SOAR Aviation 1
Team Captain: Tim Little
Other Member: another brave avaiator
I have been a sports pilot for a little while now... mostly as a hang glider pilot, and now getting into light sport and soon, private and commercial aviation.
As a child I was racing yachts on the south west coast of Australia, where I grew up, before I was old enough to drive a car – just little single and two-place craft, with open ocean sailing being my favourite. I crewed on a few larger boats, but I preferred being at the helm myself – just me versus the elements.
It was only natural that I progress from ‘X, Y and Time’ to ‘X, Y, Z and Time’, and a few years ago, took two weeks holiday and booked myself in to a residential hang glider student pilot course with Dynamic Flight at Trawalla, Victoria. Over 9 days, graduated from ‘rock-bound’ to my first 3-hour, unpowered flight, soaring the ridge-lift from the seabreeze at the cliffs east of Warrnambool. Since then, I have made a personal best of 9040ft highest thermal climb from 800ft foot launch off Ben Nevis in the Mt Cole area in Western Vic, but not yet managed to beat my early 3-hour flight. I have also done a little cross-country hang gliding, and in 2017 won a place in my glider class in the ‘Flatter than the Flatlands’ Easter hang gliding competition at Birchip, in North West Victoria. Its much drier than yacht-racing.
Having gained a couple of hang gliding endorsements relating to launch techniques, I became fascinated with the ‘tug’ plane, which provides the aerotowing, as a launch technique. That was probably the first real desire I had to fly a plane. The rest, they say, is history. I still love unpowered flight the most, but at least, when the ‘fan out the front’ stops turning (doing simulated engine failures), it’s not quite as traumatic as it could be.
I am well on my way to completing my CPL this year, but also hoping to keep my unpowered hours up and also increasing the range of aircraft that I have experience with – weight shift microlites, fixed wing gliders and whatever I can get my hands on, either 2-axis or 3-axis.
In the past, I have also been a ‘tour guide’ around Australia, driving a tour coach for group holidays for people with a disability. I travelled across most of the eastern seaboard with a bus of carers and party-goers, getting paid to go on holidays. Ever since then, I have wanted to provide even more connectivity for rural and remote people, specifically with disabilities, and to work out some way to bring the gift of flight (open cockpit or otherwise) for anyone who looks up in the sky, regardless of their disability.
As a person who lives on the urban fringe with stock (breed and train horses), I also recognise and see the difference that aviation makes in both the ability to live and work out of city areas, but also in providing access for mental health and other services to those living remotely. So, when I am not flying for my own enjoyment (usually without power), these are some of the things that I plan to undertake with my wings.
I have, in the past, required the help of emergency services. I have known friends and other pilots who have been injured or perished, who didn’t have the access to emergency services that I was fortunate enough to have in the past. Supporting the RFDS, and combining my love of a range of aviation sports and activities enables me to 'pay it forward' in the hope that they can provide the emergency services that someone else needs, as well, in the unlikely event that I may also need one day.