A career path less travelled
E.B. Jeppesen, the pioneer flier, once said, “There’s a big difference between a pilot and an aviator. One is a technician; the other is an artist in love with flight”. Jeppesen may well have foretold the story of Flight Lieutenant James Tockuss, a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A captain, and the founder of Retropilot, a Brisbane-based design business that makes unique retro-style stickers for modern aviation enthusiasts. Tockuss’ flying and entrepreneurial journey highlights that a life guided towards combining passion with profession, supporting vocation with a mission, leads to happiness and ongoing success, regardless of setbacks on the way.
Having decided to pursue an Air Force piloting career after attending the RAAF Richmond Airshow in 2006, Tockuss earned his RAAF ‘Wings’ in 2014 and was streamed onto fast jets. With classy humility, Tockuss’ admission at “not being a particularly good fighter pilot” in not completing Super Hornet conversion is overshadowed by his 1,300 hours on the C-17, flying to places throughout Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and even Antarctica. While appreciating his current “magnificent aeroplane” in the C-17, and the satisfaction in performing missions with professional and close crews, Tockuss fondly reflects with pride and enjoyment at having given the fast jet course a go, getting as far as soloing in a Super Hornet.
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