Country to Coast Journal newspaper

TWENTY-eight-year-old single mum, Gina Bromiley is an ambitious young woman with an unyielding determination and a long-term goal to become a commercial pilot. She has come up the ranks bit by bit using every resource available to her, while working hard to support herself, her daughter and her flying.

In a short space of time, Gina has gained a recreational pilot’s licence, a private pilot’s licence and recently completed a tail-wheel endorsement to fly her father’s medium to high performance aerobatic aircraft. She has now made plans to get an aerobatic licence while working through her commercial theory, and hopes her next step will be her commercial licence.

In a lively broad English accent, Gina said she has always wanted a commercial licence but didn’t set it as a direct goal. “I’ve had to do it step by step and achieve one goal before I could move onto the next one, and I have to work hard at it. If I look too far ahead, everything just gets fuzzy, you know and I can’t see it.”

Now with a tail wheel endorsement she is flying her father’s Vans RV7 that he built himself about four years ago. “She’s a very twitchy plane so I’ve had to circuit bash,” she said. “My instructor told me to go around and around and around the circuit and get it right.

“My next goal is an aerobatic licence and that’s just for me. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m ready. I don’t know if my bank balance is, but I can’t wait. I’ve also done two commercial theory exams and I’ve got another five to do before going for my commercial licence.”

A recent highlight in Gina’s aviation endeavour was flying the RV7 solo from Tooradin Airport to Flinders Island. Although she had flown there solo a few times before, it was the first time she had flown any distance in the fast tail-wheel aircraft.

“The weather wasn’t good and someone text me to say there were about 14 people waving me off,” she said. “My dad was there as well and I was nervous. Before I climbed into the aeroplane, people were saying all kinds of stuff to me and there were comments like ‘why are you going?’ and ‘I wouldn’t go Gina’ and ‘I wouldn’t fly across Bass Strait in this weather,’ but I was prepared and I knew I could do it.

“I tried not to be nervous for my Dad because I didn’t want to make him nervous. I just focused on what he’d told me. He said just go, and have a look when you get up there, so I took off and flew over Phillip Island. I had a good look around and then I text my Dad. I said the weather’s fine, I’m going and I went. I text him again when I flew over Wilson’s Promontory, again when I flew over Hogan Island and again when I flew over Deal Island and he tracked me to make sure I was ok. I text him again when I got to Flinders Island and it was windy. It was 35 knots so I crabbed the plane into the wind to land, and when I got out of the aircraft I felt fantastic.”

When Gina returned from Flinders Island, she said apart from being a bit cloudy, the weather was good and she flew back with her boyfriend as a passenger, who is also a pilot. “Because I had another person in the plane with me, I wasn’t as nervous. I had someone to confirm things with.”

Gina grew up in North-West Lancashire in England and said aviation wasn’t a big part of her childhood. Her father gained his private pilot’s licence in Blackpool in England, but she didn’t fly with him. When she was eight-years-old, he left England to work and live in New Zealand and later in Australia and Gina and her younger sister visited him twice a year. When she was 16, she said she wanted to live with her Father, so he filled out all the forms and her mother transferred the custody.

When she came to Australia, she lived at Nyora where she completed her schooling while working part-time and her father introduced her to flying. She said that recreational flying wasn’t around then so she started in general aviation at Tooradin Airport and gained a restricted licence. “My Dad paid for it while I was still at school and I enjoyed it, but I probably wasn’t as passionate about it then as I am now.

At 19, Gina’s future aviation career was interrupted when she went back to her mother in England because she was pregnant. She stayed for seven years but said she always wanted to come back, so she worked hard and bought a house that her sister now lives in. “My dad said ‘rent your house out, give your sister your car and you can come back and live with me for 12 months. I’ll give you a car and you just get yourself a job’, so in February 2009, I brought my daughter Lauren with me and left all my family and friends behind in England.”

After the seven-year break, Gina started learning to fly all over again but this time with recreational flying and she progressed very quickly. She said 15 months ago she couldn’t fly an aircraft. Since then she has flown Jabirus, a Texan, a Cessna 152, a Tomahawk, a Cirrus and the RV7. “I have pushed it because I knew that if I took my time I’d lose it and I’m not a fast learner. I click eventually but it’s hard, and I find the theory hard.”

Gina now lives in Tooradin with eight-year-old Lauren who goes to school there and they both enjoy flying from Tooradin Airport. “Lauren loves flying,” Gina said. “She comes to the airport with me and whenever I taxi the plane over to the bowser to fill it with fuel she’s in it, and I always try to take her wherever she wants to go.”

To pay for everything, Gina has had many jobs doing several at the same time, however she is now working full-time as assistant manager at Wings and Fins Seafood Restaurant at Tooradin Airport and working part-time on Flinders Island to help with fishing charters.

By Wendy Morriss 

Copyright © 2012 Wendy Morriss: Freelance Journalist. All Rights Reserved.