Flying high at 95 - Blog | Keyton

Flying high at 95

Retirement village resident Jacqueline returns to the skies to pilot a small plane over Rottnest Island just days before her 95th birthday.

It was a beautiful, clear winter day when Jacqueline piloted a small aircraft over Rottnest Island, days before her 95th birthday. Accompanied by an instructor, Jacqueline flew the plane from Jandakot Airport to Rottnest Island, showcasing skills we can only dream of mastering.

A former member of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association (AWPA), Jacqueline hadn’t piloted an aircraft for more than 2 decades. Then she met Greg, the son of a fellow resident at Parkland Villas Woodlands. When Greg heard of Jacqueline’s experience as a pilot, he suggested his son, Tom, a flight instructor, could take her flying for her upcoming birthday. 

Never one to pass up an opportunity for adventure, Jacqueline agreed. Rather than being a passenger, she joined Tom as a co-pilot for the journey. ‘I took the controls right from the beginning,’ she smiled. 

A life of aeronautical adventures

Jacqueline’s adventurous life started near Broome at her parent’s station, Dampier Downs. She began flying at 19 and was featured in the Perth-based newspaper of the time, The Western Mail. 

‘I flew from the age of 19 until I was 70,’ said Jacqueline.  

After a break from the sky to raise her 5 children, Jacqueline rekindled her love of flying and joined her local aero club in the late 1950s.  ‘I met a lady who was a part of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association, and she suggested I fly with them. So that’s how I started flying again,’ Jacqueline explained.

As part of the club, she flew a range of light aircrafts and enjoyed many adventures around Australia, including trips to Tasmania and Queensland. One memorable moment came when Jacqueline landed to refuel on the way to an AWPA conference in Tasmania with 3 other pilots.

‘I flew from Jandakot to the Nullarbor and landed on a rocky dirt track,’ she laughed. ‘It was exciting!’

Jaqueline travelled extensively as a member of AWPA, enjoying the social and competitive elements of the club.  She completed various air trials and won competitions for several landing manoeuvres.

Not happy to limit herself to one style of aircraft, Jacqueline also learnt to pilot float planes and helicopters over the years.   

Meeting new friends at Parkland Villas WoodlandsJacqueline sits in her apartment at Parkland Villas Woodlands. She wears a blue top with a floral print and holds the cover of The Western Mail featuring her as a 19-year-old pilot.

Jacqueline shows the cover of The Western Mail featuring her as a 19-year-old pilot.

In 2019, Jacqueline decided to downsize and move to Parkland Villas Woodlands. Here she enjoys a comfortable retirement lifestyle. 

Jacqueline loves her one-bedroom apartment close to a range of amenities and services, both inside and outside the village. Her homely space includes 2 balconies, where she keeps thriving potted plants and enjoys views over the village and gum trees. 

‘I love my unit. I look out and see the trees. It’s very nice.’

One of the many benefits of village life is meeting new friends and living in a caring community of like-minded people. Jacqueline has become close to a group of neighbours, and they meet regularly for various activities. 

‘There’s 4 of us who meet and have a cuppa,’ she said. ‘It’s good to have regular contact with one another.’

Learn more about Parkland Villas Woodlands, WA

For more information about the lifestyle and support offered at our retirement villages, call our customer service team on 1800 550 550.

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