The school was originally started in 1997 at Wyalkatchem for hang glider pilot training, soon adding powered hang-glider training to their repertoire. These aircraft are variously called ‘trikes’, ‘weight-shift’ or ‘microlights’ in Australia. The school moved to White Gum Farm (YWGM) in 2005, where they initially operated from a farm shed/hangar for a while. In 2006 the second hangar – H2 – was built and now hangars H3, H4 and H5 house a variety of trikes and 3-axis aircraft.
SkySports CFI at White Gum is Gordon Marshall, a very experienced trike and 3-axis instructor, although he says nowadays he seems to spend most of his time instructing in the Foxbat! In addition to Gordon, there are several (mainly) part-time instructors.
White Gum hosted the first ‘WestFly‘ event several years ago – the weather was fantastic and there was a great turnout of aircraft. However, the weather turned bad for the last couple of events and fly-in arrivals were very limited, so Gordon has decided to ‘rest’ WestFly for a short while. However, he’s planning a big event next year (2016) when the nearby ‘Fly Inn’ function centre opens.
The facilities at White Gum will continue to grow as its reputation spreads – the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, on-site accommodation and selection of runways has begun to attract visitors and flying students from far and wide. Best times to fly are probably spring and autumn – summers can get very hot!
An interesting side-point: White Gum Farm, including the airstrips, is owned by Gary Sargeant, an accomplished radio/avionics engineer, who is also a trike pilot. Driven by the relatively high cockpit noise in trikes, Gary designed a new wireless, active noise reduction (ANR) headset for radio (and intercom) communications in noisy environments. This was developed, tested (mainly by Gordon) and re-designed over several years. The result is the EQ-1 ANR wireless headset which can be used both in open and closed cockpit aircraft. I have used both the original version of the EQ-1 headset as well as the latest EQ-link in Foxbats and I must say they are one of the most comfortable headsets I have worn. My wife and I joined a group if fliers who did a 10-day round trip from Melbourne to Lake Eyre a couple of years ago, using the EQ headsets. They performed faultlessly and over 21 hours of flying, did not need re-charging, although we had less than an hour’s battery left when we got home. The ANR function works well and the lack of a wire connection with the aircraft makes them very convenient.
EQ now has a Facebook page: click here to visit