Former Circular Head local Cole Vincent left Tasmania to study a Bachelor of Aviation at Swinburne University four years ago. Now a qualified commercial airline pilot, Cole briefly returned to Smithton to follow in his grandfathers footsteps, performing an impromptu landing at the Smithton airport.
Having come home to Tasmania when Victoria went in to stage four lockdown Cole has been unable to get behind the wheel of an aircraft for 14 months and over the weekend he decided some practice was long overdue.
Taking advantage of Sunday’s excellent weather Vincent treated his mother to a flight in an ultralight plane he had hired out of Wynyard Airport.
Once in the air the pair made the trip to Circular Head to take in some of the beautiful sites the region has to offer and after seeing the airstrip that his grandfather, Billy Vincent, had frequented, Cole couldn’t resist.
“We did it as a bit of a joke,” Cole explained.
“When I saw the airstrip I was like . . . I have to.”
Touching down on the tarmac was a sentimental experience he won’t soon forget.
His grandfather Harold Gordon ‘Bill’ Vincent was a renowned bush pilot who was well known for his ability to take off and touchdown just about anywhere.
His extensive local knowledge was utilised for a number of search and rescue operations over the years, devoting hours in the air to searching for missing fishermen around the islands and in the Bass Strait. He also developed a prominent muttonbirding business, hunting them on the islands and bringing them back to Smithton for processing.
He logged almost 20,000 hours in the air over the course of his lifetime.
His wife, Brenda Vincent, was also a keen aviator and was one of the first female aviators in Tasmania.
Cole had caught the flying bug after an ultralight flight out of Smithton airport sitting on his fathers knee, tied in place by a piece of baling twine. Now, Cole is qualified to fly twin engine commercial aircraft.
He says that though the move to Melbourne was daunting at first, now that he has established a solid network, he thoroughly enjoys it.
“It’s honestly been brilliant,” Cole said.
Throughout his four years at university Cole has been coming home for the summer and working on a farm driving tractors and baling hay and silage, a job he thoroughly enjoys.
“It’s perfect, it fits in with the uni break really well,” Cole said.
“It’s a nice change of pace from the go-go-go of Melbourne.”
Now that he is qualified Cole hopes to become a Pilot for a regional airline before eventually setting his sites on working for the Royal Flying Doctors service.
“It requires a lot of experience, you have to be able to go anywhere, at any time, in any conditions,” Cole said.
“But I’m hoping I’ll get there one day.”
Cole Vincent, couldn’t resist touching down at the Smithton airstrip during an aerial tour of the region with his mum, Tania.