Morgan, 16, a solo chopper pilot
HE can’t drive a car, but the sky was the domain of Morgan Vidler on his 16th birthday yesterday.
The Buderim teenager unofficially is Australia’s youngest ever solo helicopter pilot.
Torrential rain and grey skies cleared to give Morgan his moment in the sun at 1.20pm.
His student licence was approved after 13 years in the making.
As a toddler, Morgan and his father Denver would stand for hours peering through the Sunshine Coast Airport fence as planes and helicopters came and went.
Yesterday, Morgan’s assessment of his effort with a 378 kilogram mix of aluminium and titanium was met with unanimous agreement from the Real Pilots Don’t Need Runways T-shirt-wearing crowd of spectators.
“I did it perfectly,” Morgan said, still entranced by video footage two hours later. “In my opinion,” he adds with an impish grin.
CASA, the FAI and the Australian Sport Aviation Confederation do not have age accomplishment records, but 16 is the earliest age at which a person can get a student helicopter licence.
After his parents Denver and Rowena bought him his first introductory helicopter flight three years ago, the single-minded teenager has focused on the day he could get his helicopter licence.
Despite all the thousands of dollars, the hundreds of hours of study and the priceless guidance of pilots like the Sunshine Coast’s Mike Becker, it all came down to the weather yesterday.
“It (the weather) is the difference between live or die,” Morgan said.
He hopes to achieve another birthday milestone with his private licence next year and his commercial licence one year later.
Morgan is studying for his Diploma in Aviation and hopes to train others like him years from now.
But this may be the Sunshine Coast’s first glimpse at the next hero of the sky for this hopeful rescue pilot.
In the end, it was reality which provided the day’s least soft landing for the Suncoast Christian College student.
“Wow, I have a maths assignment due tomorrow, thanks for the reminder,” Morgan said with a laugh.