Lift off for flying school as first pilot graduates
WHEN a Jabiru 160 touched down at South Grafton Aerodrome two men could celebrate a significant milestone in their flying careers.
David Mackey became a fully fledged pilot and Peter Clement celebrated the first graduate from his flying school.
Mr Mackey started his aeronautical journey nearly 10 years ago when he started training in the Darling Downs, and after a break decided to start flying again, this time with Clement's Flying School in Grafton.
His instructor decided to follow his passion and became a senior flying instructor less than a month ago on the Grafton Aero Club's Wings and Wheels open day.
"I have been training people on my own at South Grafton since that day so as of now Grafton has its own flying school," Mr Clement said.
"My interest started in primary school. I was building plastic models and then as I got older I built remote control aeroplanes and then when I left school I learnt to fly."
Mr Clement has been involved in the industry ever since, building his own ultra-light aircraft and servicing aircraft engines at South Grafton Aerodrome.
He said his 16 years as a paramedic influenced his decision as he wanted to combine his passion for aviation with a desire to help the community.
And he can still picture the first time he was able to pilot a plane on his own, in Coffs Harbour back in 1977.
"I have always been interested in serving others and been involved in mentoring young people and I think aviation can really help build confidence.
"A lot of young people don't have a vision, they don't know what they want to do. And I felt I had the gifts and talents to be able to instruct.
"I remember the exhilaration of being able to fly myself. The sense of achievement you get - hey, I am doing this myself - now the instructor is not there I had to get it right."