Australian Flying

Pushing the Acceptable Limits

Jim Davis has a passion for instructing. He has been training civil and military pilots, in the air and on the ground for 50 years. His other passion is writing, which he studied at Curtin University in Perth. You can see, and buy, his two pilot text books PPL and Flight Tests at

In aviation there is a fine line between a character and a cowboy.

Dirty Pottie or Colonel Fred Potgieter, to give his full specification, managed to be both. Only his exceptional stick and rudder skills saved him and his pax from an early death. That combined with a whole lot of luck.

Most of us have a grudging admiration the non-conformist, the maverick, the eccentric and the free spirit – so long as they are not at the controls of an aircraft.

Dr Maurice Kirk, who seems to have one crash for every take-off in his ragged Piper Cub, plagued the Crete to Cape Town vintage aircraft rally a couple of years ago with his uninvited participation. He demonstrated appalling airmanship in every possible way and eventually became lost in the Sudan. His compass was found to be 40 degrees out on some headings,

Anyone who flies like that is to be condemned as a cowboy and a menace to aviation. But he has been doing it for years, and somehow he survives. He is one of aviation’s true characters. And also the ultimate cowboy. Google him – you will be astonished that he has managed to live so long.

Then there is another doctor who lived in Prince Albert and drank at the flying club in Oudtshoorn. For those

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