Teach to fly but not drive
New microlight instructor Ross Brodie, New Zealand’s youngest, flies Rans S-6ES Coyote ZK-YAJ over the Rangitata River.
The youngest microlight instructor in New Zealand is Ross Brodie, who was confirmed in this position on Monday 11 July. Ross is the son of well-known aviation industry leader Russell Brodie of Rangitata, South Canterbury, and is the fourth generation of flying Brodies on the farm. His great-grandfather, also Ross Brodie, flew in France during WWI.
A keen aviator from the start, in January Ross clocked up another first in New Zealand aviation history, flying 16 different aeroplanes solo on his 16th birthday, the minimum age a student is allowed to go solo. This is believed also to be a world first.
Brought up in a family that combines farming with serious aviation, Ross began to learn to fly with his father from the age of nine and became an accomplished pilot under that direction. He was naturally delighted to reach the legal age of 16 to finally fly solo and celebrated the occasion in a manner like no other.
With his new status as an instructor, Ross is legally permitted to instruct students to fly microlight aircraft and he does so in a family-owned RANS S6. The only restriction he faces is that his pupils must be evaluated by a senior instructor before they may fly solo.
Although he can teach people to fly, it’s a different story when it comes to driving a car—where Ross must be accompanied by a fully licensed motorist and carry L plates.
While waiting for his 16th birthday, Ross had accumulated 85 flying hours. Since then he has added another 70 which has given him the experience to take passengers and train students.
He says he has much to be grateful for with his father. “Living on an airfield and having Dad as an instructor has greatly boosted my flying career,” he says.
Russell Brodie says he is delighted with his son’s recent achievements. He saw Ross was a natural pilot from an early age and, although he encouraged him, there were no favours. Ross paid for aircraft hire and fuel at commercial rates by working around the family farm and aircraft. Russell never paid Ross pocket money and he achieved his flying goals from his own resources.
“In lieu of payment for work around the farm and aerodrome, he gets air time or flying hours which has helped get him to where he is now.”
New Zealand’s aviation laws are unique in allowing a 16-year-old to progress to instructor level in the microlight category, and Ross really appreciates this. While he will carry on instructing students to qualify as pilots in microlights, he has his eyes fixed on a step up to instructing in general aviation when he reaches the legal age of 18 years for a CPL.
- Report by John King, photography by East Canterbury Aviation.
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