From The Archives

October 7, 1972: Thrill of flight is open to all

By Shepparton News

Since man first glued a few flimsy feathers to his arms and jumped to his death from some great height while flapping his arms madly, he has been determined to join those birds up in the sky.

It took some time, but he finally made it, and today more people are taking up flying as a hobby.

What would this first daring man think if he could see flying in the 1970s?

Whatever he thinks of those huge birds he must know whatever is driving man to take up flying, simply as a hobby, must have been the same ‘‘thing’’ that motivated him.

People learn to fly planes simply for fun or perhaps they want to travel around Australia to their own timetable, going anywhere they feel like.

Perhaps it is treated simply as a hobby or interest.

They may fly for business reasons, they may learn to fly to take it up as a career or maybe they just want to go fishing.

Recently I was out at the Shepparton aerodrome, where I talked to some of the members of the Aero Club.

It is going from strength to strength at the moment and there is always room for more members.

At the moment there are 96 people who have paid their annual subscriptions to the club.

But not every one of these 96 people have learnt to fly and a great many probably never will.

They love aeroplanes and flying, it’s as simple as that.

Being a member of the club entitles them to go on day or weekend trips with their club . . . flying, of course.

It is not every club that can offer members a weekend in Adelaide, a trip right around Tasmania or a day at Broken Hill.

It costs a reasonable $15 a year to take out a membership and, who knows, when you become a member you might like to start flying for yourself.

Things do start to get a little expensive when you do decide that this is what you want.

You are probably facing costs of around $1000 before you will get your unrestricted licence, which entitles you to fly anywhere in Australia.

The minimum age for a student pilot is 16.

By the time he is 17, he can obtain a private pilot’s licence and at 19 a commercial licence.

At the age of 21, it is possible to obtain a senior commercial pilot’s licence.

There are two instructors at Shepparton; senior flying instructor is Murray Sidebottom, who is assisted by Allan Cole.

There are about 15 students on the books at the Shepparton Aero Club at the moment.

The club has 12 planes and one of these, a two-seater Vieta air tourer, is used for trainings.

There is just enough room in it for the student and the instructor.

Some of the other planes are small two-seaters but there are the larger six- and eight-seaters, which have a 600-nautical mile range.

A student has to clock up a total of 33 flying hours before a ‘‘restricted’’ private licence will be granted.

The licence allows the pilot to operate only within five miles of the aerodrome or within the training area.

The unrestricted private licence requires 56 flying hours.

There are also different exams to be taken . . . on the ground.

There is performance of the plane, navigation planning, meteorology, air legislation and radio exams.

All are strict, but not difficult if the student is keen and really wants to fly.

After the licence is obtained you might then start thinking about buying a plane.

Things start to get expensive again.

A plane can cost anything from $5000 to $180 000 and they are only rough estimates.

The club was first constituted in the 1930s, but it lapsed because of the war.

It was reconstituted again in 1958 and has been active ever since.

The aero club first started in a grass paddock and Southern Airlines started a passenger service.

Because of the closeness of Shepparton to Melbourne it became uneconomical to continue with the service and it disbanded.

The club brought its first plane in 1960, a tiger moth.

It has 12 planes and there is a charter service as well, flying to anywhere in Australia.

Peter Garret is the president of the club, Allan Collins is vice-president, Barrie Halliday is secretary and Ron Rose is treasurer.

Ken Orrman and Don Phillips make up the remainder of the committee.

It is hard to imagine just more than 70 years ago two brothers, by the name of Wright, made the first hesitant, powered, controlled flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft.

Just look what has happened since . . . and clubs like Shepparton Aero Club are evidence of the popularity of what has to be the biggest achievement for man in the 20th century