News / Community / Sport / 10th February 2022
Learners return to the sky
After a long hiatus, due to COVID-19, flight training is back under way at the Coonabarabran Aerodrome.
WardAir trainers made their way from Bathurst to provide lessons for Coonabarabran High School’s avid pilots.
The trainees were in good hands, with the company taking out the 2021 Wings Award for flying training organisation of the year.
Coonabarabran Aero Club had also been recognised by the Wings Awards in recent years, when it took out the accolade of Best Aero Club of the Year in 2020.
The local club’s president, Jason Newton, said he was looking forward to resuming flight training on a regular basis.
“We’ve been able to do a little bit over the last 12 or so months, but not as much as we’d like,” Mr Newton said.
“COVID-19 threw a big spanner in the works.”
Despite the lack of training, Mr Newton said the club was in good stead.
“You could say the club has been a bit invigorated by what we’re doing up here, especially with the high school students. Having that young blood coming through the ranks and the public awareness of what we’re doing helps, as well as the Wings ‘n Things event we held last year.
“We’ve had a lot more interest and are signing new people up to learn to fly all the time.
“This is mostly because we’ve found people who want to keep pushing for improvements and our facilities at Coona are really good compared to other regional areas.
“This Aero Club hasn’t seen anything like it before.
“On Sunday alone, three more people joined up to learn to fly.”
Mr Newton said the club had its own aircraft and may even look to add to that in the near future.
“Most smaller regional clubs don’t even have one - and here we are possibly in a position to add to it,” he said.
“That’s one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to learning to fly, being able to access a plane, and the second is being able to access good training.”
Head of operations at WardAir, Catherine Fitzsimons said the company was happy to be able to provide a service to an area that otherwise wouldn’t have access to flight training.
“It’s wonderful to see these young teenagers getting involved and going through to the effort,” Ms Fitzsimons said.
“We’ve had a dozen students at different times.”
Four students have graduated with full licences.
Anyone interested in learning to fly can contact Jason Newton on 0428 421 167.
TOP: Flight training is back underway in Coonabarabran. The team from WardAir - Geoffrey Gasior, Catherine Fitzsimons and Matt Thomas - with George Bell, Toby Newton, Max Phillips, Lachlan Campbell and Alexander McWhirter.