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, July 31, 2013

A Yankee Life for Me

...Sedona was nothing short of fabulous.

The whole town is orange with the glow of the mountains, and nestled in every nook and cranny is an arty little shop. Kevin, a man of Christian faith, drove me up a mountain to see the most magnificent and unusual church. It was truly mind blowing to see, and perched up there on a mountain peak, looking down into a canyon, I momentarily wished I felt faith in something greater than the mere random hotpotch that I consider life to be.  

We lunched at The Hideaway, an Italian cafe overlooking the canyons, where once more I became overwhelmed by the choice available in American restaurants - fourteen different salad dressings; twelve different sodas!

Having rented the car for only two hours, we headed back to Sedona airport - and the cowboys, Jason and Jay - constantly looking up at the towering clouds and congratulating ourselves, in that way all pilots do, for not going. I recited the ole, 'it's better to be down here wishing you were up there, than up there wishing you were down here' adage to Kevin, who claimed not to have heard it before (but he might have been being polite!)

Sedona airport - scarily perched on a mountain

Having refuelled at Sedona (the FBO filled her up for us. Did I mention I love America?) we were ready to depart pretty much straight away. With Sedona being a CTAF, we taxied out without any holdup. Upon the taxi call, Kevin said, "Cessna N5068E, holding short runway 21, any traffic on base or final, please make yourself known," which I thought was brilliant. I'd never thought to ask any traffic at a CTAF to speak up, and appreciated immediately how much safer Kevin's method was, than mine, of just looking for traffic.

After take off, we climbed straight into the burbly. We were hot, high (density altitude pushing 7500ft) and turbulent, but able to climb quickly and ascend past the worst. The journey back was spectacular; my words fail in doing justice to the magnificence of the scenery, and I'm afraid my photos aren't even close in illustrating how stunning the area is. We flew to Mount Superstition (there's a legend about gold on the top) and then home, towards Chandler, all the while chatting and comparing the difference in terminology between flying here and back in Australia.

Upon our return, I mentioned to Kevin that I would like to fly some circuits (or 'shoot some laps') to acquaint myself with Mr Floaty the 172, so he called inbound for circuits. Kevin was utterly convinced he could teach me to land the 172 without any float, and convinced me to pull to idle on base and apply absolutely no power unless necessary. Blow me down, it worked. I flew four very successful (although far from perfect) circuits, with the pesky Cessna behaving like a mild-manner Cherokee on every landing.

As we flew the final circuit, I said, "call the tower and request a glide approach. Let's see if I can land Mr Floaty from downwind!" Kevin declared a glide approach doesn't need tower approval in the US, so I pulled back to idle and made for the field. "Whatcha doing?!" asked Kevin, slightly ruffled. "A glide approach," I declared. "Ohhhh. That's not a glide approach! That's a short approach! That requires tower approval!"

There, right on base, was a fabulous example of an aeronautical language barrier! As I'd pretty much started, Kevin let me fly the approach, which ended in a successful landing, and I taxied back, triumphant. Not only had I had one of the most splendid days of the year, but I'd landed a 172, repeatedly, without any float. To say I was stoked would be an understatement.

After a long chat with Kevin, Jason (the school owner) and a very sardonic LAME, I asked for my bill, with baited breath. We'd flown nearly four hours, which in Australia, with an instructor, would exceed $1,200. When Jason printed out my account, I nearly fainted. $560!!!

There and then, and not for the last time, I declared I am not going back to Australia. At those prices, I could afford to rent a Bonanza - or maybe even, dream of dreams, afford to own one. I drove home (on the right side of the road, all the way) to a musical rendition of It's a Yankee Life for Me...

1 comment:

  1. We've got a date in February, remember? In Sydney. No emigration before then! :-)