Glenn Graham is a Operations manager and a aerobatic pilot with the Paul Bennet Airshows team and is also the operations manager for AeroHunter warbird flights.
- How did you become involved with aviation industry and flying, and at what age? My Father has always been very active in his local flying club. As far back as I can remember, I have memories of hanging out at the Mid Murray Flying Club at Swan Hill with my older brother, it was really a second home for my brother and I.
- How did you find learning to fly – going through the stages of gaining your licenses and approvals – was it easy or challenging for you? Whenever I used to go flying with my father I was always very hands on (give us go dad!), and I would watch Aerobatic training videos from a very early age, so my understanding and aircraft handling skills always felt natural, so in turn at age of 15 the transition to a student pilot was very straight forward. One year later I found myself skipping school to go solo in a plane for the first time on my 16th birthday, from then on, aviation was more challenging in the fact that I was on my own financially, so progress had slowed, I did gained my PPL when I was 18 years old. Today the challenges continue as I am in the process of finishing my CPL in between working full time and being a father.
- What skill have you gained from flying that you may not have gained, if you had not taken up flying? The most important of the skills I have gained in the type of flying I partake in is definitely expanding my situational awareness. The ability to take in and mediate all threats to the safety of myself, my aircraft and those around me, at all times, can be a matter of life or death. Taking the example of low level aerobatics, you have to continuously review your current position, the effect of wind, the next part of the sequence, your speed, decent rate, engine management, the aircraft limitations, personal limitations, sometimes all of these in a matter of seconds. Then add in a wingman to the mix and you have to be really on top of your situational awareness not only yourself but your team mates as well. I can’t think of anywhere out side of flying, I would of needed that amount of heighten awareness.
- What is your most favourite aircraft to fly and why? Easy! Pitts Special. Isn’t it everyone’s favourite!? The presence that a Pitts has on the airfield and when airborne, really is something special. Nothing to me is as beautiful as a red Pitts, trailing white smoke, in a clear blue sky. My mother still has drawings of Pitts Specials I drew when I was in pre-school! Can’t get enough! Flying the Pitts is just as satisfying, with fantastic performance.
- What got you interested in flying an aerobatic aircraft? I was never really interested in flying straight and level, I found it quite a bore, but, I enjoyed riding along as my old man would throw the PA-28 around while streamer cutting. I was always excited at watching the great flying skills from Chris Sperou and the Sky Dancers Aerobatic Team. I was also lucky enough to have airshow legend, Pip Borrman attend Swan Hill regularly to see his mother, and on many occasions he would bring his then Pitts or Edge 540. I can still remember dragging my mother out of church on Sunday’s because I would hear the distinct sound of Pip’s plane flying over. Pip would always put on a great show over his mothers house, so I knew that aerobatic planes was the part of aviation that really excited me.
- What kind of issues have you found in flying an aerobatic aircraft that are different compared to GA aircraft? Comfort can be an issue. Aerobatic aircraft are usually designed for that one purpose only, so the luxuries of good noise insulation for the pilot, warmth and space is really an after thought to most aerobatic aircraft designs and with their usually small fuel tanks a flight plan takes a lot more planning and consideration than a regular GA aircraft.
- What is your most memorable flight experience that you would like to share? As you can probably tell by my other comments that my most memorable experience would have to be the day I finally went solo in a Pitts Special. A life long dream was realized on that day thanks to the great instruction of Phil Unicomb. Just thinking about it now gets my heart racing with excitement the same as I felt that day when I lined up the runway.
- What are your views of the current aviation industry in Australia? Over regulated.
- Can the industry expand further perhaps bringing more people into flying etc? I believe the guys from the RAA and SAAA are doing a great job at promoting aviation and bringing new faces to the joys of flight. Not easy while the industry suffers from rising costs. It would be fantastic if the government got behind more airshows in Australia. Nothing inspires the young and old more about aviation that a good old fashion Air show!
- Do you find the regulations and rules imposed on flying a factor in deciding if you want to fly? Not myself personally. I have meet many great personalities and friends over the years in aviation, and these guys are what make aviation great, and this reminds me how much fun flying can be. Sadly, if someone is new to aviation I can easily see them becoming disheartened quickly about the ever-changing rules, regulations and costs.
- What goals have you got for the future with your aviation interests? Always important to set goals in everything you partake in, and I have many. Pushing myself to get my aerobatics to standard to successfully compete in at a World Championships is a goal I set at a very young age, and every flight I feel it is another step closer in the right direction. Near future goal would be complete my CPL and hopefully share my skills and knowledge to others, like many have done for me.