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(Written by Katherine Williams, photographs taken by Katherine Williams & Hans Cools)

Nick Hitchins was happily living in his native country of New Zealand, with his lovely wife and three sons, running his own Film and Television Company when God intervened in his life; Nick had become extremely stressed out and was told by his doctors to make a lifestyle change or they feared for his future health. Nick and wife Ruth chatted about this sitting at a local beach and Ruth asked Nick “What would you do if you could do anything in the world?” Nick replied instantly that he would become a Pilot for MAF. Nick’s dream from the age of 19, when he had started flying was to become a Pilot, but he had been told that that was impossible as he was too short sighted, so he had let go of that dream.

“But now 27 years later, God was resurrecting my dream” explains Nick. “Within six weeks of that conversation with Ruth, we were on our way for me to complete my Pilot studies in Mareeba.”

Nick has now been studying in Mareeba for the last 3 months and feels that the Flight Training Centre (FTC) atmosphere is very supportive. He explains that he has studied at other flight training schools, but is impressed that the FTC are well organised and have their materials really well set out. “There is an excellent student to instructor ratio, meaning that you are always well supported, particularly in areas of difficult theory where it is very useful to talk through concepts.” Nick is now at the point in his training where he has completed the bulk of his exams and very much looks forward to a more practical time of flying, commencing with night flying.

When asking Nick why he felt Whiskey Mike Charlie (WMC) was a good fit for night flying. His response was that “it is well equipped with standard MAF avionics. It has an ASPEN glass cockpit and basic Autopilot, which means it provides additional pilot support, assisting with the extra workload involved in night flying. It has a fuel injected engine, which means it is not susceptible to Carburettor icing (water freezing on the inside). This can be a particular problem if humid and cool, which can often be the case in Mareeba. It is a really nice newer plane to fly and an ideal stepping stone when transitioning from the 172 to the 182, especially given many of the systems used are the same as those found in much larger MAF aircraft. It is an ideal intermediate step.”

Nick concludes that from this experience he has definitely learned “that everything is in God’s time and that nothing is impossible. It is never too late to pursue your dream!”



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