From Fiji Times Online (5 August 2007)

Treasure Marshall overcomes woes

by Ana Niumataiwalu

Treasure Marshall ... long journey to become a pilot

EVER wondered what it was like to fly a sea plane or let alone land the aircraft in the ocean? Treasure Marshall does this as a nine to five job but admits every day is an adventure to look forward to.

He is the acting chief pilot with Pacific Island Seaplanes for the past five weeks but has the experience of flying float planes for the past five years.

He says he was privileged to be employed by Larry Simon, the owner of Pacific Island Seaplanes.

After completing secondary education at Tavua College, Treasure got a Public Service Commission scholarship to study Aerospace.

He opted for aeronautics after the first year.

"Aerospace was not only tough but there were no career opportunities here, unless you were a project manager for oil companies," he said.

"While in Sydney, I completed my studies in Foundation for Bachelor of science (Aerospace), TAFE, Dip Applied Science (Aeronautics), AXIS Aviation (Bankstown) and getting my commercial pilot's licence."

The float plane pilot said after completing his studies in Australia he took up the job at Turtle Airways initially after a bad spell in life.

He started off as a reservations officer and then as a dockhand, refuelling aircraft, loading cargo and bags on to planes and company barge.

"Prior to being asked to train as a float plane pilot, I already had a non-current Fiji CPL as no other local had a float endorsement. I took the opportunity where training took a week. I flew under supervision for a year before I was let loose alone carrying exclusive charter flights to Turtle Island and other resorts in Fiji.

"Whilst at Turtle Airways I was also made general manager, quality assurance manager and remained as a pilot for Turtle Airways for another four years. Major influences came from the directors of Turtle Airways and Turtle Island, namely Milika and Richard Evanson for the trust to run the airline and the opportunity to fly."

But the father of four said to get to where he is today came with struggle and hardship in his personal life.

Treasure was born and raised in the Gold town of Vatukoula from a family of miners.

The 33-year-old said his mother hails from Rilamlama, Juju, Rotuma while his dad was an Irishman who died after Treasure was born in PNG.

"I grew up with maternal great-aunts and grand-uncles Petero and Rosarie Vuan, aunts and uncles. I attended Vatukoula Convent where I was the dux of the school in 1987," he said.

From there he went on to do his secondary education at Tavua College from forms Three to Six, and Form Seven at Xavier College.

He said the best weekend breaks were spent at Vatia Wharf, fishing and camping with his grandpa Tui.

"Back in high school I was a member of the student council, a member of the school oratory which was a finalist in 1990 and member of the school quiz team for four years. But aunt had a strict inclination towards my studies.

"Prior to moving to Australia for a five year study program I took an oath with the parish priest to abstain from alcohol for five years. I stopped drinking alcohol at 18 years of age and resumed at 23.

"While in Sydney I worked part time in a bar in Sydney though I loved drinking kava. I spent Friday nights in Sydney drinking kava and watching the NRL Winfield Cup till Optus took over sponsorship due to the smoking ban on adverts and sponsorships. I watched Tina Turner perform Simply the best with Jimmy Barnes at the Sydney Cricket Grounds during finals in 1993.

The father of four said while studying in Sydney he persuaded a Japanese friend Takeshi Motoyama to do aviation with him.

"So we shared a flat at Narwee, fortunately for him, he attended the UNSW Aviation pilot program. I started two years after I got there while I worked in a bar as a doorman collecting entry fees, took part in pool comps, where I usually won $100," he said.

"I also worked at the flying school hangar cleaning aeroplanes to supplement my scholarship stipend as I had to pay for my rent and other bills. But my grandfather died just prior to my CPL theory and flight test.

"I came back home to bury him, then returned and had to pass the exams on the first go as visa was running out. Got my CPL on December 6, 1996 and returned on December 10, 1996. Never had money for an instrument rating, but have just managed to secure funds from Fiji National Provident Fund to complete that."