Michael and Carolyn Parry were both pilots when they married in 1984, with Carolyn having achieved a PPL, night rating, retractable and CSU endorsements and aerobatics rating and in the late 70s followed by a Commercial licence in 1982.
With five children between them, Carolyn took a break from flying while Michael went on to join Qantas. In 1994, the couple bought a 182RG, which Carolyn flew briefly before the couple put the aircraft online with a flying school. They sold the aircraft a few years later when they realised it wasn’t a money making venture as pilots kept landing heavily.
When Michael embarked on a tail-wheel endorsement in 2015, Carolyn decided to get current again, and after 20 hours of training, was back in the left hand seat. In 2016, the couple purchased a Cessna 172,with Michael doing the SIDs under supervision.
In August 2018, the couple undertook their first air safari, to Cape York. While Carolyn found the journey a steep learning curve, it was also the huge confidence boost she needed to get back in the av-saddle.
“Would I recommend other members joining an air safari? Hell yes!” says Carolyn. “Not only for the spectacular scenery, the kind of which you won’t see any other way, or because of the great conversations with pilots and passengers who come from many interesting professions and experiences, but also for the advantage of hours of flying (which reinforce your skills) with a group of experienced pilots from whom one learns a variety of helpful hints that might otherwise take a lifetime to accumulate.”
Excited about the Kimberleys’ trip, on which she will be doing all of the flying (again),Carolyn has begun preparation by poring over her paper maps. “I like to get a perspective of where I’m going and relate it to travelling over the ground previously by car,” she says. “I like to look around for alternates, check out all the control zones, consider who’ll I’ll be talking to and plan my options to go through them. I think about fuel options, as we can use Mogas I will ring up local councils to check for availability. This time around I have a spreadsheet to sort out all my logistics so my passengers and have a rough schedule each day. I like to plan ahead and be proactive rather than reactive. I make sure all the emergency gear is packed especially the medical kit, and I take a thermos for tea every day.”
On this trip, Carolyn hopes to rely more on her own judgement as a pilot without so much friendly advice from her husband. “I’m also looking forward to meeting interesting people to talk to, and to discover more details about both the groups’ flying and life experiences. I’m really hoping to enhance my decision making abilities so I can weigh risks appropriately. I’m looking forward to seeing the Kimberleys – from the air instead of 4×4, by boat & helicopter and also looking forward to exploring places we haven’t been,” she said.
As an aircraft owner, Carolyn enjoys knowing her own aircraft really well. “I also know how well maintained it is, which is very comforting,” she says. As an AOPA member, the Parrys are looking forward to utilising the fuel discount on the trip, as well as meeting other members and aircraft owners.