Pilot spreads his wings over Matamata
There is nothing Shanon Eyre would rather do with his spare time than see the world from a distance.
The sharemilker from Pirongia has spent the last three years living his childhood dream of becoming a pilot.
He has no desire to pilot large aircraft but just wants to be able to jump in a plane and see the country from a different view.
‘‘It’s something I have been thinking of since I was little. But I never chased it.
‘‘And getting around to doing it, was another thing.
‘‘I have been sharemilking for 10 years but now I can take a day off.’’
He approached several aero clubs, but he found there weren’t enough instructors or it was too expensive.
He finally found what he was looking for at the Matamata Aero Club.
Rainer Kunnemeyer, a professor at Waikato University, instructs at the Waharoa aero club free of charge.
So Eyre would only have to cover the hire the plane, a Zenith CH601 XL.
‘‘At Matamata, the whole set up is great. It has a great big runway and not too much traffic.
‘‘At other small but busy airports, there are lots of distractions with lots of planes coming and going.
‘‘There aren’t many instructors who don’t charge for their time. We are pretty lucky to have Rainer.’’
With Kunnemeyer beside him, Eyre finally took to the skies and in May 2015, he flew solo for the first time.
‘‘He (Kennemeyer) didn’t tell me, we did a few circuits together and then he said, right, you are going solo.
‘‘I had to put it in the back of my mind and pretend he was next to me.
‘‘It was quite intense, I was ner- vous. I got down and landed and I was buzzing.’’
And the buzz stayed with him for quite some time, as wife Katharine will testify to.
‘‘That’s all I talked about with Katharine for about a month,’’ he laughed.
‘‘I love being in the air, it’s amazing how nice everything looks.
‘‘Landing is always a thrill, it’s different every time.’’ Visit the Matamata Chronicle Neighbourly page to watch our video of Shanon Eyre.
He is also a hero to his three boys, aged 10, 9 and 5.
‘‘They think it’s cool dad flies in a plane. I haven’t taken them up yet.’’
And they have seen him in the air for themselves, as he has done a few fly-overs of the family home.
Eyre calls flying his fix - and like any addiction, agitation will set in if it’s not satisfied.
‘‘This last winter and with calving, I didn’t get out as much as I like.
‘‘I miss it. I get agitated if I haven’t been up. I relax when I am up there.
‘‘When I am up there I am not thinking of cows whatsoever,’’ he said.
He has another 10 hours of flying to complete before he achieves his passenger classification.
While Katharine is not keen to be the first passenger, his mate Dylan was brave enough to volunteer.
‘‘Dylan said he would be keen to be my first passenger to ‘take the chance’. My brother said he would wait until I reached 1000 hours.
‘‘I think I have done enough flying now that taking someone up will be quite exciting.
‘‘Whether Dylan is as excited - he might be clinging on and white knuckled,’’ he said.
Eyre said Matamata Aero Club is not used as much as it could be, and he would encourage anyone to go out to the airstrip, ask some questions and see what it’s all about.
‘‘It would be great if others want to come out and experience what’s available here.’’
‘‘It was quite intense, I was nervous. I got down and landed and I was buzzing.’’
Shanon is learning to fly with the Matamata Aero Club. Shanon Eyre