Australian Flying

The Mother of all Beat-ups

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

Flying with famous pilots is not always fun–interesting is perhaps a better word. Today I want to tell you about two of them.

Barry Radley

Those who were paying attention may remember that I sailed through my initial Instructor Rating flight test–without demonstrating any ability at all.

The testing officer, Barry Radley, was so enthusiastic about flying my Tiger that I only had five minutes of stick time, and he had 40 minutes of playing aerobatics.

Ten minutes after signing me out he was able to witness the full extent of his foolishness. The ink was not yet dry on my Instructor Rating when he watched in horror, from the wooden-box control tower, as I cartwheeled my aircraft down runway 11, shedding wings, wires and struts.

He made little effort to hide his contempt as he hauled me from the wreckage. When I told him I was OK his exact words were, “I am extremely sorry to hear that.” Not quite the wholesome spirit of camaraderie that one might expect from a fellow aviator.

Anyhow, after that I moved the lowveld village of Phalaborwa, on the edge of the famous Kruger

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