After almost three years of study and 256 practise landings, 17-year-old Eli Huisman has obtained his pilot licence.
Eli set out to become a pilot in November 2016, asking his grandfather and qualified flight instructor Lloyd Kay if he’d like to teach him.
Pop was delighted, enrolling Eli in flight school. From then on, the pair spent most Sunday afternoons together, discussing theory and taking to the sky for aerial lessons.
“It’s a big learning curve – it’s not difficult but it’s different,” says Lloyd of teaching new students to fly.
“Imagine trying to learn to drive a car if you’d never seen or been inside one. It wouldn’t be any more difficult, just unfamiliar.”
After a thorough briefing on the mechanics of the plane and how to control it, Eli buckled in for his first upper air lesson.
“It sounds daunting but it really isn’t, you just have to be cool and calm,” says Eli.
“I was just excited to finally be up there.”
The pair spent six hours over the span of two months practising turning and weight control before moving on to circuits.
Taking about six minutes per circuit, the loop involves flying in a big rectangle. Each side has its own name: crossword, downwind, base and final.
“Landing and taking off are the most difficult to get used to,” says Eli.
“On the ground you use your legs to steer, but in the air it’s your arms that do all the work.
“It can be difficult to find the balance between the two right after you take off or as you land.
Lloyd adds: “That’s why we did so many landings.”
Now that he can fly solo, Eli will begin to study for his fifth flight exam: navigation.
“I can only go within 25 nautical miles of the runway at the moment,” says Eli.
“I want to be a commercial pilot one day. I want to keep working my way up.”
In his previous exams, Eli covered everything he needed to know before going solo, including radio procedures for communication, basic aeronautical knowledge and air legislation.
He received his pilot licence on May 5, a week before Mother’s Day, surprising mum Jackie by taking her on his first ever flight without Pop by his side.
To find out more about learning to fly, contact Lloyd Kay on 0418 140 617.
Having earned his pilot licence, Eli Huisman is now qualified to take to the air all on his own. Picture: Isaac Popowski.