Let’s see whether I can make
my long story into 100 word episodes. It
is a real challenge, and as writing is a challenge in itself, I have given
myself two at this time. Of course I
have been trying to get into the habit of writing regularly for years now, but
somehow it has not yet happened. So, I
thought, and I still think, that maybe just writing 100 words would get me into
the habit and I will expand it later. I
do do a blog, but even doing that once a week is not really done regularly.
A dream to learn to fly. Without the money it was shelved, but this 14
year old, never gave up. Any flying was
exciting and after a time in Papua New Guinea and experiencing flight in all
types of aircraft, The dream only became more pressing. Then a new job and a substantial pay
increase, brought the possibility to reality.
Now it was time to take a step towards learning how to fly. And so, in 1970, I commenced flying lessons,
which were exciting and demanding, but never a chore. Studying the theory was one of the tasks to
So I started having lessons
and did all the studies. It was really
exciting. Imagine being in a small plane
and being taught how to fly it. After
initial instructions in the instruments and workings, there was landings and
take offs to learn. After seven one hour
lessons, the instructor suddenly told me to stop and he got out. Told me to go and do it alone. WOW. I
flew all alone from take off to landing and bringing the plane back
safely. So, it might have taken fifteen
years to get to my dream, now it was really achieved.
Of course I wanted to learn more than just
take off and land, so the next program was to go into the training area and
there learn all the workings of an aircraft.
However, first I had to learn some theory and obtain the Flight Radiotelephone
Operator’s Licence, and until then the instructor would take me out. When finally I could go alone the thrill was
enormous. So, practice simulating engine
failure, changing altitude and getting exact directions. All these things needed to be well understood
if I was going to go cross country. I
worked diligently to achieve it.
Now I could go alone. My first assignment was to do circuits and
bumps, all alone. As there was only one
daily flight into the airport, it was not likely that I would encounter a commercial
aircraft, so I was at ease and thrilled to be out there alone, albeit only at
the airstrip. One of the things that it
is important to deal with when practicing manoeuvres, is boredom. If you get bored then you stop paying
attention and become a dander to yourself and those around you. I set myself
goals to keep my attention on the job.
After several hours doing
circuits and bumps, I was allowed to go to the Training Area alone. That was again a thrill and of course, also a
responsibility. Now, out there I diligently
practiced the exercises and manoeuvres that had been prescribed. Away from the airport, I studied the
navigation manual, because if you don’t know how to get to a destination, well,
then flying is not much use. In fact it
can be outright dangerous.
After passing that exam I was ready for the
big wide world. Next lesson the
instructor would take me on a cross country flight.
Next lesson is here. The instructor gave the route we were to fly
and then it was up to me. First check
the map. Which metrological divisions
would I have to fly over. Then ring the
weather bureau and get the detailed weather forecast for each of those
divisions. Then use my newly acquired
skills to work out the exact directions I would have to fly in, taking into
account wind drift. All done, and
approved by the instructor, then lodge the flight plan with Air Traffic
Control. Now we could finally take off,
with the instructor there for assistance.
After the required number of
hours going cross country with an instructor, I would go out alone. Route: Albury – Canberra – Wagga –
Albury. I did all my preparations and
after checking the aircraft and securing my belongings inside, I set off. Soon the town, and even the farmland was
behind me. Now there were only forested
hills. There was no space for an
emergency landing. I paid close
attention to everything that was going on.
And then, there it was, in front of me; so beautiful! The first airport that I had found on my own
with my new skills – CANBERRA!
Following instructions to
land at a controlled airport was also new on my own. I rewarded myself with a nice cuppa and looked
around, before taking off to Wagga, a country airport similar to Albury, so no
control tower. After refuelling at Wagga
I set off for home. It was a warm day, and
the sky was blue above an flat arid landscape.
Then I saw it, right in front of me, a column of cumulus cloud. While changing direction to avoid it I saw
the lightning and I just swung right to get as far away as I could.
Then I took the map and with
markings on the ground, worked out where I was and how to get back to
base. With my new tools I worked out the
direction and arrived back tired but elated at my achievement. This was all I dreamed of when reading
Biggle’s all those years ago. Of course,
that did not seal it. There were still a number of trips I would have to fulfil before being
granted a licence, but this was proof that it was possible, in fact it was
within reach. Next, the story of the last training flight.
