Isis Flying Club member Geoff Jarrett loves taking to the skies in his tiny Jabiru aircraft to get away from it all.
Hurtling down the 1000-metre long grass strip at the Childers Aerodrome and taking off into the open airspace above a patchwork landscape is a gateway to some all-too-brief stress-free time.
“Absolutely no concerns regarding social distancing up there,” grinned Geoff.
A well-known local, Geoff and his wife Jenny ran an electrical business for many years. He purchased an aircraft in partnership with a Rotary mate, John Cole, about eight years ago.
“I’ve always wanted to learn to fly so John and I took the challenge together and we both achieved our pilot’s licence.
“I’ve got a bit more time on my hands these days, so I am trying to log a few more hours.
“Flying is my recreation. It’s great for my mental well-being. You just get away from all the negative news that is currently a part of the 24-hour news cycle.
“When you’re flying, in addition to enjoying the tranquillity and the views, you are totally fixated on what you are doing and ensuring the correct operation of the aircraft.”
Geoff is a member of the Isis Flying Club which is based at the Childers Aerodrome.
“It’s a club name that has caused more than one comment I can assure you,” he said.
“We have about 30 members and it’s a really good group. Our meetings, when we are able to hold them, are amicable and one of the best things is they don’t last too long.”
“One of the great things about the club is the knowledge pool that is available to someone who is less-experienced. I find it important to regularly maintain the aircraft and my fellow members are always available to help with advice.
The Childers Airstrip is under the control of Bundaberg Regional Council however Isis Flying Club members attend to the general maintenance including ensuring the airstrip and surrounds are mowed and in good condition.
About a dozen hangars are located at the airstrip along with a clubhouse. All facilities are under the surveillance of onsite security.
Geoff holds a restricted licence which allows him a flight range of 25 nautical miles.
“That’s enough flying distance to get to Bundaberg, Maryborough or Hervey Bay.
“I really just have a fairly regular flight route which takes me out over Woodgate and across the Childers district farmlands. On a perfect day you just can’t beat the different perspective flying provides for this area,” he said.
One of Geoff’s fellow pilots is Hugh Dickenson who has had a long career involving various methods of flight including ultra-light aircraft and hang gliding. He also enjoys sailing his catamaran.
Hugh, like Geoff, enjoys the freedom flying offers.
“I’m currently getting my aircraft ready for a flight to Albury to visit my daughter. I’m just tweaking a few things to make sure all is right for the flight.”
The Childers Airstrip and members of the Isis Flying Club were in regular use until coronavirus stymied their weekly “old farts” morning tea at the airstrip.
“We used to have quite a few blokes fly in and it was just a really enjoyable social occasion. Hopefully, it will be back on track once the current emergency is over.”
- Related story: Local pilot takes social distance to new heights