My compulsory initial medical examination before beginning my flying training, had resulted in me getting the warning that if I intended to go on and do Commercial flying, that I should have a Commercial Pilot's Medical before I started training, to see whether I would be able to pass that. I knew that my eyes would not pass that test, so I never aspired to go for the Commercial.
My last training flights at Albury had been while I was up there on holidays. I had in the mean time moved back to Melbourne. I decided to do regular flying and went at least once a fortnight out to Lillydale to fly from there. It would be 45 minutes each way, riding my little Honda scooter to Lillydale, then fly for an hour. It was good while it lasted, but it was never going to be a permanent hobby at the cost involved.
One day at work a young man, a colleague of mine, was talking with me about flying and asked whether I would take him and some friends for a flight over the Dandenong Ranges. I agreed on condition that they paid for the hire of the plane. As a private pilot I could not charge to take anyone, but I could fly a plane that they hired. We met at Lillydale, and as arranged he had two friends with him. So, four of us in the plane. My colleague sat next to me and the other two behind us. It was in a Piper and with its low wings, it was a very nice plane to do a joy flight in.
Two things occurred during that flight that made me very grateful that the training had been so thorough. The first was when flying over some of the mountains, and they are not very high. I was actually losing height while the instruments all told me that I was configured to climb. I concentrated hard and persevered and as I am writing this, you know that nothing untoward happened that day. However, it again re-enforced the knowledge that flying is not a joke. It is a serious business.
The second happened just as I was turning onto final and concentrating on getting in for a soft and comfortable landing. My colleague sitting next to me became airsick and threw up all over my right leg and of course, all over the plane. I sat there, trying not to take any notice of the acrid smell, and kept repeating to myself, "You have to get the plane down safely." They were a few tense minutes. As soon as I had control of the aircraft and could turn off the runway, I told him to throw open the door and let some air in.
I was proud to have overcome those two potentially dangerous, situations, and to have landed safely and bring my passengers back safely too.
Today flying is a wonderful memory. I limit myself to flying commercial aircraft, but I still have the licence to remind me of that wonderful adventure.