Stu­dent aero club pi­lot aim­ing high...

Clutha Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - MARY-JO TO­HILL

A woman’s dream will take flight this week, when she takes part in the Fly­ing NZ Lakes Re­gional Rally at Bal­clutha, which starts on Fri­day.

Hosted by South Otago Aero Club, stu­dent pi­lot Lisa Watt, 37, of Bal­clutha, will be com­pet­ing in the ju­nior land­ing and team event with three other mem­bers.

Born in Christchurch, Watt’s fam­ily moved to Bal­clutha when she was aged 15, where she at­tended South Otago High School. Af­ter leav­ing school she set out on her over­seas travel, and fell in love with fly­ing.

On her re­turn to South Otago, she did an in­ter­na­tional flight at­tend­ing, travel and tourism course, com­mut­ing to Sir Ge­orge Sey­mour Col­lege in Dunedin.

About then she met her now husband Chris Watt, who was farm­ing at Kaka­puaka, just south of Bal­clutha. They’ve been mar­ried five years.

‘‘I couldn’t do the fly­ing [as an at­ten­dant] out of Bal­clutha, so I did other things.’’

She raised her 12-year-old daugh­ter Ebony from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship, and is step mum to Chris’s two chil­dren.

Us­ing her ser­vice and hos­pi­tal­ity qual­i­fi­ca­tions, Watt has worked at the Clutha i-Site and Rose­bank Lodge, and now owns and runs ac­com­mo­da­tion at Kaka Point, as well as help­ing run the fam­ily sheep and beef farms at Hina Hina and Mil­ton.

She al­ways knew she wanted to fly, and to have lessons.

About a year ago, the South Otago Aero Club ad­ver­tised in the Clutha Leader for a sec­re­tary/ trea­surer.

‘‘I got the job, and that gave me the push I needed to fly - no more ex­cuses.’’

She has been tak­ing lessons since April, and had clocked-up 14 train­ing hours.

‘‘I love it, and the fact it ex­er­cises the brain. I could be qual­i­fied as a brain sur­geon be­fore I’m fin­ished, it re­ally is that much of a chal­lenge.

‘‘It’s taught me I can do any­thing I want to.’’

Her daugh­ter is also keen to fly, so be­tween them they’re ad­vo­cates for get­ting more women into fly­ing.

‘‘I’ve told her to aim high.’’

It’s also been a chal­lenge get­ting her hours up in some of the ad­verse fly­ing weather over the last four months.

Stu­dent pi­lots can go solo when they’ve done be­tween 50 and 60 hours.


South Otago Aero Club mem­ber and ju­nior pi­lot, Lisa Watt of Rom­a­hapa.

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