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.
The HDFC is a great place to start. It’s been the professional flying school to go to since 1958, so it’s accumulated a lot of flying hours over the generations of instructors and students and it hasn't waned!
It's not simply just a place you go to train and graduate and be done with it. HDFC is a place close to my heart and it has become a special place where everyone who loves flying goes. There's a sense of shared passion there and with so much generosity among the instructors sharing their knowledge and experience. We have a lot of young people coming in and instructors at HDFC are all too happy to take them under their wings. Ray Lind is our Chief Flying Instructor there and he has described HDFC really well as a flying school that produces “great and respected pilots”. The HDFC has a high quality and standard which it has maintained over the years and I believe that has generated a lot of not just trust in them but it has also seeded a lot of interest and motivation in the younger generation in the community. The HDFC club has become another home for many of us, so if you can't find me at home, you can probably try the HDFC Club!
Learn to fly with the HDFC here.
If you're curious and just want a taste of what it is like to be up among the clouds in a plane as a pilot, the HDFC has a Discovery Flight experience you can try out. You'll get to fly in a Sling aircraft with one of HDFC's professional flight instructors by your side. It lasts 30 minutes and you'll get a taste of the basics of taxiing, take-off, maintaining straight and level flight and all that while flying across the coast and town of Port Macquarie. Trust me, when you get up there, you'll never see your town the same way again. It's very likely you'll fall in love with how beautiful it is.
Perhaps one day we'll meet with you in the pilot's seat in one of our club’s Sling 2 aircraft, and who knows where we'll take off to!
p/ (02) 6583 1695
Flying training in Port Macquarie: www.hdfc.com.au/flying-training-in-port-macquarie
a/ Oliver Drive, Port Macquarie Airport, Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia 2444
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