Kids, cattle and customised training

Erryn passes flight test

I live on a cattle property with my husband and our three children. Having grown up on the Sunshine Coast, the distance and time it takes us to travel to any event, due to our location, has always been a huge frustration of mine. Our location means that we miss out on a lot of family and social events, mainly due to travel time and cost (flying with kids). In the back of my mind I have always thought about being able to fly, however we thought the cost of obtaining my pilot licence and owning a plane would be too much.

One day we had a visitor coming from five hours away. When he rang me and we calculated the time his trip would take, taking into account travel time, he questioned whether we had a maintained airstrip. I answered yes. The following morning he messaged me at 7am to say he was taking off and would land in one hour. I sat at the airstrip and watched him land. It was at that exact moment that I knew I had to do it. I spent that morning quizzing our visitor about cost, planes, etc. That afternoon I started my research and within two weeks I had been for a fly with a local pilot and booked in to start my Recreational Pilot Certificate course.
I have family on the Sunshine Coast so I needed a flight school on the Coast so I had access to accommodation and also so that my family could help out with my kids while I was flying. Due to our location I needed a flight school with the ability to accommodate me attending in one or two week blocks as a full time student. I also wanted a school which allowed customisation for the modules which I personally wanted and needed for the flying that I’ll be doing. This ensured that I wasn’t spending money on a locked-in package that I didn’t necessarily require. The information and customised training provided by GoFly has been fantastic and the option to have my first solo flight on video is something that I will treasure forever.
My remote location and young family were the main challenges in learning to fly. Each block of training meant being 10 hours away from home and working around my children and their commitments, my husband’s work and relying on my family on the Sunshine Coast being able to assist. My youngest daughter had not ever spent a day away from me so this proved to be a huge challenge for both her and myself. There was also obviously the additional financial impact of the cost of staying at the coast.
When it came to the flying itself, the main challenge was landing. I became very frustrated with the length of time I felt like I was ‘stuck’ in circuits trying to become competent with the final ‘piece of the puzzle’. The other challenge was with the weather. When you do a block of training it doesn’t allow flexibility around the weather. This meant that during one week I missed out on three days of training. This is something which I knew to expect.
Currently we are saving up and doing research for buying our first plane. My current list of willing passengers isn’t very long but I am sure over the next few years that list will grow and the convenience and time-saving positives will outweigh any hesitation that they have. We plan on being able to say ‘yes’ to a lot more events and functions and not being restricted so much by our location. When our children head off to boarding school we will be able to attend their school events and not miss out on those important life events due to distance.

Erryn Roberts

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