Amongst the birthday presents Lloyd has bought me over the years have been a chainsaw, a brushcutter and a tractor. This year he outdid himself and bought me a trial introductory flight.
Lloyd has wanted to learn to fly for a long time and with a Recreational Pilot Certificate able to be done in a Light Sport Aircraft, it has made it accessible to do as a hobby rather than making the significant investment of time and money to do a Private Pilot Licence. While I personally toyed with the idea of a mid-life career change to aviation, really it was just to see if I could.
For me, every stage has been a challenge on a whole range of levels – fears to overcome; BAK and navigation to study; and the actual mechanics of learning to fly a plane. At each point I’ve doubted that I could do it but Damien and the team have been incredibly supportive and their belief in me has given me the confidence to pull it off. As for Lloyd, he had to go back to sea for four weeks at a time, twice during his flight training, so having such a long break between lessons left some catching up to do which was frustrating for him.
We both agree that the thing we’ve struggled with the most is going to sleep with Damien’s voice in our heads: ‘Right rudder, right rudder. More right rudder!’ I imagine it will haunt us both to the end of our days.
Lloyd has mastered land vehicles, ships at sea and now planes in the air. I’m hoping that some time in the future he masters the washing machine and vacuum cleaner.
There was no competition at all between us while we learnt to fly, however, I would like to point out that I DID pass my flight test before Lloyd. Okay so maybe there was just a little bit…
It has actually been a huge help to have someone who is going through the same experience as you at roughly the same time. At one stage or another, both of us wondered if this flying caper was beyond us, but fortunately not at the same time. So we’ve been able to give each other some encouragement on the days when the other didn’t seem to make any progress. As a ship’s captain, Lloyd navigates for a living, so it’s been a big bonus to have an in-house personal tutor to explain the dark art of navigation to me. And then there’s the mystery of how piston engines work ….
The big question now is who is going to get to sit in the left hand seat …
We’re both half way through our Cross Country endorsement at the moment so the immediate future revolves around diversions and track corrections. When we first decided to do this we agreed that we would always go one step further than the minimum required, so, longer term, we would plan to do our RPL. One thing that has become clear is that it will be a never-ending learning process. We’re keen campers so perhaps one day we’ll load some camping gear into the back of a plane and head west for some outback flying. The view from 5000 feet gives us earthbound humans a whole new perspective on the world in which we live.
We can’t speak highly enough of Damien and his GoFly team of instructors (Nathan, Brendan, Dan, Rob and Lui). There is no way that this would have happened without their professionalism, knowledge and encouragement and, importantly, their ability to pass that onto us. While GoFly wasn’t our closest flying school we are completely comfortable that we made the right choice for us.
Shelley Schweikert and Lloyd Cahill