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Wimmera Aero Club is one of the very few rural flying schools that do Bi-annual Flight Reviews.

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Following a dream

By Wayne Elliott

I had been interested in flying since I was a kid but it had always seemed beyond my reach. Over the years I concentrated so much on commitments with family and work that I never thought about it too much.

I was born and raised in Dimboola, been married to Julie for 29 years and have four children Amy, 24, Jessica, 22, Georgie, 19, and David, 16. I had short stints in Melbourne with the State Savings Bank when I first left school and then I came back to the Wimmera to join the railways. In those days, after becoming a driver it was compulsory to go back to Melbourne. So I did that and in 1985 I grabbed an opportunity to transfer back to Dimboola.

I suppose learning how to fly has always been at the back of the mind. I had hobbies such as photography and golf but of course family and work took up most of my attention. Then, this year, I read in the Mail-Times and heard on the radio that Wimmera Aero Club was having a come-and-try day so I thought ‘why not?’

I’m at an age where the kids are starting to spread their wings and it just so happened that Hugh Brownlee, the aero club’s chief flying instructor, was also a train driver who I’d known for about 13 years. So I rang Hugh up and he asked ‘when are we going up?’ He said how’s 9.30am sound? So up we went, in the club’s new SportStar aircraft which is great.

I had said to Julie: ‘I wouldn’t mind having a crack at getting my flying licence’. She said ‘go for it’ and that’s where it started. I had been up in planes a few times, not many. A couple of years ago there was a bloke floating around the Wimmera with a Tiger Moth. I went for a fly with him as part of a birthday present and really enjoyed it. I thought: I have to have a crack at this and see how I go.

I’ve now been learning with the club since the end of March 2008, mainly flying out of Warracknabeal and have already been on my first and second solo flights. But there’s a way to go, a lot of knowledge, theory and qualifications I need to get. But it is a great challenge.

At the end of it all, perhaps in five or six years when I retire, I want to have the qualifications to be able to jump in a plane with Julie and fly somewhere such as King Island for a holiday. But that’s the long-term plan.

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