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Flying Lessons with Gostner Aviation

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by Olly (subscribe)
Olly can't be summarised in a sad little paragraph like this. Lucky for you, though, it doesn't matter. He likes to experience as much of life as he can on a university student's budget, and writes about it all. Check him out...
Published January 29th 2014
Tick another one off the bucket list
Ever dreamt of flying? Are you in the habit of watching birds jealously? Well, it's closer than you'd think. Last year I used my friend's birthday as an excuse to take us both on a half hour flying lesson with Gostner Aviation. I got the two $50 deals thanks to an offer online but honestly, the full hourly price of $259 is worth considering.

So is it as cool as it sounds? Yes, yes it is. After meeting our pilots it was only a brief description of how a giant metal bucket stays in the air before we were in the cockpit ourselves, being instructed how to taxi our planes to the runway. They are two-seater planes, or Jabiru RAA's for those who know a little more than I did. Headphones on, can you hear me?
No matter how simple it is to flick switches on command, and turn keys to start engines, you get a buzz knowing that you're doing it IN A PLANE.

This is where we'll break it down into stages. Firstly, you go through the novelties of safety checks, shiny round dials, taxiing your plane to the runway while your pilot asks for clearance in that technical jargon we've come to love.

Secondly, you're on the runway waiting for that "speedo" to hit 60 Knots before you pull back on your joystick. Then you look down, and you're already thirty metres in the air and climbing. You suddenly become aware of how much smaller this plane is than any commercial equivalents you may have ridden. Two seats, two sets of controls, and a bit of room at the back. Basically a go-kart with wings. You start to notice how easily the wind can batter you around, before you find a calmer patch and your pilot shows nature who's boss. You then start to look around you. A verdant landscape beneath your wings stretches through hills, farms, and thick wooded patches. Hey, this is kind of like that movie you saw, or that flight simulator you played… but so much better.

Then you get to try out the controls for yourself. They're more sensitive than you realised, and coordinating the foot pedal with the joystick is a little more difficult than anticipated. You notice how easily the nose of the plane dips below the horizon or wanders above it. Fear not, though, you get used to it pretty quickly, they have an equivalent of cruise control for various settings, and if you muck up too dramatically your instructor will be able to save you.

Now it's trial time. You have to follow a river below you that basically acts like a racetrack, defining your corners, challenging your control. The plane can bank in corners far more than you'd realised. Oodles of fun.

Finally, the home stretch. Your pilot starts to exchange lingo for landing clearance.

You try out those last few maneuvers you were thinking of, before reluctantly handing the controls back to someone who can actually land the plane. It's a big grass field with a few markers on it. As you approach you realise just how flat and hard the ground really is, just how quickly you're approaching it, and that the wind is blowing the plane slightly off centre. Before you can think through the implications of all this, you've already landed, and now get to taxi back to the office in one last attempt to savour the experience, all the while chatting about how easy it would be to get a licence. Only 8 hours before you can fly by yourself, and 40 before you can go anywhere in Australia with a passenger.

In summary, these guys are great, friendly, and capable. Why not?

No experience necessary. Top Gun jokes optional.
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Why? A taste of flying, bonding, an exciting date
When: Subject to availability
Phone: (02) 4655 8455
Where: Hangar 58, Camden airport (about an hour from the CBD)
Cost: From $259 an hour, but great deals exist
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Your Comment
Sounds like a great experience!
by Erin Connelly (score: 2|522) 1507 days ago
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