PLASTIC PAROT: Qantas International Captain Gary Herne with his brightly painted CT-4 Military trainer, in which a generation of Australian Defence Force (ADF) pilots made a first, anxious solo flight. Picture: Cath Piltz
PLASTIC PAROT: Qantas International Captain Gary Herne with his brightly painted CT-4 Military trainer, in which a generation of Australian Defence Force (ADF) pilots made a first, anxious solo flight. Picture: Cath Piltz

Learn to fly 'plastic parrot' with international pilot

LIKE many of his fellow commercial pilots, captain Garry Herne has been temporarily stood down from his job during the coronavirus pandemic.

But he's been keeping busy in his hometown of Lismore with the help of his privately-owned Pacific Aerospace Corporation CT/4 Airtrainer.

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In association with the Northern Rivers Aero Club, Mr Herne took up the opportunity to train his family, friends and others interested in obtaining their flying licence.

"We had some requests to do some training up here and so I brought my CT-4," he said.

PLASTIC PARROT: Garry Herne with his brightly painted CT-4 basic trainer, in which a generation of Australian Defence Force (ADF) pilots made a first, anxious solo flight. Picture: Cath Piltz
PLASTIC PARROT: Garry Herne with his brightly painted CT-4 basic trainer, in which a generation of Australian Defence Force (ADF) pilots made a first, anxious solo flight. Picture: Cath Piltz

"Fact is we had them operating for about 45 years as a trainer in Australia, they're a really good training craft which is not too easy to fly but also has good aerobatic ability."

Mr Herne said the CT/4 had better performance than a regular trainer because it was a bit faster, heavier, and it also teaches aerobatics.

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"It has a powerful engine with more responsive controls," he said.

"The airframe is stressed to a higher level; it has a higher G-force loading so we can pull more Gs in it."

Mr Herne has been flying since graduating from Lismore High School, starting out flying gliders at Whiporie then learning to fly at the Casino airstrip with Nevel Bienke in a Victa Airtourer.

He joined the Australian Air Force in 1983 and has now progressed to a captain of international flights with Qantas.

The CT/4 was dubbed 'parrots' or 'plastic parrots' by the Australian Defence Force, with their fanta orange and white colour scheme.

And you should be able to spot this one flying around Lismore over the next few months.

BIRD’S EYE VIEW: Oakes Oval in Lismore from inside the two-seat CT/4 trainer. Picture: Cath Piltz
BIRD’S EYE VIEW: Oakes Oval in Lismore from inside the two-seat CT/4 trainer. Picture: Cath Piltz

"We don't know how long we'll be here; I'll be instructing … we've got some people at the moment, and that instruction could go for another couple of months, and I think eventually within a few months depending on the Qantas situation is to what, sort of will happen," Mr Herne said.

The cost for acquiring your recreational flying licence is around $12,000 and takes around 25 hours.

Mr Herne is also instructing for navigation, private and aerobatics.

Enquiries can be made at Northern Rivers Aero Club on 6621 4844.

BORN TO FLY: “I loved planes more than cars,” Gary Herne inside the cockpit of his CT-4 Trainer. Picture: Cath Piltz
BORN TO FLY: “I loved planes more than cars,” Gary Herne inside the cockpit of his CT-4 Trainer. Picture: Cath Piltz

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