Follow my journey as I embark on an adventure to serve as a pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship. I am currently based in Mareeba, QLD, Australia.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

A reminder to keep going

The instructor's rating has been taking a toll recently... thankfully the end is nearly in sight!

A week or so ago I went for a walk to pray about how difficult I was finding everything. God reminded me of various things He had taught me through my ministry partnership period. At the time I wrote them down in my journal.

When I got back from the walk, I hunted through the journals and collated these five things on a single piece of paper, which is now on my fridge as a daily reminder.

Perhaps they will encourage you, as they have encouraged me!

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Lake Barrine

On Sunday afternoons - weather permitting - I've been trying out a few new walks in the local area. Recently I visited Lake Barrine. This is a freshwater lake fed by rainwater, about 5 km in circumference.

Kauri pines (I resisted the urge to laugh at people who were reading the sign and pronouncing it 'caw-ree' instead of 'cow-ree')

Pretty boardwalk section of the walk

Privately run teahouse at the lake

Bush turkey

Closer to home: white ibis and straw-necked ibis (known in some parts of Australia as 'bin chickens')

Friday, 28 June 2019

Another visitor

This little guy (or girl) somehow got into the house last night by climbing up through the toilet.
Apparently it's a common thing that happens here!

You'll be relieved that he/she has since been relocated to a more suitable habitat (by the creek a bit further down the road).

Friday, 21 June 2019


There have been a few visitors come through MAF Mareeba over the last couple of weeks.

On Friday 14th we had Mark Fox and the MAF NZ board drop in, and a BBQ for all the NZ staff working in Cairns and Mareeba on the Sunday. This was the first time I had met some of them (since I haven't been to the Cairns office yet).

Last Thursday 20th was a special celebratory event for the MAF Australia & MAF NZ alumni (former staff). About 80 people came to see the facilities at Mareeba and seemed to enjoy themselves. I wasn't able to participate much as I was busy delivering a lesson and going for a flight as part of my instructor rating training, but it was encouraging to see so many people who have gone on before and paved the way for what we are doing in MAF today.

In other news this week, I scored 92% in the PIRC exam (principles of instruction).

Friday, 14 June 2019

Notification from CASA

My Australian pilot's licence has finally arrived!

Only took 3 1/2 months!

Some comments about the process, for anyone who is interested:

I applied to have my NZ CPL converted under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA). This is an agreement between the governments of Australia and New Zealand to recognise one another's professional qualifications. This means I did not need to undergo licence conversion training or sit a flight test, as pilots coming from other countries would need to do. Note that the TTMRA only applies to vocational qualifications - for pilot licences, that means CPL and above (i.e. not PPL).

If you're a NZ citizen looking at transferring your pilot's licence to Australia:
CASA outlines the application process here - scroll to 'New Zealand licence holders (TTMRA)'. Section 13 in the Flight Crew Licensing Manual also has some useful information. To cut to the chase, here is a step-by-step list of what you will need in order to apply for various things. I've also included the process for applying for an Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC) which you will most likely also need. Extra notes for items marked with * follow below.

A. Apply for ARN (took 2-3 days)
- Get copies of your birth certificate and passport certified by a JP
- Apply online

B. Apply to CAA (can take up to 10 days, but I suspect is normally 2-3)
- Ensure your ratings and NZ medical certificate are current*
- Ensure all privileges you wish to use, and English language proficiency, are written on your NZ licence. Otherwise apply for a licence amendment first
- Complete CAA form 602 and send it to CAA (NZ)*

C. Apply to CASA (pre-requisites: A, B)
- You will need copies of your NZ licence (both sides), medical certificate (both sides), logbook pages showing flight tests, most recent renewals, type rating page, and last three pages
- Complete the statutory declaration* (see below for an example of what to include)
- Obtain two passport photos (another two also needed for ASIC, see F below)
- Fill out CASA form 61-9PIC
- Fill out CASA form 760 *
- Have the copied documents, statutory declaration and CASA form 61-9PIC (with photos) certified by an appropriate person*
- Send everything to CASA - note that the photos must be posted. Form 760 and attachments can be scanned and emailed.

D. Apply for MoJ report (takes 20 working days)
- Scan a copy of your passport or driver's licence (doesn't need to be certified)
- Apply online and ask for the report to be emailed to you

E. Australian documents
You will need one of these to apply for the ASIC, and can only apply for them once you are in Australia.

1. Medicare card
- Need two documents proving you are moving to Australia*
- Apply for a Medicare card on arrival in Australia at a Medicare or Centrelink services centre

2. Driver's licence (check the requirements for the state you are in)
For Queensland:
- Take passport, NZ driver's licence, Medicare card, Australian bank card, proof of address (rental agreement, bank statement, utility bill etc.) to a Department of Transport and Main Roads office*

F. Apply for ASIC (takes 4-6 weeks. Pre-requisites: A, D, E)
- For NZ citizens: after you arrive in Australia, request a copy of your visa details. You will need to upload a scanned copy of your passport (doesn't need to be certified)
- For others: you will need a copy of your Australian visa
- Get copies of your passport, Medicare card or Australian driver's licence, proof of address (e.g. rental agreement, bank statement, utility bill). Copies do not need to be certified
- Obtain two passport photos, letter from your employer in Australia
- Fill out the online form
- Print out the form, sign it, and mail it with all the supporting documents (including your MoJ report) and photos, to Aviation ID Australia

Extra notes

B. Applying to CAA

The ratings that you want carried over need to be current, i.e. renewals not expired (instrument rating, instructor rating etc.). If they are not current, they won't be transferred and you'll need to sit all the theory exams again and do a flight test in Australia to get them added on to your licence. If they are current, you'll still have to do a proficiency check in Australia before you can use them, but that's all.

