Not WordPress related.
Yes, I have an Aviation history. From a young age, I had a huge interest in aviation, well aeroplanes mainly.
From that young age, my dad would would take me to mascot, near the old air control tower, and we’d sit, watching the aircraft take of and land. I loved it. The smell of Jet A1… addictive to say the least.
I couldn’t afford to learn how to fly myself, but that didn’t stop me being around aircraft. I used to travel to Bankstown Airport and ‘hang around’ different places. The people I met were the nicest you could ever meet. Everyone was enthusiastic about, and loved aviation.
From memory, I was about 14 when I started going to Bankstown Airport on weekends, normally a Saturday. During this time, my dad would often take me on ‘Mystery Flights’. As the name suggests, the flight is a mystery, until you arrive and check in. The flights were with East-West Airlines in their old Fokker F27’s, or if you were lucky enough, you’d get a flight on the Fokker F28. I had, and still do, have a soft spot for the old F27. I love them.
Yes, there were the odd holiday flights with Ansett, flying on their Boeing 727’s 737’s and 767’s, or with TAA, on their Airbus A300’s, but it was the East-West F27 I looked forward to.
I did start flying training in my late teens, but it just got too expensive.
When I left school, I found a job in a cane shop, called Cane and Things at Macarthur Square. I’ve got no idea how long I worked there, but it wasn’t long before I made my way to Bankstown Airport. I made my way to a hangar, looking for a trades assistant / engineering job, and asked to speak to the owner and spoke to him for about 20 minutes. He said he’d call to let me know. I didn’t bother seeing anyone else. By the time I got home, he’d called and told my mum to let me know I could start Monday.
Working on the aeroplanes, being around others that loved aeroplanes, made me one happy guy. Then the recession hit. The business was sold.
At the time, I’d owned a hire car and did work with Astra Limousines, the old Gazebo Hotel in Parramatta and Bankstown Pacific International.
In the mid to late 90’s, I did manage to work at Bankstown again, but it wasn’t the same. The guy I worked for skipped the country owing a ton of money, me included.
Fast forward to 2010ish, and I kickstarted flying again. It took a few years, and approximately $130,000, but I managed to attain a Grade 3 Instructor rating. Now, I never ‘dreamt’ of becoming a flight instructor, but given my age at the time – early 40’s, I was content on this, as long as it enabled me to fly.
Attaining this Rating was a personal achievement. People / friends / family, considered (I believe) too stupid, but in the end the joke was on them. I passed all of my exams with flying colours (pardon the pun), and achieved the highest score in 3 of the subjects, where the average age of the students was about 23. Yes, I did fail 1 exam, but passed it the second time/ resulting in 3rd in class for that exam. From memory, there were 8 or 9 of us.
All the fun began when it was time to get a job instructing. This is where my disillusionment in aviation really started, and when I realised how awful the general aviation sector had become.
Now, I don’t mind a business owner making money, I am one. I understand there are costs involved. But when you hear them waffle on about how hard things are, but at the same time they are buying another property investment, buying new aeroplanes, upgrading their cars… you really start smelling bullshit.
Basically, my net income from instructing was a tad more than $30,000. Out of this, I had to pay for my own medicals, pay for my own flight tests to stay current on particular aircraft, and provide a number of other items, so I could do my job. It wasn’t cheap being employed, working fulltime hours.
Well. That only lasted a few months. I toyed with it for about a year after I left, and finally decided that it was good while it lasted.
I achieved what many people never will, especially given my age at the time.
If you are 15, and want to fly, go ahead. Get your parents to beg, borrow and steal if they need to, but be aware that to build your hours, you’ll really need to live on the poverty line for a few years – and if you can keep living at home where you have no expenses, do that.
My concern, is that younger instructors will, at the behest of owners, cut corners, do the bare minimum, to get new students to keep paying. This, unfortunately, may lead to more incidents in the future. Young instructors are only there for the hours, they don’t really care about the student, or how much they spend.
I had been lucky enough to be in a position where I could continue flying, plus own my own aircraft. We’ve bought and sold 2 aircraft since, and we had built a hangar at Wedderburn, south of Sydney, but have since sold it. One of the aircraft was hangered permanently at our property in High Range – I had put in place an airstrip prior to building the hangar and it really was good while it lasted. The airstrip is still maintained, and I’ve since built a studio apartment in one section of the hangar – there’s still enough room to park a Cessna 172 comfortably in it. We’re still happy with what we built on the property, as it has added considerable value to the property.
Obviously, my commercial medical was let lapse, given that I had no interest in instructing again, and my private pilot medical is due later this year – I think I’ll let that lapse as well, I haven’t flown for almost a year now, and only did so to take a friend over Sydney and down the coast.
Aviation used to be almost ‘romantic’, but now, it’s driven solely by the dollar. The days of taking your kids to your local airstrip, encouraging them to want to fly, is gone. That is sad.