Flying's in the blood
Aviation is a passion, writes
My passion for aviation started at a young age – my Father Don was a PPL fixed wing pilot as well as a glider, and my grandfather Jim McCaw flew fighters during WWII in Britain. From as early as I can remember, I was either going for rides in the aeroplane with my father or listening to stories my grandfather told me about his missions during the war. Growing up through school I always had the ambition of one day learning to fly. I began my first flying lesson in mid-2002 at Wigram Aerodrome, which was actually the airbase my grandfather learnt to fly at 60 odd years earlier, and there I gained my PPL(A) not long after. I would spend every spare minute I had after my professional rugby commitments in the air. It was around 2005 that I got into gliding. It has a real sports aspect mixed in with the thrill of being able to fly around the spectacular mountains of the Southern Alps of New Zealand using nothing but nature to keep you in the air and allow you to go large distances. Having my father, two uncles, an aunt and three cousins all glider pilots as well makes it a lot of fun when the whole family are out at the airfield. In 2010 I had a helicopter flight with an instructor and instantly caught the bug. I gained my PPL(H) in 2012 with Christchurch Helicopters and absolutely love the fact that you are learning every day to become a better and more experienced pilot. Since gaining my commercial licence, retiring from professional sport and focusing on my work at Christchurch Helicopters, I have really enjoyed being able to share my passion, local knowledge and the excitement I get each time I take people out for scenic rides in our extraordinary backyard. The versatility of a helicopter is amazing and this was showcased after the Kaikoura earthquakes when our company – Christchurch Helicopters, were involved in helping evacuate locals and tourist and transport food and water into places cut off by the quake. Aviation links in so well with the country we have and I feel so lucky being able to fly around our backyard: I’m doing something I love on a daily basis.