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ANGELA
GARVEY

Founder and Director 

Keynote Speaker and Presenter

Specialist Aviation Counsellor

Commercial Pilot

Angela’s founding of Navigating Aviation was profoundly influenced by her personal experience of a devastating plane crash in her business that tragically resulted in the deaths of the pilot and four others. This service, specialising in aviation counselling and business support, is tailored for members of the aviation community, along with their families and friends.

 

With over 30 years of experience in the aviation industry, including roles as a general aviation business owner/operator, senior pilot, safety manager, regulatory specialist and airport manager, Angela has established considerable credibility within the industry. Her extensive background and proactive approach make her a visible, influential and strong advocate for change.

 

In Australia, General Aviation businesses form the back of the aviation industry yet often lack dedicated support structures or HR teams. This shortfall exposes business owners and leaves employees, students, and apprentices without a reliable source of support when facing challenges, posing a significant psychosocial safety risk.

 

The purpose of Navigating Aviation is to address this critical gap, providing essential support within the industry.

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Angela’s aviation journey began early in her life with skydiving. She subsequently completed over 1000 jumps and became co-owner and co-director of a highly successful skydiving operation on the outskirts of Brisbane, Australia. Angela commenced flight training in 2004, attaining her Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) and adding “jump pilot” to her already long list of responsibilities in the business. She would soon achieve her Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL), sparking aspirations outside her business to fly commercial jets.

These aspirations halted on the morning of the 2nd of January 2006 when one of their skydiving aircraft crashed with seven people on board. The pilot, two tandem instructors and two tandem passengers were fatally injured. Life for Angela and many others close to the accident would never be the same again after that horrific day. The ongoing effects of this profoundly traumatic and life-changing tragedy continue to reverberate through their lives, even to this day.

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For many months after the accident, Angela put on a brave and stoic front. She held it together for her family, the business and the community; but at times she became disappointed that no immediate industry support was available. Angela felt alone and that nobody understood the grief and guilt that she was going through.

She continued flying and managing the business because this was all that she knew and it was her families only source of income, but the resilience and faux bravado she had relied upon up until that point eventually reached its limit and the trauma finally caught up with her. Two people living under the same roof with undiagnosed and untreated PTSD meant that the relationship broke down, and the business partnership broke down. Angela was forced to stop her love of flying and halt any airline career aspirations. 

It wasn't until 12 years after the accident that she hit her lowest point and finally reached out for support. Through talking openly about her experiences, Angela noticed that many others in the industry had begun reaching out to her for support and guidance.

From first-hand experience, Angela knows that while airlines and larger aviation organisations provide counselling, employee assistance and peer support programs, specialist assistance is not readily available to many in the broader aviation community.

That's how Navigating Aviation was born - a specialist aviation counselling and business support service that aims to remove the barriers to receiving confidential and professional support in the aviation industry.

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In late 2020, Angela was finally able to begin enjoying flying again, and she returned to her beloved aviation community. Having hardly flown for over a decade, she has since gone on to achieve her aerobatic and formation endorsements. 

Her recent achievement of being selected as a Freedom Formation Airshow Display Team member to perform at the upcoming prestigious International Pacific Airshow on the Gold Coast in August 2024 is a testament to her unwavering determination and skill. 

Angela's moto: "Young girls must see female pilots and aircraft engineers in order to envision themselves in such roles, while young boys must recognise it as a norm - the cycle of inequity need not persist." 

The Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) and Viva Energy Australia also acknowledged Angela's leadership and dedication to advancing aviation at the March 2024 RAAA National Convention. This peer-reviewed accolade recognises her significant industry leadership.

Angela has also been 'anonymously' nominated for the Female Aviation Leader of the Year at the upcoming Australian Aviation Industry Awards 2024, which will be announced on 29 August.

"Embracing your own vulnerability and reaching out for support is actually a strength, not a weakness.”

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