What a great crew of Wheelies with Wings recruits we had this Nov in Temora. Peter Stokes from Taree, Zsolt Ugrai from Melbourne (originally from Hungary – hence the groovy name), & Jerome Wong from Central Coast all enjoyed two weeks of exciting flying in a range of weather whilst getting familiar with the Foxbat & completing our “Starter Program” flight training plus some x-country nav experience.
The guys were a bit tentative to begin but soon felt comfortable manoeuvring the plane, and quickly moved through the first six lessons of the ab-initio syllabus training. The hand control of the Foxbat for the rudder, integrated with the throttle, was a little tricky at the start (lots of power going in while trying to turn left or right on the ground for example) but after a few hours the guys really mastered the controls (their instructor may be a different story!)
During the two weeks the fellas flew in all kinds of weather. Generally it got hot and windy and a bit bumpy in the afternoons so everyone rotated turns going early when the atmosphere was more cool and stable.
One day we had isolated thunderstorms forming all around the aerodrome that later lead to heavy rain. Zsolt and I had gone out to practice some turning early that morning and we flew about looking at lightening in the distance and thunderstorm cells forming. We stayed close to the aerodrome and when the rain started to come in we landed so as to not be caught out and away from the aerodrome. Sheldon heard us on short final on the CTAF and as he heard thunder strike moments later declared that “Claire must have landed!” Zsolt thought the whole experience was amazing and that it was one of the best flights he had done. It was one of my favourites as well!
We also managed to get a little bit of navigation experience crammed into the week, which was a good opportunity for everyone to practice and consolidate all their general handling skills whilst actually going somewhere! On the two navs that I took, one with Jerome and one with Peter, we ventured south of Temora to Junee where there was a correctional facility we flew around at 1,000ft AGL to get some good shots of the inmates (whilst also trying not to get shot down by prison guards). In Junee there is also an old and very cool train round house – which looks just like the Thomas The Tank Engine set that my son had when he was little. From our aerial perspective it felt like we could reach out and turn the little toy trains around in their house.
The weather got a little unruly towards the end of the last week of training with 30+kt winds and a terrible heat wave so we finished the training on Thursday morning and let the guys recover from the 2 intensive weeks of training – each of them flying up to twice a day.
Quincy, local resident of the Temora aerodrome and proud owner of a Eurofox also took each of the guys up for a flight to experience a different type of aircraft. That night over dinner the whole crew gushed (as only blokes can) about the whole experience. I think Quincy may have created some future Eurofox owners during those little “joy flights”.
The Temora Warbirds Downunder airshow began on the Friday that their course wrapped up and we were lucky enough to have the president and founder of the Temora Aviation Museum organise to hold a special presentation for our little group at the opening of the airshow in front of all the crowds. Hopefully that raised a little more awareness of the Wheelies with Wings charity, which we are terribly proud to support and be a part of as a flying school. Rob Rickards (Chairman of Wheelies with Wings and himself a QANTAS pilot) is keen to spread the word as much as he can within the aviation community to continue to raise funds for this great charity that gives those who have suffered a great set-back with their mobility the opportunity to be mobile in other ways… you guessed it … flying!
If you can donate, please visit Wheelies with Wings and keep this awesome charity flying because “Attitude Determines Altitude”.