Early last week I posted an article on surf and aviation pioneer Steve Cohen, and then late last week I got a phone call from him. It was unexpected. We made introductory small talk, beat about the bush, before he stated the reason for phoning me: "Do you want to come up for a flight?"
I've got three kids, terrible with heights, but said yes straight away.
On Wednesday, as the ABS were counting the final 'yes' votes, we bundled into a small, stubby Sky Ranger parked next to the tarmac at Wedderburn runway. Steve loves his tobacco rollies but he couldn't smoke in this plane as it was flammable. The front was fibreglass and the doors were metal, but the wings and fuselage were simply canvas over aluminium. Think of a flying tent and you're somewhere in the camping ground.
Five minutes into the flight, 1000ft over the Dhawaral National Park he played silly buggers and dropped the plane into a dive. I had no idea what was happening. Engine malfunction? Structural failure? We dropped too quick for even my life to flash in front of my eyes, but he pulled it out and gave a laugh. Har har har...
Flying over the Illawarra Escarpment was a kick, and we then dropped altitude to fly over my house and give the kids a kick too...except they were inside watching tele. From there we flew north to Stanwell Park, checked out the huts at Bulgo, spun a U-turn and flew the whole coast to Bombo. A fantastic morning even if there was fuck all surf.
Here's a few photos.
The flying tent
Woonona, Bulli, Sandon
Token Seacliff Bridge shot
Coledale looking south
Somewhere near Port Kembla an air traffic controller warned us a helicopter was travelling north in the same corridor. Turned out to be this home made gyrocopter! Backyard shapers have got nothing on aviators.
Port Kembla beach
Boneyards and Bombo
Many thanks to Steve Cohen...
Amazing. Gotta do it someday.
Wish my job had perks like yours.
Sounds like an awesome day. Did the undies get binned though?
My guts went up not down...
After that we were cool. I think Steve got it out of his system. He went on to explain that there's pretty much nothing that can go wrong in the plane, it's a putter so it can glide slowly to be brought in on a road, beach, the water, or even trees.
It doesn't sound that safe now when I think about it but up there it put me at ease.
Awesome way to see the lay of the land and reefs and other set ups,great piece of coastline alright......the flying tent......ha.
Maybe my favourite article of yours Stu.
A surfers story with no mention of waves , boards or wax.
The photos were insane.
I'm not sure if you're aware , but they meant a lot to me . Looks like an incredible day to do what you were blessed to do. Lucky fella.
Keep it coming , mate.
Had a "friend" about 20 years ago who was a pilot. We were both early 20's.
He took me for a flight in his Dad's Cessna 182. He did the whole stall to nosedive "we're gunna crash" gag with me. I remember every second of it and the histerical laughter from him for the following 5 minutes.
We didn't stay friends for long. He banged my girlfriend.
Back in the early 80s did a tandem hang glider flight over Lennox point with a customer i had done work for who happened to be an instructor........unlike Steve Cohen i was a bit scared ......but what a buzz.......not sure if your allowed to do the jump from the ridge line above the road any more but i can very mildly get a scent of what Steve was into.......