How bad does Riley Dunshea want to fly? ‘Finding $350 for an hour-long flying lesson’ bad. ‘Working every weekend to have a flying lesson once every three weeks’ bad. ‘Scrubbing dishes while completing his studies at Padua College in Mornington’ bad. ‘Navigating a flight from the control seat with a map on his lap’ bad. But more about that later.
It could be argued that learning to fly is a cashed-up person’s game, but that’s not going to stop this Safety Beach 18-year-old who has got the flying bug buzzing deep within his bones. The sky is where he wants to be, where his spirit roams free. Riley explains:
“I started taking an interest in planes when I was about 10 and went on to play flight simulator games before Mum gave me a gift certificate to fly with a pilot at Tyabb airport. I was 13. I kept begging my parents to have lessons after that. I’d played footy since I was six with South Mornington Football Club and stopped at the end of 2017. That’s when my parents agreed to pay two-thirds of the cost of the lessons and I’d find the rest.”
Enter the world of dish pig and convenience food store service. He continues: “My flying instructor saw how keen I was and offered me a job in the airport office in 2018. I’m there alone at the moment and am currently not able to fly due to lockdown. I also help out in the maintenance hangar and am doing a Bachelor of Aviation Management at Swinburne University. I’ve got my recreational pilot licence, which means I can fly in the local area and take up to three passengers with me, and my private licence, which means I can fly pretty much anywhere in the world with up to six passengers on board. Next comes my commercial licence, but you’ve got to do 200 hours of flying and seven written exams to get that. I’ve completed 125 hours so far.”
Riley wanted to be an international pilot when he started flying but has now set his sights on the Royal Flying Doctor Service or perhaps flying chartered aeroplanes up north. Whichever he chooses, he’s certainly got the guts. Imagine searching for major roads, mountains, airports or antennas on a map while flying a light aircraft with no inbuilt GPS. Care factor zero, people. Riley can go wherever he wants because he’s free as a bird. Jealous much?