SAFE LANDING: Tom Moon, at left, and aircraft mechanic John Davison inspect the engine.
SAFE LANDING: Tom Moon, at left, and aircraft mechanic John Davison inspect the engine.

Perfect Moon landing in Valley field

By ADRIAN MILLER

FORWARD somersaults, vertical dives and negative 10 G-spins are normal manoeuvres for aerobatics pilot Tom Moon, but even the best can be grounded by simple things.

For the four-time Australian aerobatics champion, yesterday was one of those occasions, when a broken spark plug forced him to land at McIntyres Field, Palmers Island, while on a trip north from Sydney.

While it's not the best feeling to hear a loud bang from your plane engine while a few thousand feet above the ground, it did give Mr Moon the chance to land at an airfield he has seen many times but never had the pleasure of landing on.

"I saw the strip and I was thinking 'I'll have to remember that for next time', and just as I thought that, bang, the spark plug went," he said.

Mr Moon, an aerobatics pilot for 20 years, has competed in world championships all over the world, as well as taking out the Australian championship three years in a row from 1999-2001 and again in 2003.

"I flew a plane to Perth and back once, and thought there's got to be more to flying than going in a straight line, so I took one aerobatics lesson and that was me, I was hooked," he said.

Now that he is rated as an 'ultimate' flyer, the highest classification level out of five, Mr Moon no longer competes.

"I've retired from competition because it's not much fun competing against yourself," he said.

His plane, an Extra 300s, is among the best in the world, and with a distinctive wedged-tail eagle design emblazoned on the cockpit, it isn't hard to miss.

"When you're hanging upside down with negative-Gs trying to pull you out the cockpit and the blood rushing to your head, it's a lovely sight when the ground comes rushing up at you," he said.



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