Opinion

Air-headed cadet

By Michael Von Güttner

There isn’t anything quite like flying.

A push upwards, seemingly from underneath, and perspective changes.

Everything you know on the ground becomes tiny beneath your wings and steadily shrinks into a small part of the landscape, laid out below like a huge knitted quilt.

If I could, I would be up in the air every day but settle for every chance I get.

Another opportunity to listen to the aircraft’s engine thrumming through headgear and feel the rush of take-off.

Piloting the plane, now that is just a rung above.

419 Squadron cadets with the Diamond. Picture: Alan Male

I have been a member of Shepparton’s Australian Air Force Cadets 419 Squadron for the past three years and during that time have gone up in small aircraft many times, with opportunities to fly at least twice a year.

The weekend of February 8 was one of those chances.

In the Commonwealth-funded Cadet Flying Experience, starting early on Saturday, most of the squadron flew for more than 30 minutes each with an instructor before landing at Shepparton Airport.

That day a lucky cadet was able to have a longer flight over to Benalla to refuel the Diamond DA40 NG.

After hurrying breakfast, pulling on my uniform and boots and heading to the airport early, I was the first of the Sunday group into the air.

The morning was bright and almost completely clear, and after brushing back up on my piloting skills I got a course in visual flight rules for the Diamond.

A view of Shepparton from the air.

I had not flown in one of those slick planes before, only Cessna 172s and Piper Warriors, and so adjusting to the new aircraft took a bit of time.

Keeping the aircraft level, practising banking and turns, and knowing what was going on without looking at the sophisticated instruments on the dash was the order of the day.

Flying over the Goulburn towards Undera, there was still a noticeable haze to the north that slightly obscured the horizon — probably lingering smoke from bushfires in NSW.

Time flew and I was soon instructed to turn the aircraft around and head for the landing strip.

While I think flying is one of the most sublime things in the world, I have a terrible habit of forgetting to drink enough water.

This had been the case in my rush to get ready for the morning.

I was struck by a headache during the descent, made worse by many unsuccessful attempts to pop my ears as the aircraft descended.

Right at the fun bit.

Because of this vexing ailment, the instructor landed the aircraft.

It already feels like the next flight is too far away for me, but lucky recruits will fly in May.

419 Squadron is holding a recruitment open night this Friday at the Somme Barracks, 110 Sobraon St, Shepparton from 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm. For more information phone 0481 111 305 or email [email protected]