G'day! and welcome to my blog's new home. I'd like to say a big 'cheers mate' to Clay for building me such a fabulous new house.

Here you will find my articles and blogs from the sky documenting my aerial adventure across Australia, and sometimes - when I'm very lucky - around the world!

Lots of airyplanes, plenty of new shoes and hopefully many undiscovered places.

Blue skies,

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bonanza On My Horizon

My love affair with the Bonanza started when I was a baby pilot of only a few hours. I was, and still am, pitiful at identifying aircraft. I suffer from mild prosopagnosia - an inability to remember faces - and the bizarre condition (which is a hazard in my job) seems to have smeared itself onto my ability to distinguish a Stearman from a Tiger Moth. But, put a Bonanza within three miles, and I'll spot it, identify it and beg the owner to take me for a spin...

My very first was IOL, at Hoxton Park, when I had fewer than 20 hours. My instructor, Nick Moss, introduced me to the pilot, Len, and within twenty minutes we were flying over the Blue Mountains. The gentlemanly Len (and they are always gentlemen, Bonanza pilots. Except for the ladies) even handed me the controls (although back then I wouldn't have known if the autopilot was engaged!)

I was smitten. With the grace of a Jaguar, the Bonanza invokes another era; a time when things were properly built, and men wore hats. Even the new ones, I have discovered, have a glorious feeling of history.

At my very first Avalon, Mr Bigg suggested I visit the Bonanza society and tee up an article. Again, within seconds I was sitting in a stylish 70s model, organising a flight with the owner David. Weeks later I flew to Redcliff to write a feature on this beautiful machine. We stood around, waiting for the cloud to lift and even though we didn't have a chance to demonstrate its long range capabilities, I was already hooked. It's love, I tell you. And it's not just me. Every Bonanza owner I've met feels the same way. They are all hooked.

 Beechcraft's slogan for the Bonanza, back in the day, was
"Buy your last aircraft first"

If only....

The Bonanza is out of my league in the same way as George Clooney is out of my league; with one subtle difference - as I get older and more experienced, my chances with the Bonanza improve, in direct proportion to my chances with the Silver Fox, who will forever covet (and win) younger women.

Hurrah for aviation and its appreciation of things mature!

Since the article, I've met (okay, stalked) many a Bonanza owner. So, you can imagine my delight when I received an email from Bevan Anderson of Avplan, inviting me to a tutorial in Wollongong, with the offer of being picked up and flown down in a Bonanza. IFR!

As we approached the aircraft (with the WAY cool call sign PMP) I was once again in awe; the fine lines, the club seating, the attention to tiny deals - sigh...solid, fast, good-looking - everything one desires in an aircraft...

We made Wollongong in 19 minutes. I wanted to fly it so much it hurt! Of course, I didn't touch a thing. To be allowed to fly a Bonanza is a privilege, and one I've yet to earn (and of course, first I will have to earn the money, to entitle me to the time, to gain me the experience...)

There are many exciting aircraft in Wollongong, home of HARS (Historical Aircraft Restoration Society) and even though they mostly looked the same to me (alright, I spotted an L39, and a Robin and was introduced to a pristine Grumman Cougar with the even cooler call sign of OMG) I would take the Bonanza over all of them.

After the tutorial and sausage sizzle, we headed back to Bankstown by night. There, in the still calm night air, with Sydney on the horizon, I promised myself to keep the Bonanza on my horizon.
I may not have earned it yet, as a 500 hour VFR pilot with a limited income, but, one day....one day....

And then maybe George Clooney will be calling ME...