Ever wondered what it would be like to get a bird’s eye view over the beautiful Coffs Coast? Or flown into Coffs on a commercial flight and wished you had longer to take it all in? Mark White, chief Flying Instructor and Instructor Trainer at Mid Coast Microlights, shares what it’s like to fly a microlight aircraft in the area and a bit about the business of teaching others to fly.
Hi Mark. Tell us a little about your connection to the Coffs Coast?
My connection with the Coffs Coast began when a good friend of mine, who is the Principal of the Coffs Harbour Community Christian School, Mr Rodney Lynn, asked me to instruct his students to fly ultralights and microlights.
I was previously operating for many years at Port Macquarie, but saw the huge opportunity that the Coffs Harbour area offered and the need for a professional flying school, so with the help and willingness of the Coffs Harbour Airport Management, we purchased and renovated our hangar, which included a training room, modern kitchen, bathroom and office/reception area. We also purchased a new Foxbat Ultralight plane plus another Airborne microlight called The Silver Bullet.
Since then we have had many local, interstate and international students come through, and several of those getting their pilots certificate before they were legally able to drive a car! We are very proud of the fact that we are one of the only schools in Australia that specialises in teaching school students how to fly.
First off, what is a Microlight?
A Microlight is a two seat factory built CASA approved weight shift aircraft. It is a very unique flying machine that you feel part of when you fly. It’s like the wing is attached to you; you feel like an eagle soaring around the sky. It’s an incredible feeling. The base of the aircraft acts like a pendulum under the wing. This enables the aircraft to shift the weight from side to side and front to back. It is a very strong and well built machine, giving you a safe and secure feeling of flying. It’s often referred to as a Trike, or as I call it, a 3D motorcycle in the air.
How long have you been operating Midcoast Microlights?
I have operated Midcoast Microlights for the past 25 years. During that time I have flown all kinds of ultralights and general aviation aircraft. I am also a chief flying instructor/instructor trainer who offers advanced flight training and endorsements to those pilots wanting to better their flying skills with more knowledge and safet – safety being the operative word. We take safety very seriously here at the school.
What is the experience like flying over the Coffs Coast?
The experience of flying in controlled airspace like Coffs Harbour is priceless. It’s not uncommon to be taxiing out with big commercial jets such as Qantas and Virgin. Often the passengers are waving to us as we pass them on the taxiway.
I am the only microlight school in Australia to operate in controlled airspace, which gives the students a very professional environment to learn in. It gives me great satisfaction to watch my students go from being nervous and unsure of themselves to confident and very capable pilots.
What’s your favourite thing about operating on the Coffs Coast?
My favourite thing about operating on the Coffs Coast is the beautiful scenery – some of the best in Australia. Our five big training areas take in our spectacular beaches, which include all the way south to Nambucca Heads or north to Woolgoolga, then it goes right out to the hinterland around the Bellingen area and its lovely waterfalls. I never become tired of teaching my students in this environment!
How long have you been teaching students how to fly?
I’ve been teaching students for over 20 years now. Our training syllabus is recognised as one of the best in the world. We guide our students through the whole process with regular theory classes, which include post and pre flight training. We make it fun and easy.
Who can learn how to fly and at what age?
Anyone at any age can learn to fly, as long as you can reach the controls and understand instructions. The minimum age to go solo is 15 years. We turn over our aircraft on a regular basis, so as the students are always learning in a state of the art plane.
How long does it take to get your pilot licence?
It depends on commitment and consistency, but usually it takes around 20 hours.
Can you fly just for fun?
Yes, most people do just fly the microlight for fun, starting with a one hour trial Introductory flight. Anyone who is an adrenaline junkie just loves the speed of it, which reaches 160 km per hour, and its manoeuvres are breathtaking. Channel Seven’s show, The Sydney Weekender did a great story on us recently that can be watched on our website. The reporter reckoned it was the best fun he has ever had doing a story.
With the ultralight plane, students can also put the hours towards making a career out of aviation.
Where can we find out more about Midcoast Microlights?
You can find more out about us from our website:
or call 0428 850 062 or email us at email@example.com