Under 'Verification details' on CAA form 602, indicate that you want the report emailed to CLARC (CASA Licensing And Registration Centre),

C. Applying to CASA
I couldn't find any information online regarding what to write in the statutory declaration. So I sent a polite email to CASA asking for help, and they sent me an example document. Based on that, here's what I wrote:
"The statements and information in my application dated XX/2/2019 are true and correct and the copies annexed to the application are complete and accurate. These annexures are as follows:
a) A complete and accurate copy of my Commercial Pilot Licence (Aeroplane) No. XXX58 issued to me on XX Sep 20XX by CAA NZ (marked 'A');
b) A complete and accurate copy of my CAA NZ Class 1 Medical Certificate (marked 'B');
c) A complete and accurate copy of a page from my New Zealand Pilot Log Book showing proof of my aircraft type endorsements (marked 'C');
d) A complete and accurate copy of a page from my New Zealand Pilot Log Book showing proof of successful Commercial Pilot Licence flight test (marked 'D');
e) A complete and accurate copy of a page from my New Zealand Pilot Log Book showing proof of my current single engine command instrument rating (marked 'E');
f) Complete and accurate copies of the last three full pages from my New Zealand Pilot Log Book (marked 'F')."

Supporting documents referred to which might be unclear from the descriptions above are (c) the type rating page and (e) last instrument rating renewal. Obviously, adapt the items to your own situation.

Note that certification of documents and witnessing the statutory declaration can only be done in New Zealand by a Notary Public or someone licensed to practise law/medicine in Australia. A NZ JP will not suffice. A list of Notary Publics can be found here. If you are in Australia, there are many more options - see the list supplied with Form 760.

Payment to CASA can be made online here.

E. Australian documents
I applied for a bank account online before I left NZ. All of the 'big four' (ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac) and some of the smaller banks offer this service. Proof of opening a bank account in Australia and a document showing you have left NZ e.g. copy of resignation letter, cancelling health insurance policy, termination of rental agreement, sale of property etc. is enough to apply for a Medicare card. Therefore I was able to apply for Medicare the day I arrived in Australia. The card itself took about a week to arrive in the post.

I've been told by others that a driver's licence as a form of ID is very useful, so even though you are allowed to drive for up to a year on your NZ driver's licence, it pays to apply for it sooner rather than later.

There are many other identity documents you could use to apply for a driver's licence in Queensland; the ones I have listed were the easiest for me to produce or obtain.

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A caveat: the above was my personal experience in early 2019. Your personal situation may be different from mine. The supporting documents listed above are what I used (being what I already had or the easiest for me to obtain), but for some of the applications there are others which would be equally acceptable, which is why I have provided as many of the relevant links as possible.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Observations after two months

I've now been in Mareeba for two months and am feeling reasonably at home. It helps that the MAF community has welcomed me with open arms!

Here are some of the differences I'm slowly getting used to:

1. Petrol is $1.50 a litre. No trouble getting used to that!

2. Wildlife - everywhere. I've posted previously about seeing geckos, skinks, butterflies, moths, and snakes while out in the bush, but even around the neighbourhood you'll see all kinds of animals and birds. On Tuesday night last week I saw a possum and an enormous cockroach (10 cm) at tennis, then when I got home I surprised a kangaroo that had made its way onto my lawn.

3. The weather. It's starting to get cooler now. I am no longer able to sleep with just a top sheet. Who knows - I may need those jeans I packed after all!

4. No traffic lights. The closest set is at Kuranda, about 20 minutes' drive towards Cairns.

5. People doing everything earlier. Such as getting up at or before 6:00 am and going to bed before 10:00 pm. The MAF work day starts with devotions at 7:30 am and finishes around 4:00 pm. Because Mareeba is located in the tropics, it means that the times of sunrise and sunset do not vary hugely throughout the year. This also means that daylight saving is unnecessary.

6. Flooring in houses being tiled throughout. I thought I would find this hard to accept, especially in the bedrooms, but it's only what you get used to. Given how warm it is, there isn't really any great shock in getting up in the morning and putting your feet on tiles. Plus they are easy to clean.

7. Distances between places. People think nothing of driving 2 or 3 hours to get somewhere. I found this when I was living in California - it's all relative! Consider our recent trip to Arnhem Land, where we flew from Mareeba to Gove over two days: a distance of 1600 km each way. To put that in perspective, it's about 100 km further than the length of both the North and South Islands combined.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Arnhem Land safari (2)

I had the weekend in Nhulunbuy: went for a walk on Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day studying for my instructor's rating, then on Sunday tagged along with my host person for church and visiting some Yolngu families whom she knew. More study on Monday and Tuesday, along with a training flight of my own (learning how to fly the aeroplane from the right-hand seat). The students really enjoyed their time with their MAF host families out in the different outstations.

Then on Wednesday it was time to start the long, long journey home!

Old MAF hangar at Gove airport - now used as storage, while the offices are used for MAF passenger services

New MAF hangar at Gove airport - used for maintenance

Stopping at Gan Gan airstrip on our way back

Airstrip and community at Balma, Arnhem Land

Overtaking one of the other students

Refuelling at Burketown, our overnight stop

The crew back at Mareeba - me, Dave, Marcus, Tali and Keith