Welcome to my blog.

In 2008, I received a trial flight in a light aircraft - a flight which changed my life. After a mere thirty minutes in an asthmatic old Cessna, I decided I would become a pilot. It was love at first flight. As Leonardo Da Vinci famously said - Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

However, like any relationship, there were highs (and there were puns!) and there were many moments where I thought I would never grasp this new skill.

After fifteen instructors, six flying schools and enough tears to fill a dam, I became a private pilot. And, because of a strong masochistic streak, I decided to study for my Commercial Pilot's Licence.

This blog is a working narrative of my time as a pilot, through my personal writing, my round Australia trip and my career as an aviation journalist, magazine editor, customer engagement manager for AvPlan EFB and aircraft salesperson for Cirrus Sydney.

Aviation has changed my life: through learning to fly I have discovered a part of myself that is resilient, organised and capable of great joy as a result of hard work, setbacks and learning.

In the words of Socrates, “Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to email me with advice and suggestions on


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day Three

 Aha! I get to utter the sentence I loathe most in magazine submissions:

"after a hearty breakfast with mine hosts, Arthur and Marie-Laure, we set off to the airport under blue skies"

Actually, first the gorgeous Marie-Laure gave us a short tour of Brissy, showing us its oft-ignored splendid side. Poor Brissy (aka BrisVegas due to its proximity to the Gold Coast) gets a terrible rep as an ugly city, but I think its rather wonderful; always have. ML took us to the lookout, and from atop we saw a fairly dense city (population around 1.7m, I think), set on a river. The coastline is white beaches as far as one can see. It's not that Brissy is an ugly city; it isn't. It's just that it has to compete with Sydney, Melbourne and Perth (oh, and Adelaide, of course.) So for fun, I turned our major cities into girls, to see if I could make sense of them. Apologies for the departure from av-talk, but here's what I found:

Sydney is a glossy blonde - tall, slim, ambitious and well dressed
Melbourne is an arty brunette - curvy, funky clothes, black glasses, works in publishing
Brissy is a brassy blonde - slightly orange tan but a good ole traditional gal at heart
Adelaide - a frizzy redhead with slightly wonky teeth and glasses, mismatched clothes
Perth - a capable mousy brunette with sensible shoes
Hobart - the single, unmarried cousin made to sit at the children's table at weddings.

And now, it was time to leave Brassy Blonde's turf - where she has many civilized friends, and jazz clubs - and head up to her pretty, but slightly chavvy sister's territory - Maroochydore. Of course, the Sunshine coast has perhaps some of the most striking coastline on the east - it houses Noosa, playground of the cities' polo shirt/khaki short wearers, with some of the best restaurants in the country - and miles and miles of gorgeous beaches, dotted with holiday towns and, sometimes, palm trees.

As the day was forecast to be 35 degrees, we were airborne early - nothing worst than a portly man and a slightly chubby gal in a tin can in the midday heat. On the ground at Archie, in their fab deco terminal, I had a chance to discuss the departure with a flying school instructor. He told me I had no chance of clearance from the ground to depart over Brissy, so I decided to take the scenic VFR route, via Stradbroke island. It was gorgeous, but has a 12 miles stretch over water at 3500 ft, inspiring us to call ATC and ask for 5500, which we got.

The landing at Maroochy was peachy (although it was a little difficult to see the active runway, they did ask us which one we wanted) and already thirty two degrees. We tied down, and whilst Robbs visited some pals at Blue Tongue Helicopters, I went to hire a car.

In attempting to cross the ramp, I got told off by security, and told I had to go through the gate and round the back of the terminal. As I was wearing my ASIC ($182 of red plastic that I intend to get the USE out of, dammit) I claimed the same right as the airline pilot, who gets to cross the tarmac. Sheesh, flying a titchy little single engine aircraft surely doesn't make me a second class pilot, does it? Turns out it does.

I realised I was hot and grumpy and my coffee-o-meter was low. I hired a car, and declared tomorrow a dedicated no flying day. We then found an apartment overlooking the beach at Maloolaaba (or thereabouts), went for a swim in the 25 degree sea, and cracked open a bottle of wine.

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