Patrick Gorbunovs

Outback fantasy flight

PETER Sexton, owner of Byron Bay Air Charter, can't believe his good fortune.

Not only does he get to indulge his passion for flying, he also gets to share his love for country Australia with the passengers he takes on regular outback flying tours.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could do what we did last year," said Mr Sexton. "We took 86 passengers in total to Lake Eyre, three and four at a time, on three-day tours. That's 28 tours back to back with two days off in between and my little plane never missed a beat.

After a career in flying in and out of country Queensland clearing bush regrowth from power lines, Mr Sexton got his Air Operators Certifi- cate and then his Chief Pilot ticket.

"I also got an instrument rating, which means I can fly through cloud," he said.

Mr Sexton now offers a variety of outback tours departing from his base at the Ballina/Byron Gateway airport with the next flying season due to kick off on April 8.

"It's basically a three-day outback tour, complete with bush poetry, stories and a bit of banjo," he said. "We stay at 6000 feet until we get out past Goondiwindi then we don't go much above 1500 feet and down to 500 if it's smooth enough."

Mr Sexton has navigation and flight plan program, Aussie Runways, set up on his iPad and aside from getting a truly unique view of outback Australia his passengers can follow the flight using very detailed aviation maps.

"I also teach them a little bit about aviation and the systems on the plane. By the time we get home they have an understanding of how it all works," he said.

"Besides seeing the big landmarks we drop into places where there is nothing except an airstrip and a pub. We taxi up in front, hop out and have a coffee.

"It's not just a flight and you are not just a passenger; you are a very important person and what I do is make you feel like that for three days. It's all about the people and I love the flying."

Go to: byronbayaircharter

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