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Cameron Bullock is Flying Solo!

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

✦ Flying is in Cameron Bullock’s blood - you could say the sky’s the limit for this young man!

I’ve always personally had a huge admiration for pilots. I guess it goes back to when I first flew aboard a plane as a seven-year-old boy, from the UK to Spain for a family holiday. I remember being terrified – how on earth could this huge vehicle with all these people onboard possibly take off, let alone stay airborne in the sky for the two-and-a-half-hour journey, my young, confused mind asked. I actually got quite upset, despite the best efforts of my parents and several air stewardesses to placate me.

Then my hero emerged from the cockpit. The pilot took time to not only explain how this huge vehicle with all these people onboard will take off and stay airborne but that flying is the safest way to travel. He invited me to the cockpit to show me around and, within minutes, I felt much more at ease. It still took several years for me to become a comfortable flyer, although that pilot lives long in my memory for helping me conquer my initial unease.

The point of this long-lost childhood anecdote is to illustrate my admiration for anyone who can commandeer an aircraft, whatever size and for however long. Of course my young mind didn’t have a grasp on the physics required to understand flight and, while my adult mind does, I still find it incredibly fascinating. This explains why my level of admiration for young Cameron Bullock is such, and how it was elevated to another level altogether on discovering he recently successfully undertook his first solo flight.

A Family Affair

Aviation runs in the Bullock family, with Cam’s father Mike a flying instructor. As a toddler, Cam used to join his father on flights aboard a bat plane and, what started as a fun past time, quickly turned into a genuine passion. Watch the charming video of Cam on YouTube explaining the intricacies of the Electronic Flight Information System and it is plain to see!

Cam is one of Hastings District Flying Club’s flying scholarship recipients who officially started to learn how to fly when he was 14, while still at school at MacKillop College in Port Macquarie, where he remains a student today. Having recently turned 15, the official age permitted to fly solo, he decided it was time to do exactly that, taking to the skies to become one of the youngest ever solo pilots.

“I made my first solo flight on October 4, the day of my 15th birthday,” Cam tells us proudly. “I would have done this sooner, only you are not permitted legally to do so until you turn 15 so it was an extra special occasion for me.”

He recalls a mixture of excitement and nerves ahead of the endeavour, while emphasising that the weather conditions on the day were not great. “The conditions were absolutely not ideal as there was quite a bit of wind and fog on the horizon, which made visibility quite blurry and the whole thing really difficult,” he explains. In fact, while he had earmarked his birthday as the date he would undertake his first solo flight, it wasn’t as clear cut when the time rolled around. “Further to the challenging weather conditions, I hadn’t had a good sleep the night before. It could have been the excitement of anticipation or nerves, or perhaps a combination of the two, but I felt so tired, which wasn’t ideal. I had, actually, prepared myself for the fact that I might not be able to do it.”

Mike did a few circuits with his son, which went well and helped settled any nerves. “Then Dad asked me if I wanted to have a go on my own,” Cam tells us. “I was still slightly hesitant so we agreed to do one more circuit together and, if it went well and I was comfortable, then I would go it alone.” The final father-and-son circuit did go well so it was time to take to the cockpit alone!

Slightly Surreal

“I was totally a mix of nerves and excitement, which is good,” Cam explains. “To be honest, once I got settled into the cockpit and focused I was fine and didn’t even really think about the take-off. It just came naturally, I guess. However, after turning crosswind it did hit me that I was on my own, which was slightly surreal. I kept calm though, knowing all the emergency procedures in the event of something going wrong, and realised I was fine, that I could handle it ok.”

Cam was up in the air flying solo for approximately six minutes, although it must have felt much longer. It was actually coming back down to earth that proved the most challenging part of the experience, he remembers. “Landing was probably the scariest part. I had to get over the trees but the sheer amount of wind was hitting them and creating spirals which I had to get over to overcome any turbulence. But it was fine in the end and I came in pretty well,” he says, modestly.

Cam’s first solo flight will undoubtedly be the first of many, many more to come. “Hopefully I am able to get my pilot’s license as quickly as I can,” he tells us. “Then I might be able to try and get a job with the skydiving pilot, which would be great.”

To say Cameron's exploits left everyone at the Hastings District Flying Club impressed is somewhat of an understatement. "This morning, on his 15th birthday, Cameron Bullock became the youngest pilot-in-command in Australia when he completed his first solo," commented Ray Lind, Chief Flying Instructor with the Hastings District Flying Club. "Conditions were far from perfect with 8-10 kts from the north provided him with the challenge of turbulence and a slight crosswind. Regardless, Cam flew a tidy circuit and a beautiful smooth landing. Cam has worked very hard to get ready for this day, facing very early starts for his lessons, and practicing hard on his home flight simulator. We are all very proud of his efforts. Congratulations."

Cameron himself is quick to pay thanks to the scholarship received from Hastings District Flying Club that has helped him so far realise his dreams. He is also forthcoming in offering advice for any others who similarly receive a scholarship. “Once you’ve received the scholarship and start to learn how to fly, I would recommend starting your lessons as soon as possible,” he explains. “It ensures you maximise the actual scholarship and get the best out of it, something I don’t think everyone does which leaves people losing interest. Getting involved with practical lessons straight away helps maintain the excitement and engagement levels, I believe. Also, do your homework and invest yourself in time on the simulator as it can have a huge positive impact and reinforce everything you have learned in the theory side of the lessons.”

Cam’s story immediately brings to mind a previous feature Brilliant Online ran on Zara Rutherford, who became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world in 2022. Then her 17-year-old brother, Mack, broke her record months later when he became the youngest person to fly around the world solo in a microlight aircraft. Mack gained his pilot’s licence when he was 15 after training for years with his father, which sounds incredibly similar to Cam’s experience.

Whatever Cam decides to do going forward, you can guarantee that flying will play a big part. What he has achieved already is quite remarkable and deserves great respect and credit. And to think when I was his age, I was only just conquering my fear of flying boarding a commercial plane which was in the expert hands of experienced pilots!

Take a bow, young man!

Flying training in Port Macquarie | HDFC | Brilliant-Online


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