Growing up in a country town in North East Victoria, Australia, a young boy became fascinated with airplanes. The local orchardist had an airfield, where the sounds of small aircraft made the boy wonder how loud the noise would be inside the cockpit.
The young boy was Bob Boyd and his dream to become a pilot was realised by the time he reached the age of 25. His job in telecommunication electronics in Melbourne provided him with the security to buy his own home after having lived in a boarding house for some time. He could now budget for flying lessons.
“People often believe you need to be wealthy to learn to fly, and lease or own an aircraft. If the passion for flying is within us, we make a plan,” says Bob. The man knows what he speaks of as once he had acquired his CPL (Commercial Pilots Licence) at Moorabbin, he realised, with determination and commitment, he could also become a flight instructor, as others had done before him.
Whilst an electronics technician, every opportunity to fly was seized with open arms. It could be a city orbit or a fishing trip to Sweers Island. Bob flew around the length and breadth of Australia in myriad aircraft with mates and chartered passengers to gather flight hours, absorb knowledge about different aircraft, conditions and terrain.
In 2003, Bob qualified as a flight instructor, and having notched up his first 40 hours, he got wind of an opportunity in Coldstream, where he completed the remainder of his first 100 hours as flight instructor. The airfield was extended and eventually evolved into a tarred runway, complete with tarred taxiway, to complement the hangars for hire.
Deja vu, one could call it, as several years earlier, a flight instructor used to fly from Whittlesea to train the farmer, who owned the land at Coldstream.
“As the aviation property expanded, so did my position, and I launched the Yarra Valley Flight Training school at the end of the runway. The Coldstream Flyers Club is conveniently based near the hangars, sporting a reputation as an intimate, well-managed aviation hub in our beautiful Yarra Valley, attracting airplane enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds,” says Bob.
CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) has a minimum age requirement of 16 years to qualify for a RPL (Recreational Pilots Licence), and a minimum age of 15 years to fly solo, with the required supervision and training. Bob and his team have trained many pilots. His students vary. Some are on a tight budget and still at college or university, some are captains of industry wishing to fly their own planes, while some folks take on a second job to pursue their love of flying.
Aviators at the Coldstream Flyers Club own aircraft, lease aircraft, or invest in a plane by forming a syndicate to share the costs. Some have acquired aircraft to refurbish, while others have built aircraft from scratch as an extension of their hobby. Several commercial pilots fly smaller aircraft in their spare time to de-stress from flying passenger jets.
Many flyers opt for aircraft rental by the hour from the YVFT, where the fleet includes a Tecnam P92 Echo Super, a Piper Cherokee Warrior I, a Piper Cherokee Warrior II, a Piper Cherokee Six, and a Cessna C150.
The established flight school provides GA (General Aviation) and RA (Recreational Aviation), including CPL (Commercial Pilots Licence), training.
As the MD, and former CFI, Bob’s team is complemented by Ian Ryan, Head of Operations, who has been instructing at the school for several years, and is now the CFI (Chief Flying Instructor). His love for aviation started when he was presented with a 14th birthday gift of a flying lesson. A qualified analytical chemist, Ian’s passion is now also his chosen profession, realising others’ dreams of becoming pilots.
Dick Gower, award-winning aviator of some 50 years with over 10,000 hours under his Senior Instructor’s belt, is still involved as a consulting instructor.
In brief, to qualify for solo flight level status is competence based, as per CASA regulations; an RPL (Recreational Pilots Licence) comprises a minimum of 25 hours, to which Navigation, Controlled Airport, and Controlled Airspace credits can be added; a PPL (Private Pilots Licence) requires a minimum of 40 hours of flying; and a CPL (Commercial Pilots Licence) includes a minimum of 200 hours of flying. A Flight Instructor course comprises a minimum of 50 hours of flight.
“This region offers unprecedented beauty for aviators, ranging from lush valleys, to majestic mountains, lakes, rivers, scenic villages, the city of Melbourne on the Yarra River, and the picture-perfect bay areas,” says Bob. “Nothing compares to a smooth flight with glorious vistas.”
Spoken like a true aviator, which is within anyone’s grasp – all you need is the passion to fly a plane.