Don loves flying anything.
He and Margie sold their Maule 180 Tri Gear, four-seater Stoll aircraft, to help fund their year living in Antarctica in 1995. He still owns a part-built ‘Kitfox classic IV’ ultralight on amphibious floats, bought in 1997. Don intended to use it in an historic flight re-enactment of the first flight around Australia. That was in 1924 by (another) McIntyre and Gobels, in a ‘Fairey’ IIID float plane.
When building ‘ICE’ in China, provision was made to carry a ‘Polaris FIB’ flying inflatable boat. Don bought one in Italy and while getting a new ultralight ‘weight shift’ licence to fly the Polaris, he saw a very impressive German gyrocopter.
Don always declared that he would never fly a gyrocopter, as too many people had been killed flying them, including Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s son. But this was very impressive German engineering and design. After a 20-minute flight he was hooked. To him this was flying in its most pure, fun form. The German manufacture and local importer were planning a flight around Australia in a few months and invited Don to join them.
10 flying hours later he had a licence, so bought his own machine. He applied the same VH flight registration numbers and decals as carried by McIntyre and Gobels in their historic flight. Another 25 hours training and they set off around Australia by the furthest east, north, west and southern most points.
It was demanding, exhilarating, fun, spectacular flying and just seven days later they were nearly half way round.
The other two gave up shortly after, so Don continued on solo and claimed the world first record on a fight that lasted 115 hours in the air, over 22 days and covering 13,000km.
During the 12 months surrounding that flight, eight people in Australia were killed flying gyrocopters.