This was it. Albury – Swan Hill – Mangalore – Albury was
the assignment. After preparations and
after lodging the flight plan and with some warnings and encouragement from the
instructor, I set off for Swan Hill. It
was Christmas Eve, the weather was perfect and I enjoyed a snack and a drink
while I flew over the southern New South Wales countryside. I arrived at Swan Hill, advised Melbourne Air
Traffic control and went off to see the Pioneer Village in the town. I enjoyed my tourist trip and returned to the
airport to refuel and set off on the next leg.
I set off from Swan Hill and
set course for Mangalor via Echuca and Rochester. Air Traffic Control told me to report over
Echuca. As usual I enjoyed the beautiful
weather up there in the air and listened to all the other aircraft in the
Melbourne Air Traffic Control Area. Over
Echuca I reported in and was told to switch frequency to Mangalore when I was
over Rochester. Now, I have been
listening while I enjoyed my flight, so I called back: “Bravo, Uniform,
November. Did I not just hear another
aircraft being told that Mangalore is inactive?”
While waiting for the Air
Traffic Controller to check out what I had said, I continued to enjoy the
scenery below me and the wispy clouds above.
It really was a day like no other, and as I knew some of the area I was
flying over, it was interesting to see it from above.
Then the call: “Bravo Uniform
November, affirmative, remain on this frequency. Over.”
I acknowledged the instruction
and felt rather coy that I, a student pilot, had been able to correct an Air
Traffic Controller. I continued happily
on my way over Rochester, on to Mangalore.
There isn’t anything much at
Mangalore. It used to be an emergency
airport for Melbourne and now is not used by regular airlines. There are days when it is active and the Air
Traffic Controllers are then on duty.
I landed after flying the
compulsory formation for an uncontrolled airport and walked around for some 15
minutes before getting back into the plane and taking of for the flight home.
This had been such a good day
and now I was flying over territory that I knew well from the ground. It was very interesting. Soon I would be home.
On arrival in Albury my
instructor was waiting with the application papers for the Private Pilot’s
Licence (unrestricted). Yes, I felt very
proud and satisfied.
So, what would be next? At the cost involved it was never going to be
a long term hobby and my eyesight precluded me from trying to become a
commercial pilot. I did keep up the
flying for a while, every other week going to the airport in Lillydale (near
Melbourne) to fly for an hour. Then at
work one day a colleague asked me to take him and some friends for a joy
On the agreed date we met at
the airport. They together rented the
plane and I registered as the pilot. It
was a really good day, nice and clear.
However two things happened on that flight which made me so grateful
that the training had been so stringent.
We were having a scenic flight over the Dandenong Ranges when I noticed
that we were losing altitude. However, I
had the whole plane configured to climb.
Ensuring there was enough air below me, I persevered and eventually
gained the saver altitude.
The second incident was more
unpleasant, but was also overcome.
I’ve described the routine of
landing at an uncontrolled airport. So,
now I was coming in to land at Lillydale.
Everything went fine until I turned onto FINAL. Just as i did, the friend sitting next to me
threw up all over my right leg and the controls. The stench was overwhelming. All I could do was silently repeat to myself,
“You have to land the plane!” I
concentrated on the task at hand and made a perfect landing. As soon as I had the plane under control, I
asked him to open the door and let some air in.
The last experience made me
ever more grateful that I had learned from a very strict teacher who imparted
the seriousness of being in control of an aircraft.
At its cost, and with my
income, flying was never going to be an ongoing hobby, and after a couple of
years I discontinued flying and did not renew my licence. However, the thrill of the adventure, will
never be forgotten.
Many other adventures have
occupied my life, but I have always kept my licence and log book as a souvenir
of the dream that came true.
More adventures still lay
My latest adventure was my
Although I had worked on
ships, I had never been on a cruise or on a cruise ship. It was in 2013 when a friend suggested that
we go together. All was agreed upon and
the cruise was booked for November of that year. We looked forward to it until three weeks
before the cruise date I had an accident and was in hospital with no hope of
getting onto any ship in November. Another
friend decided to take my place and so I did not lose my money. They really enjoyed the cruise.
It was in January 2016 that
another friend walked in with the cruise book and told me that we really should
go on the cruise we had been talking about for so long.
It was decided that we would
go in November of that year and take a cruise to the islands in the South
Pacific. We decided that we would meet
in the “stateroom” on the ship, rather than try to meet in town before.
