Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Many flying dreams have been made a reality at Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus). As the main body in Australia responsible for administering ultralight, recreational and Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) operations, it has been actively supporting the future of aviation in Australia.
One way it does this is via the RAAus scholarships. These are awarded annually to people wanting to learn to fly, become maintainers or to be a flying instructor. The RAAus scholarships are a much coveted opportunity for people who yearn to take to the skies and go even further in their flying journey.
Bruce Dunlop is an upcoming flying instructor who has recently received a scholarship from the RAAus. Bruce got his scholarship at the age of 68 and he has fully immersed himself in an instructor training course. We spoke to Bruce about his flying experiences and where he plans to soar off into next.
What made you apply for the RAAus scholarship?
I'm a member of the Hastings District Flying Club (HDFC) and flying has always been a part of my life. I love having the skills and freedom to take a plane up on my own. There's something about the passion of flying that makes me want to do more with it. It's not enough to simply be able to fly solo.
When I was thinking about the RAAus scholarship and obtaining my instructors rating, part of it was for my own personal development in reaching for another challenge, but it’s also something I want to do for the betterment of our HDFC club. I'm all for sharing the good stuff. I want to pass on my skills and experience to newcomers and associates and feel I have something to offer.
I think passion needs to be fed in order to grow. I'm never tired of learning something new and when you give something away, you also receive. I am really excited and grateful to have obtained the scholarship - it will contribute greatly to the cost of training. It's a big motivation for me.
Where do you see yourself going (or flying) from here?
Ultimately, I want to teach people of all ages to fly safely, skillfully and with confidence. Flying is an indescribable experience, it's not something I can put into words or show you. You’ve to feel it for yourself, the immense pleasure of not just flying but of being able to do it solo. I want to take the next steps that come so I can gain as much experience as I can, and clock up my hours instructing. I want to gain a senior instructor rating. And who knows what I'll do next after that!
Are there any barriers to achieving your goal?
Some people have been a bit taken aback and skeptical about applying for a flying scholarship at my age. There are also those who were really encouraging and impressed and even motivated by what I'm doing. Flying is very much a part of my life. It's driven by something much more than age. What really matters is, if you have something to give back to the community, I say go for it.
I still have about four more months to go before I finish the part-time course and am qualified to instruct. And I'm enjoying every minute of it!
What is involved in your training to be an instructor?
Most of the teaching is practical. And what is really cool is, the training aircraft itself is the classroom. Really makes you want to jump out of bed and get to class everyday!
The main part of my training is to develop my own “patter”. What this means is to be able to give clear instructions, to demonstrate and coach the student. It's a remarkably busy and challenging environment to teach in. Now I'm flying with a training instructor who acts as my student and is helping me develop my teaching technique.
How can people interested get involved in flying?
Flying is a wonderful sport and requires mental and physical preparation, training and it comes with its unique challenges. The pay off is well worth it, and people who do start learning how to fly find themselves wanting to learn and train more with each flight.