03/01 Direct Link

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.

03/02 Direct Link

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 do.

03/03 Direct Link

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.

03/04 Direct Link

 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.

03/05 Direct Link

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.

03/06 Direct Link

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.

03/07 Direct Link

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.

03/08 Direct Link

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! 

03/09 Direct Link

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.

03/10 Direct Link

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.

03/11 Direct Link

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.

03/12 Direct Link

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?”

“Stand by.”

03/13 Direct Link

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.

03/14 Direct Link

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.

03/15 Direct Link

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 flight.

03/16 Direct Link

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.

03/17 Direct Link

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.

03/18 Direct Link

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 ahead.

03/19 Direct Link

My latest adventure was my cruise. 

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.

03/20 Direct Link

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 sea.

03/21 Direct Link

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.


03/22 Direct Link

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 photographs.


03/23 Direct Link

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!


03/24 Direct Link

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.

03/25 Direct Link

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.

03/26 Direct Link

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.

03/27 Direct Link

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 the cruise.

03/28 Direct Link

When we 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 care facility.

03/29 Direct Link

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 veggies.

03/30 Direct Link

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!

03/31 Direct Link

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 a batch. 

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.