sector.

What was your experience like as an Air Traffic Controller?

I jumped in and out of control towers and radars centres throughout New Zealand. During my time within the operational environment, I was always instructing in some way or another. I have no specific memories that stand out, however, working with students who have had significant hurdles to overcome and have succeeded are memorable, you don’t forget those moments.

What led you to transition from being a controller to an instructor with Airways Training?

I was approached by our Manager of Training, Kelly de Lambert, and offered the opportunity to join the team. As I could no longer work as an operational controller due to medical reasons, this role was the perfect fit. It allowed me to continue working in the air traffic control sector and continue the rewarding experience of training students

What do you enjoy most about being an instructor?

I have had the privilege of teaching students from over 10 countries and have been able to deliver courses in Kuwait, Vietnam, and the UAE. Students with good personalities, willingness to learn and overcome challenges are enjoyable to instruct. Often finding ways to help these students succeed by adapting my training to their cultural needs and individual students’ learning style leaves an impression.

If you could give any advice to future ATC students, what would that be?

I spent some time thinking about this as I thought this was an important question. My three pieces of advice, from my own experience, would be:

  1. Be prepared to give it (your training) everything you’ve got
  2. It’s short-term pain for long-term gain
  3. Learn from the experienced people around you – draw from their experience and learn from their mistakes

What do you think aviation will be like in 10 years, any guesses?

In New Zealand, we’re currently encouraged to work from home if we can, which I’ve been doing. Seeing how this is possible with the sophisticated technology we have now, like our AKO virtual courses, I wouldn’t be surprised if our airspace is controlled remotely by people at home on secure networks. No matter what happens due to the nature of aviation, you must be flexible with however it evolves and try to stay ahead of the curve.

Finish this sentence – If I’m not at work, you will find me…

As the world moves into a post-Covid environment, you’ll see me travelling, on or in the water, or spending time with friends and family.