Winter – Smashing Westerlies

The last few weeks of flying have been squeezed in around windy, rainy, winter weather and student pilots suffering with the dreaded flu lurgy. Winter weather and Jabiru repairs have meant lessons have been shorter than usual. Uncomfortable winds and the abrupt arrivals of grey rainy fronts have made landings and take offs interesting! A couple of times Greg has missed out on a lesson altogether,  but today we had a cold, wind free afternoon in the sky – joy oh  joy. We aim for at least one lesson a week. Two a week (in a perfect world) would be wonderful but in reality, you fly when you can.

Greg and I are both in circuits which makes for some very funny debriefs at the pub on our way home (well, the pub is on the way home). Anyone listening might wonder at our animated, adrenalin fuelled, wide eyed conversations about flares, piano keys, aiming points and FULL THROTTLE NOW!

Circuits use all the skills we’ve been learning and add the new challenges of how to take off and land. There’s nothing quite like seeing the ground coming at you at great speed when you fly into a touch and go landing. It’s a total brain overload of pre-landing checks, lining up the aiming point, keeping the front wheel up to flare and GENTLY meet the ground.  Suddenly it’s full power again and you barrel down the runway at 70kph as your adrenalin reaches an all time high, praying for perfect rudder skills to keep you out of the ditch.  Then you pull up the nose and like magic, you soar again!

They say aviation is a lesson in patience and I’m sure it’s true. I’m grateful to Liz for being an extremely patient instructor.  I’ve been so much more relaxed over the past few lessons; I can feel the terror slowly seeping away and being replaced with a brand new, wobbly knee confidence.

If the westerlies are good to us, we’ll fly again on the weekend. If not then it’s more armchair flying….or the flight sim, which I’ll tell you about next time. Until then soar high.


P.S. I’ve taken some short videos to show you and will post them as soon as I get some techy advice.

Greg in circuits

Greg and Alex were up in the J230 with its brand new, fast propeller.

Who are RA-Aus?

Hello dear reader, I thought I’d take a step away from my usual ‘embrace the inner terror’ blurb today, to give you some proper info about recreational aviation.

My goal is to be a recreational pilot with cross country, radio and passenger endorsements. This is also Greg’s goal and we would love to pilot our way around Australia one day. (Although…… there are a lot of helicopter magazines lying around on his side of the bed….hmmmm)

It comes as no surprise to me at all that, recreational flying is the fastest growing sector of aviation in Australia.  Following, I’ve listed some random facts about the training for this sport. It might fill in some gaps for you (and help you to better understand my weekly raves!).

Recreation Aviation Australia (RA-Aus) is the largest individual body representing recreational fliers in Australia. Here is the link to their website:

Here is the official brief:

‘Recreational Aviation Australia is an incorporated organisation with a professional staff that, working under supervision from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), registers aircraft, accredit flying schools and certificate pilots.’

RA-Aus Pilots are at the recreational end of the spectrum, and our cockpit controls are not as complex and demanding as some other types of aircraft. Apparently, once you learn the basics of flying recreational aircraft, it’s not that hard to adjust to another type.  (Does that include helicopters I wonder….?)

They tell me that nothing in flying training is wasted and you can use your Pilots Certificate to move on to higher levels of piloting. (Fantastic!)

You can start flying pretty much as soon as you can reach the pedals but the minimum age to fly Recreational Aircraft SOLO is 15 years of age and you need to be medically fit enough to hold a drivers license.

There is a minimum of 20 hours of training required – probably a more realistic time is an average of 25+ hours; it’s all about when you are safe and ready.

There are heaps of schools right across Australia that offer RA-Aus flying training.

Once you’ve  gained your initial pilots certificate, you can continue to do further training (usually 5 – 10 hours) to attain your cross country endorsement. This allows you to fly just about all over Australia, as long as you are outside of controlled airspace. (That’s us, babe!).  Then, it’s just a matter of adding any other endorsements you need.

And, YES! Ultralights and Recreational Aircraft are very safe! The new recreational aircraft are built to the very highest standards using modern technology and techniques. Safe flying is as much about the pilot as it is about the plane.

I hope that helps to make a bit more sense of the process for attaining a recreational pilot’s certificate; check out the RA-Aus website or ask at your nearest flight school if you would like to know more.

Thanks for taking the time to read some more of our story – I look forward to talking with you again very soon.



Pre flight checks

Be the Boss!

It’s surprising just how fast you can be lulled into a false sense of security and equally surprising how newly learnt skills that made you bold one day, can dissolve like jelly crystals in hot water the next.

Just when I thought the ‘dirty dog of flying fear’ had left me, he reappeared out of the blue at 1501 ft. Predicable old patterns of shaking legs and cold sweats ensued and any useful information I might have once stored randomly in my brain, immediately drained away.

We were soaring into a delightfully calm autumn sky in ‘Pinky’ that afternoon, following a briefing on the symptoms and recovery of stalls.

The shakes took hold as we climbed higher than our usual 1500ft and as the earth stretched further away beneath me, I reasoned that, well, it really didn’t matter – up was up and actually it was much better to be higher in the very unlikely event that we needed to glide in ….

The stalls themselves were gentle and almost tranquil and somewhere in the craziness of being a shaking bird in a bubble at 3500ft recovering from stalls, I made a mental note to self to factor in a glider flight when the opportunity next presents.

Flying really is a crazy thing when it gets in your blood…..

That was a week ago and the words of my instructor ‘Be the Boss!’ rattle around in my head and are fast becoming my mantra for life. You know, I think I’ll try adding another cushion next time so my shaking legs can be the boss of those darned faraway rudder pedals! I’ll let you know how I go. Until then… the boss!

‘You don’t get rid of your fear; you manage your fear when it comes up. You just take the next step.’ (Unknown quote that I love, apologies andthanks to the author.)

Below are some pics from Illawarra Regional Airport.