It’s not every day you can experience zero gravity, but Mark Benton is bringing the practice to the masses.
(min cost $8)
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Mr Benton has been operating Warrior Warbirds from the Dubbo City Regional Airport for the past month.
Flying in a Nanchang, passengers are able to see Dubbo from the air, with loops, barrel rolls and stall turns for the more adventurous.
“I’ve noticed a lot of people find flying over the Macquarie River a highlight, especially down lower because it’s a perspective they don’t normally get to see. And we can actually fly wherever we want, follow the twists and turns of the river,” Mr Benton said.
There was a freedom during the adventure flight that didn’t happen with a commercial trip, he said.
Obviously, the aerobatics were another highlight, Mr Benton said, especially the reactions of those experiencing the tricks for the first time.
The pilot flew solo for the first time when he was 16. In 2002, Mr Benton said he began working for a commercial airline.
After hearing stories from colleagues about flying similar aircraft to the Nanchang, Mr Benton said he became interested. A few test flights later he had fallen in love.
The plane used at Warrior Warbirds was built in China in 1966. It was used as a military training aircraft for fighter pilots.
“It served for 30 years with the Chinese airforce and then came to Australia and was restored and rebuilt and it’s been doing adventure flights ever since. Now it’s in Dubbo,” Mr Benton said.
The plane required regular maintenance, including washing, which Mr Benton said was similar to wash three or four cars at once.
Flying in the Nanchang was a window into the old world of aviation, the pilot said.
“It used to be commonplace to have aircraft like this that smelt and sound like this but now it’s a rarity. Being able to do adventure flights in a Warbird really brings something that’s normally the domain of a privileged few, it brings it to everybody,” Mr Benton said.
“It’s very different and unique and one of those things that you should try.”
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