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


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Five day trip with a Scotty

Day One

At last the weather is gorgeous and I have my very favourite flying chariot booked for a whole week.
My friend Robbs, with whom I travelled the States in a Grumman Tiger two years ago, is accompanying me on a trip up the coast. What started as a holiday has quickly morphed into work - with offers to fly all sorts of aircraft.

First stop Taree where we visited Ole Hartman's Australian Aircraft Kits factory (http://www.aircraftkits.com.au/). Ole custom makes every single aircraft in his workshop in Taree, aided by Brian, a former employee of deHavilland. Ole builds only all metal aircraft - the Rivet Ranger of Taree - mostly for the bush/outback market. I'd flown up to meet Bruce Scott - a truck drivin, pipe smokin cowboy - who'd ordered and assisted in the build of his very own Hornet. Today, Ole would take me flying in it.

After a tour of the factory, a cuppa and a yarn, I was introduced to Bruce's gal - the Hornet. She's a beaut - yellow, sturdy and very much the insect to look at, and, just like a hornet, she has a tail. Only this one has a wheel on it. Flashbacks of my tail wheel endorsement experiences - my taxiing like the product of a cut snake mating with a shopping trolley - ran through my mind, until I looked up and saw the calm Germanic face of Ole, who assured me he'd take the taxi (as the wind was picking up). Phew.

The Hornet is very comfy, and the massive Tundra tyres make entry easier. The first thing that amazed me was the forward visibility upon taxi. I've had to taxi tailwheels by looking out of the side window, but this had been taken into account by Ole who'd created in the Hornet an aircraft in which you could actually see over the nose on the ground!

Ole took the take off, thankfully (that wind really had picked up) and then handed over the controls. I was surprised at the low nose attitude in flight, and then very surprised by the aircraft's sedate nature. Bruce, a relatively low hour pilot with a trike background, requested a polite aircraft which would not lead him into any trouble. Ole delivered just that. With a 100hp Rotax, she's no slug, but is extremely well behaved and stable, just like a good woman should be.

Even more thankfully, Ole took the landing, as the wind was blowing right across the strip and the shear was shaking us around like milk. Ole didn't even frown, never mind break sweat or swear, as I do on a crosswind landing. He merely landed her long, to avoid the burbly from the hangars half way down the strip, and then pulled up neatly. No sweat at all.

On the ground Bruce was grinning as if his sweetheart had returned from a long holiday. I thanked him for letting me loose in his baby, and gushed over her sweet nature.

The wind had picked up enough to have me frowning, so Robbs and I made a swift refuelling and departed for Ballina.

1 comment:

  1. "work - with offers to fly all sorts of aircraft".... I want your job.