‘I had a fear of flying, every time I would hit turbulence in a commercial jet my stomach would go into knots and I’d be waiting for the plane to crash. It was totally irrational, but I couldn’t shake it. It was affecting me every time I knew I had a flight coming up, so I finally decided to do something about it. I decided the best way to overcome this fear was to learn how to fly.
I looked around online at schools with a strong social media presence. For me, being a filmmaker I wanted to document my experience and turn it into something that others could watch and hopefully enjoy. Every key word I entered into google seemed to point to GoFly, so I gave them a call and explained what I wanted to do. I met with Damien and explained how I was feeling and what I wanted to achieve and we worked out a plan for me to follow And I began lessons the next week.
By the time I went solo I was totally ready for it. It took me three attempts before Damien was confident I was safe to fly by myself. Flying solo had been my ceiling, and now in the space of one circuit it was my new baseline. It was a totally gratifying experience. I will never forget my first solo, because I filmed it and can watch it whenever I feel like it. It’s a memory I’ll cherish forever. I think the thing to remember about learning to fly is that it’s not a race. There might be others who started around the same time as you but don’t be concerned by their progress. We all learn at different speeds and in different ways. Just relax and enjoy your journey.
After you go solo things progress very quickly. You complete a couple more circuits, then an area solo and before you know it you’re getting ready for a flight test. The journey up to the first solo seems so far away, but equally, the training after your first solo goes by so quickly.
Part of going further has been my involvement in G.A. (General Aviation) and working to add more endorsements and classes of licence to my experience while also volunteering to film for AOPA and assist them to capture footage that can be shared with the wider aviation community. It’s important to have a strong and vibrant G.A. community as it not only provides a pool of pilots, instructors, LAMEs and other associated professionals, but the services they provide directly affect people living in the outback and remote areas which is especially close to my heart. My dad is from the bush and I spent some of my formative years of my childhood living at the Burdekin Dam while it was being constructed which gave me an appreciation of just how remote some places are.
I recently competed in the Outback Air Race, a triennial flight navigation race, raising money for the Royal Flying Doctors. The race is not about how fast you can get from A to B but how accurately you can navigate. Pilots are judged on how close they are to the time they nominated and how close they are to the GPS beacon while maintaining a consistent height. This year the race began in Brisbane and concluded in Broome. The total round trip is approximately 5000 nm, and of course we filmed it to make a series about the adventure.
If you’re asking yourself ‘Do I have what it takes to learn to fly?’, all I can say is, you won’t know until you pick up the phone and book your first flight. Who knows, it may just change your life the way it has changed mine. Once you have tasted flight you will be forever looking up, and the words you will find yourself saying are ‘Wow, it looks like a good day to be in the air.’