keep smiling (and flying)...

Learning to Fly

Why I decided to learn to fly?

It was a long thought out decision and one I had made myself. I have become good friends with a gentleman and he flies. At the time of getting to know him, I didn’t know he flew and when he started talking aviation, I listened but didn’t involve myself for a considerable time. Then I went on a scenic flight and it was my first time in a small plane. Quite unsure how I would feel about being in a small plane. We departed from Redcliffe airport and went around the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

Flying-Monster mascot and her Peltor headsets
My previous exposure like many others is the various sizes and types of commercial jets. So this first flight was definitely a new experience for me. I was rather quiet compared to how I am now. I took some photos and enjoyed that trip and with the professionalism of the pilot that I’ve gone on many more flights with him.

We have since become great friends and I have become immersed in aviation. I may not be able to tell one plane from another yet but I’m recognizing names, jargon/phrases and can spot an airfield in the distance.

So I had spent approximately 18 months on the right hand side, handing over maps ‘n notes as well as learning to read them to help out; looking out for other aircraft and providing nourishment for the pilot, I thought I could do this. I didn’t think it would be easy but I was willing to give it a try.


He has taught me a lot; how to read maps, weather charts, interpreting radio calls, how to read a wind sock and numerous other things. He has been incredibly patient with my questioning and has always taken time to explain the answers to my questions; no matter how simple the question. E.g. what does this gauge do, then why does it do that.

I have been exposed to a different world. I have attended airshows, fly-ins, restoration/historical projects and museums.

So getting back to why I decided to learn to fly… because “I WANT TO”.  As simple as that.  I thought it would be a positive goal to aim for and achieve. To see the world; its environs and people in a new exciting light.

I have been questioned a bit as people have wrongly assumed my friend has forced me to learn. This isn’t true. He has never suggested it and since telling him of my decision. He has only been encouraging. I actually thought of not telling him at all and doing the lessons for a while first before saying anything. I have kept rather quiet on telling people I’m learning to fly and that’s because I didn’t want unnecessary pressure from others. I am a private person in many ways and it’s not in my nature to “brag” or crave attention. People aren’t always encouraging and can be incredibly cynical of others learning.

My next step ... What class of license and flight training school to attend?

This has been solely my choice all the way along. It is great to have a positive and encouraging person behind you no matter what you’re learning.


So I had decided to learn to fly, not as a career change but purely for recreational purposes. I had no idea how to start. Basically I had 2 options – GA or RA-AUS. They both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Think about the advantages and disadvantages of both, e.g. learning, costs etc. and make a list. I ended up going with RA-AUS. It was a cheaper and easier way to start. I was then going to transfer to GA after my navigation components were completed and obtain my PPL.

There wasn’t too many schools to choose from and I ended up choosing one that was relatively easy for me to get to as well as the school being a one man show. This appealed to me, a small school and having the same instructor and same aircraft.

My friend rang up initially and spoke with the owner/instructor and then we made a time to all meet in person. I looked at the training environment, the aircraft, hangar space and the man himself. I needed to feel comfortable with the instructor. A plane can be a painfully small place if you’re not completely comfortable. I thought about all the things I saw and heard and rang back a few days later and booked my first few lessons. 

Here I go… flying lessons!

and here I come... Redcliffe airport!

Ding Duck learning to fly t-shirt