Pi­lot ready to spread her wings at champs

The Southland Times - - NEWS -

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 com­pete in the ju­nior land­ing and team event.

The na­tional qual­i­fy­ing rally is ex­pected to at­tract be­tween 20 and 30 com­peti­tors.

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, near 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 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 a 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.

Her hope is to get to the Fly­ing NZ 2018 Na­tional Cham­pi­onships to be hosted by South Can­ter­bury Aero Club, at Ti­maru, Fe­bru­ary 28 to March 3.

Clubs com­pete re­gion­ally to en­try to the na­tion­als.

At the south Otago rally, she is en­tered in the Jean Bat­ten Me­mo­rial Tro­phy for stu­dents, which in­cludes pre­flight, pre­ci­sion cir­cuits and land­ing, and the Wi­gram Cup team com­pe­ti­tion. gain

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