Pilot spreads his wings over Mata­mata

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Local News - REXINE HAWES

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 EYRE

Shanon is learn­ing to fly with the Mata­mata Aero Club. Shanon Eyre

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