Today marks a pretty significant milestone in my life. Today, 25 years ago I had my first flying lesson. December 28, 1989 I took to the air with the very patient Darren Knoll in VH-HLD, a Piper Warrior II. That first lesson saw me achieve a Restricted Pilots License in February 1990, PPL in October 1990, CPL in 1993 and a ME-IFR rating in 1994.
At that time a career in Aviation was my goal. An eye condition saw me give that away in the early 90’s and I continued a career in IT (which was paying for the flying). In 2010 two things happened. One was the birth of my son in late 2009 which saw any remaining funds for aviation dry up completely and the announcement of the iPad. I started work on a flight planning thing for the iPad back in April 2010. After I showed a few people the prototype in late 2010 they encouraged me to continue. In August 2011 we released the first version of AvPlan with the thought that a few hundred people would become subscribers and use it. We past that number in the first months and its grown into a product with 1000’s of customers in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. So I now have that career in Aviation.
Back in 1990 I rode my bike to the airport – I didn’t even get a drivers license until 1993. I couldn’t afford a car as everything I earned at the time was spent on aeroplanes. Since that eventful day I have around 1000 hours in my logbook, flying an array of different GA types. Most of my hours (more than half) are in Beechcraft A36 Bonanza’s. In the late 2000’s I also owned an aircraft, VH-TOI, a 1986 Socata Tobago, which was a learning experience for sure.
In 2005 I flew my now wife to NZ and back in VH-PMP which was an awesome experience and one I am very eager to repeat. Flying around the south island of New Zealand is simply stunning. More recently I hired an SR-22 from Denver Colorado and flew it to Las Vegas, over the Grand Canyon to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That trip also rates highly on the memorable scale.
I’ve had other memorable experiences in that time as well. One morning I attempted and failed to take the top off a tower in not-so-good visibility (you will see some things shortly in AvPlan EFB which will help make you more aware of obstacles such as these), experiences with un-forecast weather, magneto failure and pre-ignition event in the SR-22 in Jackson Hole. Our Tobago ended up on its nose in a paddock near Tamworth one afternoon after a dual magneto failure. Ash, the other owner and a mate of his was in the aircraft. I was passing overhead at the time in a Qantas 737 heading from Melbourne to Brisbane at the time.
These days I’m lucky enough to fly around in a SR22 G3 which is a very comfortable and capable aircraft for sure. The things I love about the Cirrus is its speed, the sophistication of the avionics and the parachute (I have taught my 7 year old what to do if something happens to me – pull this handle and pull the mixture control). I do miss the space and load carrying capability of the Bonanza at times.
What will the next 25 years hold? The aviation landscape will be different, thats for sure.