Like most on this forum, as a young whipper snapper, the sight and sound of a helicopter (and any aircraft for that matter) made me jump up and look skyward, thinking how awesome it would be to fly one.
Looking at books and pictures was the start, and at 12 years old, my dad suggested I write to a couple of companies to see if I could go and take a closer look. I remember very well the first letter I got back from one Anthony Manchee of Helicopter Charter (some of you may have known or flown with him). My dad took me out to Mascot and I sat in a Jetranger VH-AHV and a Longranger VH-BLV (hey some of you might have even flown these in your travels). I thought after that day I wanted to fly one of these fascinating machines. I also got a response from Rotor-Work out at YSBK and dad took me out one day to check out what was in the hangar. At the time I remember bits and pieces everywhere and an old 47J Ranger along the front of the hangar – VH-INF (I think it appeared in Skippy – yeah ok now I’m showing my age!). I know the hangar is still there and they’re probably still re-building as they were back then.
Well that was about 23 years ago which makes me a late bloomer at 35 (for starting to training anyway) and I still love choppers today. I did have some flying training in “planks” before and when I left school (in fact I went solo before I got my P’s). But like some others – ran out of money, bank wouldn’t give me a loan, no one I was hanging around with flew and maybe thought it wasn’t going to happen. I did leave flying at that stage – I wish I’d had a chat to some piers or had a mentor around me. Hindsight’s a great thing and if I’d really sat down and spoken to the right people I may not have left the scene at that time, but at 19 the maturity isn’t always at the appropriate level and a loan that I wouldn’t second guess now was a mountain too high to climb at the time (or to my way of thinking anyway). So I went to tafe / uni and became an accountant (go figure). I married, and now have 2 small boys (love 'em all to bits). I’ve been working 2 jobs for 13 years and 3 jobs for the last 7 years. Just before Christmas I had a month off work (the boss told me I had too much leave!) and took a few trips to YSBK to watch the choppers come and go then at night would jump on the internet and search the training schools for info (I think I also had stuff to do around the house as well? hmmm). Doing the sums (yep is still isn’t cheap to learn to fly a helicopter) and some serious soul searching made me think, if I’m going to do it, this has to be the year. This time round I have spoken to a mentor and run the plan past my dad and then came the biggest hurdle – the better half!!!
Until next time…
Follow choppernut on his journey to CPL(H).
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