A big future in aviation
CHAHAYA Gauci's first encounter with the blue skies is a memory that will stay with the Year 11 Bishop Druitt College student for the rest of his life.
That was more than five years ago, when his mother got him a joy flight for his 11th birthday.
But even before that first flight in a Cessna 152, Chahaya was always fascinated with flying.
Which is why in 2002 he joined Aviation Futures and started flying as often as he could by earning money doing a paper run six days a week and refereeing soccer on weekends ? sometimes for up to nine hours.
"Yeah, Saturdays could get pretty hectic. I'd get up at 6am, do the paper run, go flying at 7am and then rush off to referee four games of soccer and somehow pick myself up to play my own game," he said.
"Sometimes I'd even ref on the Sunday as well."
For a couple of years he flew with instructor Neil Taylor trying to go up every month or so in Aviation Futures' Cessna 152 ? India Victor Victor.
Slowly his log book was filling up.
"One of the hardest things was that because I was paying for it out of my own pocket as well as time limitations, I could only fly infrequently on weekends and as such would slip backwards in what I had learnt, wasting future flying time on revision," he said.
When Aviation Futures went through a few hard times, he started to fly another Cessna at the Coffs Harbour Aero Club until finally his instructor started him on a Piper Warrior PA28 at Private Pilot Training.
This meant he was now on a slightly different control configuration, two extra seats and a few other small differences when it came to the operation of the new machine.
Soon after moving to the Warrior, his training was taken over by senior instructor David Sercombe.
As soon as he turned 16 Chahaya had his application in for his Student Pilot License, which allowed him to go solo when signed off by his instructor.
He soon hopes to get his Private Pilot License, but before he can do that he has to complete a 10-week theory component, which he recently started.
"I just can't wait until I'm able to get a plane and say to a few friends 'lets go for a joy flight' ?- it's going to be the biggest thrill." he said.
"You know what one of the weirdest things is?
"I can fly a plane by myself and yet I can't drive myself to the airport without someone else in the car."