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, August 8, 2013

Cactus Mountain and Hercules Canyon

....and the Yankee life continued, with a short hop to Tuscon - where I met a very interesting lady called Barb, a traveller who considers herself 'home free' rather than homeless - before rocking up at the car hire counter to discover I'd be upgraded - to a convertible Mustang!!

I drove (gingerly, in the rain and the dark, at about 30mph) to Loews, the lovely hotel I'd booked in the canyon and managed to get myself so completely lost trying to find the front entrance that I had to be rescued by a young man who was on his way back to staff HQ. Curious as to why a 41 year old woman was wondering around a staff carpark towing a lurid suitcase, he guided me to front desk and sent someone to retrieve my car (which I had parked over two spaces). I was kindly upgraded to a suite, and repaired to bed straight away.

In the morning, as I drew back the thick, luscious curtains, I saw immediately that I was in Arizona 'proper'. Ahead of me was a spectacular mountain, embedded with cacti. It looked exactly like a Roadrunner cartoon. With the day shaping up to be 'scorchio' (that's over 40 on my barometer) I threw open the roof of the Stang, and made for the air-conditioned bliss of the PIMA Air and Space Museum.

At the museum, I was (very kindly) given a tour by the museum's Director of Marketing and Visitor Services, Mary Emich, a woman with a vision for this non-government funded museum. With the enthusiasm and passion I so love to see in aviation, Mary showed me around the main hangar, introducing me to some of the volunteers who form the backbone of the museum, as guides, tour operators and restorers.

I can't go into too much detail here, as I intend to compile a feature for Australian Pilot, but suffice to say, a wonderful, wonderful day was spent. First, among the hangars, where I quickly found my very favourite aircraft! Secondly, I embarked on a tour, led by the most fabulous tour guide who was an ex-fighter pilot in Nam. His sparkling and unique commentary kept me riveted for the entire one hour tour,

where we visited every aircraft outside the museum by open-top bus. After the tour, I revelled in the aviation themed cafe before touring WWII hangars, the nose art and the Space Center.

Of course, everyone knows the highlight of a visit to PIMA is the tour of the boneyard: the military controlled ground where over 4,000 aircraft go to die. I cannot express my awe (and sense of sadness) in seeing rows upon rows of defunct aircraft, groaning in the sun and rotting to death. However, our tour guide, one of the many fabulous military men with moustaches, pointed out that many of the aircraft are donors, there to provide parts to allied countries who are still flying some of the fabulous ancient birds. It reminded me very much of Ishiguru's story of the orphans who are cloned for their organs, until I was made to remember that these aircraft had had full and exotic lives.

With that, I visited the gift shop, threw back the roof of the Stang again, and went to admire the boneyard from the road. With the sun setting on rows and rows and rows of C130s, backdropped by the cactus-y mountain, I felt perfectly content. And very much ready to eat a whole plate of Quesadillas.

1 comment:

  1. Loved to see how your doing out there. Seems that all is going so perfectly well for you. Do you think they'll let you keep the Mustang if you tell them it's your birthday tomorrow (that's based on China time not wherever you are in USA time)? If they say yes, and you really don't want it, pop will take it off your hands. Coming to the end of your trip now and it seems you've had a wondertime - so glad. Have a great birthday, daughter and travel back safe and comfortably next week. Pop.