So on the relevant Sunday we
met on board to enjoy a cruise of two weeks, seven days of which would be at
The first thing that I
noticed on the ship, was the inclusion of everyone on board. You might think that that goes without
saying, but then you did not see the passenger list. Going up and down the corridors and lifts
were walking aids, mobility scooters, electric and push wheelchairs and
everything else you could imagine.
Besides that there were the passengers with other disabilities, both
physical and mental. Add onto that that
around 60% of the passengers were seniors, the oldest of which was 101. The youngest passenger was 18 months.
Everyone was accepted by crew
and passengers alike.
Now why would I think that
the most important feature of the cruise?
Simply that I have a brother who has Acquired Brain Injury which means
that he has limited communication skills and finds it difficult to do many of
the things that you and I take for granted.
On a ship like this I would be able to take him on a cruise and give him
a real holiday. He has not had a holiday
for many years.
Once I had decided that, the
next thing that was a highlight for me was the many opportunities to take
There was this amazing
day. It looked like we would get a good
sunset, and many people were at the best vantage point to await this.
Then it happened! Black clouds rolled in over the whole sky. Within minutes the possibility of a good
sunset to photograph, had evaporated.
The majority of ‘photographers’ were disillusioned and left for dinner. There were only two of us left on deck to
witness a miracle.
A hole appeared in the clouds
and the brightest white light shone down and hit the dark ocean. A column of light. Heaven peaking into the darkness. Amazing!
I have this amazing website
with Betterphoto. It is for
photographers of all levels, and it is fun.
It is also encouraging to see what others think of your photos and what
they take and you get lots and lots of ideas.
So, some of my photos were put onto my website and a number of them
received the editor’s pick. That means
that they got into the first level of the monthly competition. I am rather proud of that. Especially one photo that I received comments
on. It shows all the photographers on
the deck, silhouetted against a sunset.
The cruise was so good, so
enjoyable and relaxing, and by the end of it, my friend and I were still on
good terms. Sharing a cabin for a week,
and having our meals together was our arrangement, and the rest of the time we
each did our own thing. Now I am working on taking my older disabled brother
for a short cruise. It would be so good
to see him having such a good time too.
We will go from Sydney to Tasmania and back. It is only six nights, but that may well be
enough for him.
Of course on board ship there
is a lot of walking. Ships are by nature
narrow and long. Amazingly, where you
want to go is generally at the other end of the ship from where you are. It is not easy to put on weight with so much
exercise. But my brother’s injuries from
the accident in 1961, are now causing him a lot of pain and he will not be able
to do that much walking. In fact he
can’t walk around much when he goes into town from where he lives. A solution must found for him first.
For my brother I am looking
for a small portable electric scooter that he would be able to have put into
the boot of the taxi and when in town, unfold it and go around to the places he
wishes to visit. This same scooter would
then go with him on the ship and would make moving around the ship painless and
much quicker than he could make it on foot.
To consider are his size, he’s large, the scooter’s weight and the cost
versus the funds available. That should be sorted out a couple of months before
look at what is available today for people with head injuries that severely
affect the brain, it is amazing what they can do. My brother was operated on and a week after
he came out of the coma, he was sent home to my mother to look after. There was no evaluation, no rehab or
retraining, and so he has become worse with time. Now in his older age, he has so many problems
that he cannot get help for because he is over 65. He is much better now that he is in an aged
Myself I have been busy picking strawberries and tomatoes. It has been great having strawberries and ice
cream for dessert day after day. There
is that warm feeling, a reward for effort.
The tomatoes too are lovely and fresh direct from the vine. There are many in the fridge and I will be
getting the last lot off green, and let them ripen on the shelf. Isn’t that what the supermarkets do?
Then there is always the internet to give me recipes to make them into
delicious meals. You can’t beat home
grown veggies. Now to plant the autumn
The cooler weather and the change in the supply of heating, has made me
spend some time to learn how I can minimize the cost of heating. I have gone through my lovely little unit and
decided that I lose most of my heat through the many windows. With that in mind, I have set my mind to
finding a solution, and I think I have.
There is on the market a product which is an insulating film that can be
attached to the window and will lessen the amount of heat that will be lost
there. That’s up next!
Now let me get this done. It is
the first time that I have got to the end of the month and got an entry into
every day. I have taken several months
to get a complete month done without missing a day or making some other
mistake. But March has done it. I am now on the last day and I have completed
It is not my intention that this is the last batch that I am doing. I am looking forward to getting several
batches done, as it is a very good discipline, which I need.