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


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Aeronautical Impotence

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. I have a confession to make:
it had been six months since my last in-command flight. 

Six whole months since I washed down a windscreen, drained fuel from a tank and removed a pitot cover. I had flown on the top of the Stearman, upside down in an Extra and interstate in a PC12, but I had not placed my feet on a pair of rudder pedals since December. And it’s not as if I could blame the weather. We’ve had the finest Autumn I can remember, with crisp blue days and light winds.

I was starting to feel ill.

It started with a general irritability; a short-tempered grumpiness upon hearing of others’ trips. I promised to book a flight as soon as possible but plans were scuppered by one thing or another – work, commitments, a medical renewal.

I started to feel actual physical pain.

Everyone else seemed to be flying but me. Facebook was full of people’s flight journeys and the circuit at Bankstown – directly above my office - was humming with joyful student activity. The flight path into Sydney, under which I had deliberately purchased a house, was mocking me now with its endless noise.

When I bit the bullet and booked an aircraft for an entire week, a strange series of events prevented me from taking it away. Shortly after, due to an unresolvable altercation, I decided it was time to move on from the club where I'd been renting.

As a consequence, I found myself aircraft-less.

It was during that very barren, PIC-free time that I learnt something about myself: I was deliberately sabotaging my own chances to fly. I was making excuses. Something had happened to which I was not prepared to admit: I had contracted a case of the av-willies. I was suffering from aeronautical impotence.

All month, while editing submissions to the magazine, reading tales of courage and determination, I realised I had lost mine. And I was forced to look at why. It took me a few days, but I got there in the end: somewhere along the line, since I’d become editor, I had become aware of my mortality.

It hit me like a force; an empty, scared feeling was sitting in the pit of my stomach. It was fear; the awareness that every time I take an aircraft into the sky, the only thing between myself and disaster is my landing. If I don’t land, I will die. It was (and I can’t believe I only started to feel this now, after five years of flying!) a pivotal moment.

I knew immediately I needed to get back in command, but when my headset and  GPS were stolen from my car, I saw it as a sign. A sign I should not be flying. I allowed the av-willies to spook me further, until I was almost impotent with fear.

And then, I had a phone call from a friend. Would l like to join her in some circuits at Camden? She had an aircraft for two hours, and was happy to split costs. She even offered to pick me up at my house and lend me a headset.

Anyone who has had an absence from flying will know how I felt: excited, trepidatious, a little bit scared. But strangely, the overriding feeling was one of belonging. As soon as I stepped into that little Warrior, it felt right; I was right where I was supposed to be.

Needless to say, the flight was magical. My skills were still there, a testament to my training. I could fly. Of course I could.

As I write this, a few days later, I can safely say that the antidote to aeronautical impotence is simply to fly. Perhaps my landings were not as graceful as they could have been, but my mortality was never in danger.

Sometimes, as a multi-national shoe giant declares, you have to ‘just do it’. I’m so glad I did.


  1. Yes, there comes a time when from Aeros, we tend to be kept at a distance, the magic of being in the air hides somewhere and the thoughts of going alone is an anchor to not go. Then the events happens and with someone else in the left seat, the magic gets at you to go alone again. Some pilots who fly each weekday and nights. Find it is a task and the event is to a known destination and a chore there on arrival. After a while they find other things to remove the task aspect of the week day job. Those who really love being able to fly alone, look forwards to the routine aspect of lining up as the start of yet another adventure privileged to those with the title of "Pilot In Command." You never lose the need to fly Kree. Its the mental attitude that changes how you see the view out the window when you're alone on the same track as yesterday or last week.

  2. So, did the "Land or die" realisation come *before* you recorded with us or during? (You used that line in our interview with you :) )

    1. During, I think. Either that, or my lines are getting tired ;)