Aero Junkies

The month of April passed in a blur. I learnt how to fly straight and level, how to climb and descend  and just this week I learnt more about turning.  Greg moved onto stalls (!), taking off and landing, and is now doing circuits.  This is where you practise all the basics over and over for that exciting/terrifying day when you fly your first solo. Flying is very much about repetition; mastering the new skills until they become second nature.

The incessant yawning and heavy feeling (a bit like jet lag), that has plagued me after each flight, has now vanished. I continue to take tablets to keep my wobbly tummy at bay but no longer feel claustrophobic in the cockpit. I still come away from each lesson drenched in sweat and shaky, and some flights are better than others but on the whole, I am making progress!

Somewhere in those mad weeks we also sat and passed our compulsory BAK (Basic Aeronautical Knowledge)  exam! Full credit to Andrew and Liz for putting together the training nights where they imparted the mysteries of aviation in a way we novices could understand and enjoy. Thank you!

and so here we are….

When we aren’t flying, we’re talking and thinking and reading about flying. We crane our necks skyward with every low rumble and discuss what sort of wonderful flying machine has just passed overhead.  We drool over airplanes for sale as we excitedly plan which one we would like to buy. ‘Scrabble with friends’ in bed at night has given way to a growing number of aviation magazines scattered across the doona. The BAK book has became a coveted possession and we regularly scan the long term weather reports  in angst  lest the prevailing winds are not flying lesson friendly!

Clearly, we have both become aero junkies, lol.

Pinky Rules!


The madness begins

Over the next few weeks, Greg gobbled up flying lessons like a starved Pac-Man; it was enough to make me realise that flying was about to become all consuming in our lives. Feeling a tad abandoned (along with the Vstrom) I decided that I could at least learn to be a calm passenger and booked another TIF.

After a restless night, I determined to face my fears with a ‘just take the next step’ approach and tablets to stop my wobbly tummy. Jaspers Brush Airfield had turned into Lake Jasper after a week of crazy rain so my date with Liz and her Jab170, Pinky, was at Illawarra Regional Airport.

The pre checks done, my tummy well behaved, we were off again and I marvelled anew at how one minute we were clumsy on the ground and the next we were set free to soar. What a gorgeous airplane – Pinky is such a gracious bird in the sky; I love that airplane.

It was just spectacular up there that day. I still gravitated between frightened and exhilarated and it took all the courage I could muster, but I did use the control without freezing and ever so cautiously turned Pinky around.  Amazing! A few more turns and Liz brought us in beautifully  before the approaching large grey cloud bank could turn into rain and angry wind, while I stayed on the dual controls with her.

I decided then that I wanted to learn to how to fly. My biggest win that day was being able to take the stick, for me that was huge. In the words of  Eleanor Roosevelt,  ’ You gain courage, strength and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.’

And just like that, the madness had begun ……


Lake Jasper

Vstrom - Low Flying

One sunny day in February……

It all started one day in February 2012 as my husband, Greg and I,  made a spur of the moment decision and turned down the dusty road to Jaspers Brush Airfield, the home of South Coast Recreational Flying Club.  We were made very welcome by Andrew Campbell (Chief Flying Instructor) and his team on the day, Liz (Senior Flying Instructor) and Alex (Instructor). After a bit of a chat, Andrew offered us a trial introductory flight (TIF) and before we knew it we were both heading off towards a plane!

A TIF is a great starting point to find out what it’s like to learn to fly and a good opportunity to ask any questions you have about flying training. It was something I’d thought about doing for my 50th birthday but had never really got around to doing. And here I was about to do just that, two years later, how amazing.

My flight instructor Liz showed me around the aeroplane (a Jabiru J170) explaining the instruments and controls. We got into the cockpit, went through the pre-flight checks and we were off! In a TIF you actually get to fly the plane under the instructor’s supervision.

Liz demonstrated some basic flying manoeuvres and encouraged me to be on the controls with her. For me, that was enough for a first time, I literally froze at the thought of managing the controls. I suspect it was a different story for Andrew, who probably had to wrestle the controls back from Greg!

It was a defining moment for Greg – a wonderful realisation that here was the opportunity to fulfil his dream to fly right on our doorstep. The airport is close to home and the timing was right – he was on his way!

As for me, well, I really only experienced two emotions in the air that day – sheer terror and utter exhilaration! There was nothing in between. I also had motion sickness, which really didn’t help. I was very happy to be back on the ground. It is an absolute credit to Liz and her teaching ability that I came back to give it another go. Liz is an inspiration.

In my next post I’ll tell you about my second TIF :o ) and my decision to learn to fly.