We spoke two languages in our family – English and aviation. Spot tests on the pilot’s phonetic alphabet could come at any time.
‘W?’ Dad would ask.
‘Whiskey!’ We’d call out in response.
We had our own small plane for nine years and it never crossed my mind that flying was anything but the most natural way to get from one place to another.
Then, in 1993 while I was the ABC’s North Queensland reporter, a six-seater plane we had chartered for work was caught in a heavy storm. While rain was lashing my window, there was a sudden loss of power and the motor on the left spluttered and died. The drop in altitude hit my gut so fast my brain couldn’t understand what was happening. The engine on the right revved like mad trying to keep us airborne…