Microlight pilot gets bird's-eye view of Fraser Island
FOR it to feel more like flying, recreational pilot David Lewis says you would have to grow feathers.
The Hervey Bay resident's passion for flying his batwing microlight has seen him spend more than 1500 hours in the air, flying in Hervey Bay and the UK.
Mr Lewis' interest in microlights started with radio-controlled model aircraft and flying boats until he graduated to the real deal 10 years ago.
"Microlights are becoming quite popular and there are about half a dozen in the Bay and Maryborough," Mr Lewis said.
"One of these days, we might get them all in the air at the same time and have a swarm of microlights!
"So far, we've had three up together."
Microlights, which are often described as hangliders with a motor, two seats and three wheels, are just about the simplest form of aircraft there is and although they are slow paced, Mr Lewis said many pilots had taken on epic flights like London to Sydney, around Australia or over Mt Kilimanjaro.
Locally, Mr Lewis sticks to the skies over Sandy Cape, Double Island Point and Paradise Dam.
He often turns off the engine for a few minutes to take in the peace and tranquility of the Fraser Coast.
He said the best conditions for flying were early in the morning, when the wind was light.
"Flying in the early morning can be quite magical, with the sun coming up over Fraser Island, patches of mist lying in the valleys and the surface of the lakes like glass," he said.
"I really feel very privileged to be able to fly in such a beautiful area.
"Every flight is different in some way and sometimes there are special moments - like a flock of lorikeets flying just off one wingtip, seeing pods of dugongs or spotting whales, dolphins or manta rays."
He laughed, saying he was yet to spot the Mary River croc. Mr Lewis has a long list of people wanting to share the experience, from children as young as 10 to 80-year-old's taking up the challenge, including Observer columnist and wildlife guru Alan Peebles.
"It's always nice to have a companion fly with me to share the enjoyment," he said.
"Recently I've flown with regular writer Alan Peebles, who wanted to check out the Aboriginal fish traps on one flight or the historic Bogimbah timber camp on another. He said the flights were one of the most enjoyable experiences of his life. It's not surprising - he's a bit addicted to it himself and flies a couple of times a week, if he gets the chance."
To see Hervey Bay from the air, phone Mr Lewis on 0488 271 936.