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(This story is located at Google Earth: "AeroStar Aviation Caloundra Airport" lat=-26.799000291, long=153.112816012)

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When he first turned up at my flight school on his pride and joy old black Harley motorcycle, with a wad of cash in his shoulder bag, I could tell that big Gazza was a bit different from the other blokes.

Maybe it was the fact that he stood out because he paid in cash for his flying - it was a lot of money in these days of credit cards,    or that he always seemed to wear the same attire,    or maybe it was how he announced his arrival by riding his motor bike through the front door of the building – through the foyer scattering other students left and right -  and then out the back door,    or his unexplainable incredible apparent short term memory loss or even the fact that he said he was a non violent debt collector (as he stated that the tats on his arms and his large girth made even the worst offender quiver when he filled their doorway late at night),    whatever it was – I’ve never forgotten Gazza.

He was quite a character – and we all liked what seemed an opposite to his visual appearance - his gentle and happy ways and his plain old good manners. Maybe his green diet was the answer.

Sandy was an excellent flight instructor and he enjoyed working with Gazza, as the big man would have caused an R22’s right skid to stay stuck permanently on the ground and Sandy enjoyed instructing in the Bell 47G.

As good as Sandy was showing him how and what to do - Gazza was having trouble keeping the machine in balance with the tail rotor during the first ab initio lessons – and there quite a few extra flight hours come to think of it.
Sandy was getting frustrated until he came up with a brilliant idea.

“I had taken both doors off because it was getting hot and mainly because Gazza had missed his weekly shower” Sandy said, “and that’s when I saw that Gazza’s beard was the answer”

From that day on, thanks to Sandy, Gazza knew when he had the machine out of balance.

Whenever the slipstream came roaring through either the RH or LH door space, his beard pointed to the left or right as the machine tracked sideways through the air.

Trouble was, when he ever got it into balance, it came up over his eyes.

They nicknamed Gazza (privately because he was a big boy) “Windsock” and the name stuck.

When he was put up for his flight test, he showed me what a happy and relaxed guy he was as he flew serenely over obvious navigation points without noticing them - like a happy cowboy riding into the sunset.

After a few attempts he passed and he then later flew off onto the sunset in his Bell 47G 3B1 never to be heard from again. Maybe he is still sitting in it with his big happy smile enjoying his "cigarette" and chasing the sun.

Some people are born to be happy Pilots.



True Story –





Tony Carmody


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