John Chandler often looks to the sky whenever he hears a plane flying overhead.
The 85-year-old from Bribie Island experienced flying for the first time at the age of 14 and from then on, he was hooked on aviation. He learned to fly in his early 20s and went for a commercial pilot’s licence five years later.
“In those days you had to complete military service and I was called up to the air force. Six-hundred people volunteered for flying training at RAAF Laverton in Victoria, 20 of us were selected and I was one of 15 who graduated,” John says.
“I applied to be a commercial pilot with Qantas, TAA and Ansett. Ansett said ‘yes’ but the starting salary was less than half of what I was earning as a civil engineer.”
John flew extensively for business and pleasure, with his work seeing him fly and co-pilot small aircraft around Australia and the Pacific Islands.
“I used my commercial flying licence as an adjunct to my professional career as a civil engineer and would fly myself as an endorsed user of single and twin-engine aircraft,” John says.
The retiree, who suffered a stroke and “took two years to get back to a normal lifestyle”, receives help from Carinity Home Care Bribie Island around the house.
Each day Carinity Home Care Bribie Island lifestyle carers help him with housework, including making beds to doing laundry, and transport him around Bribie Island and the Caboolture district.
John enjoys regular outings with his Carinity Home Care Bribie Island lifestyle carers, including a recent day trip to Caboolture Airfield. There, John took to the sky again as a passenger in a light aircraft, for a return flight from Caboolture to Stradbroke Island.
“The joy of being airborne is magic. Flying is still part of my bloodstream,” John says.
John, who only gave up flying at the age of 80, wrote the book My Flying Career: A Recollection about his time in the sky. He recently donated copies of the book to Bribie Island Library and Bribie Island Seaside Museum.
The pensioner has also written a new e-book about his life as a pilot, entitled John’s Story: My Reach for the Sky.
John Chandler at Caboolture Airfield