Why did I spend six years writing my life story? During numerous evenings spent chatting around campfires, in swampy jungle camps, or leaning on hotel bars in third world countries, old and newfound friends encouraged me to do so.
I grew up 1600 km (1000 miles) from `civilization,’ after being born in the Australian Inland Mission Hostel in Alice Springs, Central Australia in February, 1937. Only the fit survived – three of my brothers did not.
My parents were lay missionaries at Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission, 120 kilometres to the South West of the Alice. Conditions there were rather primitive in the 1930s with no electricity, refrigeration, very limited medical facilities or regular transport to town. Initially, supplies and mail arrived by camel.
Notwithstanding, I consider I had an ideal childhood, roaming in a 3880 sq km backyard (1500 sq miles), in-between correspondence schooling. With aboriginal playmates, I absorbed their tribal culture and language along with my parent’s German speech and traditions plus Australian outback mateship and lingo.
The taming of my wild animal instincts at a Lutheran co-ed boarding school in Adelaide, reached after a three-day steam train journey, were not without incident. With church poor parents, I had to begin working, for a pittance, at 16.
A six year apprenticeship in the motor trade, alternate weekends spent as a Private in the Citizens Air force servicing Mustang aircraft, then learning to fly in Tiger Moths, followed. Religious conflict resulted in a seriously broken heart and a return to the parental household, now located in the desert town of Alice Springs.
There, I obtained a job with the locally based outback airline, soon qualifying for maintenance licenses and being promoted. Then seeing saw a helicopter, I fell in love with those slow, noisy, ungainly looking early machines and became determined to fly them one day.
My dream could only be achieved, in 1963, by moving to Sydney and becoming licensed to maintain choppers. I eventually became a helicopter pilot in 1966. This achievement required frequent employment changes plus driving vast distances across Australia many times.
The constant work and study resulted in girlfriends being left behind or leaving while I became qualified to fly and maintain both aeroplanes and helicopters commercially. Ladies came second to my career, but perseverance gave me great scope in choosing employment, involving more travel and new friends.
After working tours (and enjoying fleeting romances) all over Australia and Papua New Guinea for some years, marriage in England and overseas postings followed in 1970. Initially to Fiji, then Borneo, followed by 10 years based in Singapore. First working as a tour pilot and then as an aviation manager overseeing helicopter crews from Saudi Arabia to Hong Kong. I have lived and worked in sixteen different countries and flown on all continents.
My autobiography begins with a childhood spent throwing spears and boomerangs. While following my dream, busy angels seemingly ‘saved’ me many times during underground mining and after becoming lost in desert and jungle treks. Quite apart from the often risky life in the sky under flapping metal blades and during one spectacular accident – illustrated in my book.
I’m told this is an inspirational life story which encompasses steely determination, worldwide tragedy and triumph, marriage, fatherhood, divorce and eventually, happy settled retirement. I now live in beautiful northern NSW, Australia, with my partner.
Unfortunately, my beginning smoking at 4yrs. old, time in 3rd world countries and previous often extreme life-path resulted in contracting several exotic tropical diseases. These flared, severely impacting my busy retirement. Fortunately, I found an answer – see www.activatesolutions.net if you wish to overcome a health challenge or just stay fit. Please mention my name when you register. Bless You.