Mick Farrell takes a trip down memory lane

Taking a trip down memory lane, former hang gliding pilot Mick Farrell of Boorowa NSW tells how he first fell in love with flight after seeing a group of men jumping off sand hills in Kurnell on the outskirts of Sdney and then taking to the skies in a hang glider. Watching the hang glider soar skyward, chasing the thermals with wedge-tailed eagles seemed like a surreal experience he wanted to be part of.

The sport and the aircraft were very different back in those days. Mick recalls that it wasn’t long after witnessing the hang gliders taking flight and being influenced by Fred Fahey, that he went to Canberra and bought a brand new Seagull 3 for $375. It came equipped with a harness and an instruction book, that was it.

“After little success trying to teach myself to fly, I heard of some guys out in Young, 70km west from where I live and heard they were flying hang gliders,” said Mick.

“They showed me what to do and I started from the bottom of the hill and gradually worked my way up. It was an amazing adrenalin rush for me, like nothing else I had experienced. After a month of my lessons, I ended up at the top of the hill and had my first flight.

“I then bought a CB 200 and started gliding off the hills here in Boorowa, but my issue was that I didn’t know how to ridge soar. I almost gave the sport away and then one day ran into Guy Hubbard in Cowra, who told me about car towing. This intrigued me. So, me and my friend Rosco Williams got involved in towing for quite a few years. It was a great way to get to 1000 feet.”

“I then got started in aero tow and love that, I found it much easier than car towing.”

One of Mick’s greatest achievements in the sport was being the 6th person to have flown the Morning Glory in an unpowered hang glider back in October 2002.

“That was an amazing experience for Ross and I to experience, it was truly unbelievable,” he said.

“Some people go up there and never get to see the amazing cloud formation. We were very lucky and it was definitely a highlight in my years of flying hang gliders.”

Mick has since put down his hang gliding wings but says the memories and experiences will stay with him forever.

“I loved how you had the ability to go from A to B in the air and the challenge of finding the next thermal. I also loved the achievement, like the time you do your first long distance flight, then you set your next milestone,” he said.

“I enjoyed the flying aspect more than the competition side of it, I was always slow to goal, but enjoyed to journey to get there.

“Flying wing tip to tip with a wedge-tailed eagle is pretty amazing, it’s one of those amazing flying experiences.

“I live on the land and sometimes I look to the sky and see a wedge-tailed eagle and miss flying, but I have the memories and they are pretty good.”