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November 2007


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OK the competition to win the next three editions of Australian Flying magazine for absolutely FREE has opened for November so start posting any of your pictures or stories in this thread - got to be in it to win it so GOOD LUCK! :).


Oh, also don't forget a Caption for your image and just say if you also have another copy of the image that is:


  • jpg format
  • at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) at a usable size (say 6" x 4" or around 16 x 10 cms)
  • and if to be considered as a cover pic - in vertical format
  • aircraft(s) identified in caption


So if you win your picture could go into Australian Flying.


Get those pictures in now and show us all what you've got!!!



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A great day to go solo


Like so many people, I’ve long dreamed of flying an aircraft. I imagined that to experience the sense of freedom, the satisfaction and the exhilaration would be a worthy goal. My story really begins earlier this year. Rapidly approaching forty, I decided it was probably around time I had a mid-life crisis. I asked my wife, Sonja, if she would mind and she politely enquired what sort of mid-life crisis I had in mind!


With confidence and bravado, I suggested buying a scooter, to which Sonja pointed out this would be a dumb idea. Living in tropical North Queensland means either being drenched in sweat or torrential rain. So I revisited my long term dream of getting my pilots licence. After coming up with all the excuses of why I couldn’t: costs too much money, I don’t have enough time; Sonja just told me to get on with it and start flying.


Internet research led me to www.recreationalflying.com and this proved very helpful and encouraging. The importance of choosing a good instructor was emphasised many times. Also to ensure you have sufficient resources to fly regularly so steady progression is achieved. The other thing to be considered is choosing an aircraft that you want to fly in. It’s no good learning to fly a weight-shift trike if you want to cruise at 90-100kts flying three axis.


I chose to fly with Ron Watson who flies out of Innisfail in a Jabiru UL-D. Ron is ex-RAAF and I’m ex-Army so I figured we’d either hit it off immediately or it would be a shocker. Fortunately we clicked really quickly and every lesson has been filled with learning new skills and enjoyment. When I’ve made errors, I’ve already recognised them and so Ron doesn’t berate me, he encourages, corrects and has me perform the task again – an excellent role model for other instructors. I imagine some forget that their students try really hard to please their instructor so we can learn well and become sound, competent pilots – modelled on our instructors.


Innisfail is a great location to learn to fly with spectacular scenery being hemmed in by tropical mountains and the Great Barrier Reef. The weather has been great and there are few other aircraft to battle with.


My lessons began shortly after my 40th in September and we progressed rapidly through the syllabus. Effects of controls, circuits, landings, stalls, loss of power in flight and on take off, all wove a tapestry of information and skill. Each new skill built upon the previous lessons. I push myself pretty hard and as the lessons advanced I aimed for each manoeuvre to be accurate and precise. A more windy day proved an excellent opportunity to practice side-slipping and cross-wind landings.


Today (6th November) I was driving from Cairns to Innisfail thinking, “this is a great day for flying.” I had completed six hours of flying and was gaining in confidence and building up my basic skills. Ron briefed me that today we would be practising forced landing in the training area, followed by circuits.


After a quick nervous wee (forced landings will do this!), we taxied for runway 14. With no wind, Ron changed plans and said we’d fly some circuits first. I completed the first circuit and everything was neat and tidy. The second circuit was also tidy and after I made the downwind radio call, Ron asked me to practice a full stop landing, then another take off. I made the amended radio call on final and completed a good landing.


“Right,” said Ron, “I want you to fly another circuit just like that, I’m getting out of the aircraft.”


With that Ron was gone and I was preparing for my first solo flight! I paused, gathered my thoughts and ran through the pre take off checks. Full throttle and I’m away. The little Jabiru climbed out really well and within moments I was checking airspeed, flaps up, trim the aircraft, ease the throttle, check altitude. I’ve got to admit, I allowed myself a huge, face-splitting grin and I thought, “Wow, I’m really flying this.” What a buzz.


“Okay let’s put the self-glorification on the back-burner and fly the aircraft.” Downwind checks and radio call, turn on base, identify the crop duster working to the north, check airspeed, flaps set, check altitude, glide path, aiming point, good landing.


Ron opens the door, “Congratulations mate, your first solo.”


One solo a pilot does not make; but it is a significant milestone and as Ron pointed out after the lesson, you only ever fly your first solo once. I look forward to the rest of my training and learning how to control the aircraft in both good and adverse conditions.


Not every dream works out like you imagine and not every mid-life crisis should be entertained. But gee its great when it all comes together. It was a great day to go solo.;)



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Guest pelorus32



well done...you only ever do it once but it is something you have in common with all other pilots and none of the rest of the world. An exclusive little club.


I hope the rest of your training goes well.







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GA to RA-Aus almost finished


I've been doing my GA to RA training for the last 6 weeks or so and the time for the test approaches.


They cut me loose today so I could fly off my required 1 hour of solo. ;)


You could have mistaken Tooradin for Moorabbin today with up to 5 aircraft in the circuit. I even managed a happy snap of a warrior over the fence on 04.


I decided to leave them all playing in the circuit, climb to 3500' and head for Phillip Island. Silky smooth and a glorious day for a fly. ;);) I'll leave you with a couple of pics...


Next thursday the CFI gets stuck into me to find out wether I deserve a pilots certificate.....:confused:















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Well Done Mathew, Congradulations.


as everyone has said you only do it once and most will remember this so vividly. Just like when you do your first parachute jump! That was different, not so much in control as my first solo!


Soon to be able to share your love of flying with your loved one, is she looking forward to this? I know of a couple down this way, he started to learn, she went for a ride with the instructor and she started to learn to.


Great Stuff


Love it!


Cheers Guy



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Thanks for the encouragement Guy. Yes my wife is looking forward to flying with me, as are our two sons. Heading towards the door at 1000' with the green light on and a parachute strapped to your back heightens your sense of awareness and of living in the moment - but I'd rather be flying than jumping!


Cheers, Mathew



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Bernie wanted to post this photo but has been having trouble uploading it and asked me to.


He has a higher res version (I think) but couldn't email it to me.




His caption:


This photo was taken on Sunday morning at 6am at the Echuca Flyin that wasn't. I don't know why it is bulging but our own Super hero Ian is asleep inside.




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  • 2 weeks later...

Skylark, A worms-eye view.


Looking up at the Skylark with a dreamy sky behind.


Another tough day at the office...............


High resolution copy available.









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Winner Australian Flying Photo Comp - NOVEMBER


We're happy to announce the winner of this month's comp is ..............


Mathew Ker's Story on his first solo. Well done Mathew - it is an uplifting and well written piece and makes us all remember that unforgettable day when we did it by ourselves for the first time.


If you'd like to send me your full name and postal address I'll organise your complimentary copies of Australian Flying. Email me at: [email protected]



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