A journalist’s account: flying a Warbird over Camden

Old office: Martin Walsh strapped himself into the T6 and flew high over the Oaks and Burragorang. Picture: Roma Dickins
Old office: Martin Walsh strapped himself into the T6 and flew high over the Oaks and Burragorang. Picture: Roma Dickins

As a young boy I always caught myself reflecting on my grandfather’s adventures serving Australia as a leading aircraftman in Indonesia in World War II.

While I’ve taken a different path, one local Camden company gave me the rare chance to glimpse back into the 1940’s and experience what it was like to be a fighter pilot.

Pilots and close friends David Currie and Norm Longfield established the Southern Warbird Adventures to give people the opportunity to soar through the skies in a historic vehicle – the North American T6 Texan.

“Here is the opportunity to experience aviation from a bygone era,” Mr Currie said.

“This is real flying. The sound of the engine, the feel of soaring through the sky in this aeroplane is completely unique.”

Mr Currie walked me through the safety aspects of the flight and the aerobatic maneuvers we would perform, but the experience didn’t sink in until I sat in the backseat of the prized warbird.

The T6 was the most famous fighter used to train fighter pilots of the United States Army Air Forces and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during the Second World War.

Between leaving the pavement to hopping inside the immaculate T6 named Miss Fire, I was fixated on the old world technology still in prime condition.

The cockpit

The cockpit

My eyes danced between reading the instruments including the altimeter and air speed measuring devices on the black dash in front of me.

At my feet the inner workings of the plan including landing gear and other levers coated in a vintage cockpit green were visible.

Mr Currie meticulously went through the checks of the plane and even the tightening of my harness to make sure I felt safe in his hands.

After strapping into the harness and setting up the GoPro to capture the flight, the Pratt and Whitney radial engine roared as the warbird gracefully left the tarmac into the skies.

Miss Fire taking off with our journalist.

Miss Fire taking off with our journalist.

Instantly I was awestruck by the vibrant pastures around Camden as the plane headed towards Burragorang Valley.

“It’s a beautiful area to fly around and take in the views of places like Lake Burragorang,” Mr Currie said.

“We tailor flights to what you want … you do as much or as little aerobatics as you would like.”

Burragorang Valley

Burragorang Valley

I, however, wanted the full fighter pilot experience.

As soon as I gave him the thumbs up, Mr Currie led the plane elegantly through spectacular victory rolls, fast rolls, loops and wingovers.

I felt weightless as we floated upside with the view of countryside beneath us.

Before long my stomach had enough the maneuvers and Mr Currie guided us back to the land.

Mr Currie said his passengers leave the plane with smiles on their faces and I was definitely one of them.

Miss Fire and the businesses other T6 plane.

Miss Fire and the businesses other T6 plane.

While I won’t become a pilot anytime soon, the flight gave me an appreciation for the skills of pilots especially during wartime conditions.

With a second T6 waiting in the wings, I can’t wait to take to the skies again and soar in the upcoming formation flights in the future.

Any reader who mentions this article will be offered a 20% discount. Details, visit southernwarbirdadventures.com.au.