My life, as far back as I can remember, started when my grandfather took me out to the model aircraft airfield and I got my first taste of aviation. I continued tagging along with my grandfather until one day, at the age of 6 or so, I landed the model aircraft on my own. The whole airfield had stopped flying, started drinking beers and were watching me as I made my first landing ever.
I kept going every weekend, with my grandad, for years.
He decided to get involved in bigger model aircraft and eventually ended up flying Large Scale Model Aerobatics. This was where my passion really took off and at the age of 12 or 13 I started competing in the local, monthly competitions. I won my first title as champion of the Sportsman(Beginner) class when I was 14 and just took-off from there(excuse the terrible pun).
I have won multiple Unlimited Class(The big boys class) titles in the South African National Large Scale Aerobatics competitions and the South African T.O.C (Tournament of Champions).
I decided at a very young age that I had to become a real pilot and fly full sized aircraft and my granddad again helped me to achieve this goal. When I was 18 I completed my private pilots license and most of that experience was on a SkyRanger Swift light sport aircraft(You don’t have to fly a Cessna to become a pilot).
I completed my Commercial license and Instructor rating at the age of 21 and for over a year a struggled to find any work, South Africa is a cruel mistress.
Eventually I was offered a job, crop spraying!
Needless to say it was an adventure and completely unconventional as I was flying Gyro-copters and Light Sport Aircraft in and around very mountainous terrain in the heart of the Ceres Mountain range. We operated a number of aircraft including a Magni M16, a Sycamore, an ELA, a Sky-Jeep and a purpose-built Ag-gyrocopter called a Trojan(What a heap of…).
I made an amazing life-long friend in the year I did the crop spraying but the boss, working environment and commercial pressure were horrible.
My training consisted of some circuits to get rated in a gyro-copter and a GPS “how-to-switch-it-on guide”.
I was then thrown into the wilderness to spray citrus orchards with 250 hours total flight time and 16 hours on a gyro-copter. We always had poorly maintained aircraft and allot of the maintenance we were forced to do ourselves as we were threatened with dismissal and pay cuts if the job wasn’t completed.
It was a tough experience but a lot of life lessons were learnt in a very short period(Thank goodness) and after a year I immigrated to New Zealand.
It is funny how I ended up in another less then ideal situation here in New Zealand upon arrival as the company I started working for had the same poor maintenance approach, poor instructional techniques and the boss had even called himself, “anti-authoritarian” and thought the sun shone from…you know the rest.
I just carried on and marched slowly forward.
I achieved all my New Zealand pilot licensing to match my South African licensing all the while achieving a NZ Diploma of Aviation to one-up on my own personal best back in South Africa.
I hold the following licenses/ratings:
- Commercial Pilots License
- Instructor Rating: B-Category, Aerobatics & Spinning and Night Flight
- Multi-Engine Instrument rating
- NZ Diploma of Aviation, specialization in Instruction
Up to this point life has been like pushing a mud slick up the steep face of a mountain side but I’m still pushing. If I gain an inch or a mile each day it makes no difference… I’m always getting a little further and if we all aim to complete at least one goal each day we can go miles without even noticing it, however when you do notice what you have accomplished it will make it all worth it.
This attitude has lead me to starting This Side Up Aviation, my own brand based around the connection that aviation brings to all of us. If you fetch you loved ones from the airport, salivate over the amazing aircraft at an airshow or eat your favorite food in a foreign country, imported from home, aviation brings us all closer together and has a positive affect on all of us everyday.
It is with great pleasure that I keep pushing everyday to share my story, aspirations and goals with all of you and I hope you will join this community where we are all…