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Women's Aviation World Wide Week

Home > Brisbane > Adventure | Outdoor
by Bee Hewitt (subscribe)
I am an artist living in Beachmere Qld
Published April 5th 2014
A free flight in an open 1930's replica cockpit
Free flight in an open cockpit aircraft
A flight in a 'Pietenpol Air Camper

Have you ever dreamed of flying? Gliding through the air with the greatest of ease?

Well I had my first open cockpit flight in a Pietenpol Air Camper. In short this was a light, powered blue aircraft, your quintessential vintage monoplane plane designed by Bernard H Pietenpol in 1928.

It was Women's Aviation World Wide Week and The Australian Vintage Aviation Society was offering free 15 minute flights in a reproduction of the 1930s Pietonpol Air Camper. Or, a 20 minute flight in a Jabiru J 23, a two seater, closed-in cockpit a light sport, recreational plane, perfect for learning to fly. Heather, a female pilot, and her husband Bill, a flight instructor, run Caboolture Recreational Aviation, and they were offering a special $50 flying experience over Caboolture.

Air flights over Caboolture
A Jabiru and a Pietenpol Air Camper

I jumped at the chance to fly in what may (hopefully) be my first of many flying lessons and so reasonably priced.

I arrived early at Hanger 106 on Friday along with a small group of women all eager to fly. We met Nathalie Gochel (Learning to Fly) and her partner Andrew Carter, founder of TAVAS and collector of WW1 planes. The planes were displayed in the hanger.

Plane in a hanger
Checking out our vintage aircraft

Beautifully reproduced and100 per cent accurate to 100 years ago. Andrew being a WW1 enthusiast, wants to remind people of the Air Battles and the brave pilots who paid the ultimate price.

But today we are remembering women pilots

The Soviet Union was the first country in the world to allow Women to fly combat missions against the Nazis in World War 2 . Some as young as 20, three entire regiments of women pilots and bombers became known as the Night Witches as they flew only at night to drop their bombs on the unsuspecting Germans. Their bi-planes were made of ply and canvas, slow and originally made for crop dusting. The witches flew eight to eighteen missions in a night braving freezing conditions, enemy fire and the disrespect of their brothers in arms.
With a heart filled with pride and bravery for their efforts I was ready to go on my first open cockpit flight.

Finally strapped in, we taxied out on to the run way and after a quick burst of speed we were flying in the air.

Ready for take off
Strapped in and ready for take off

Amazingly rugged and windy, I was glad of the head gear and windbreaker. With views of the Glasshouse Mountains and rural Caboolture our little plane ducked and dived on the wind currents, making me feel both vulnerable and excited.

Flying over Caboolture
In the open cockpit of the Pietenpol Air Camper

It was over all to soon and in Andrew's capable hands we were soon back on the Caboolture airfield back to the enthusiastic encouragement of the waiting woman.

The flight in the Jabiru felt a lot safer in the modern enclosure and sheep skin seats. Bill the pilot ran through the controls and a brief run down on how to fly. Seated next to Bill I was able to have a go on the joy stick and take some photos of Caboolture with my iPad.

Birds Eye view of Caboolture
Flying over Caboolture

After landing and evaluating my experience flying I have come to the conclusion that learning to fly is do-able. It would only cost as much as private school fees for the year, or maybe a tooth transplant. With a minimum 20 hours in-house flight training, it would cost roughly $4215.00 ($180.00 per hour tuition).

The women's Aviation World week is all about promoting and supporting women in the aviation industry. Another organisation for women interested in flying is the Australian Women Pilots. Their mission statement is to to foster closer relationships and unity among women pilots; to assist women to undertake flying in Australia and elsewhere; to develop public interest in aviation and generally help in the development of aviation.
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Why? Learn to fly
When: Anytime
Phone: (07)5499-1699
Where: Hanger 104 Caboolture Aerodrome, McNaught Road, Caboolture
Cost: $180 per flight tuition
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