In Born to Fly, Ryan recounts his remarkable journey from a boy with a dream to becoming, at age 19, the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the world solo in a single-engine aircraft, and shares with us the joy of flight.
by Ryan Campbell
The most extraordinary aviation adventure of the decade. A great story in the spirit of Charles Kingsford-Smith and Bert Hinkler. – Dick Smith
‘It’s funny what you remember, which moments stick in your mind when the everyday disappears. I will never forget my first flight, the feeling of being pushed back in the seat, the rumbling that suddenly turned into silence. It fascinated me then, it does now. I looked across Sydney, absolutely blown away by its size. I had no idea cities even got that big! Later, my brothers and I followed the stewardess to the front of the plane and stepped into the cockpit. I stood wide-eyed, mouth open. This was where magic happened. From that day on I knew: I would grow up to become a jumbo jet pilot.’
When Ryan Campbell was six he fell in love with aeroplanes. It was a passion that was to dominate his childhood and it was no surprise when at 15 Ryan became the youngest pilot in Australia. Inspired by his father and grandfather who were also aviators, Ryan sought a challenge and, like adventurers before him, he found one that spoke to him more than the rest. He wanted to fly around the world, solo, in a single-engine aircraft.
Showing maturity, determination and courage beyond his years, Ryan fundraised $250,000 from scratch and drew on the advice of renowned aviators such as Jim Hazelton (‘a man who has more hours adjusting his seat in a plane than I do total flying time’) and Dick Smith before setting out on his thrilling 70-day odyssey. In Born to Fly, Ryan captures all the dry-mouthed excitement of flying alone above the earth with only one engine and recounts his adventures from staying calm with iced over wings, landing in a country where you are not welcome and dealing with international media when still a teenager.
Ryan landed 31 times in 15 countries and covered more than 24,000 nautical miles, while trying to avoid that ‘alternative aerodrome’, the ocean.
Born to Fly is a fascinating view of the world from above, shown to us by a dryly funny and highly charismatic man who has already done more in his short life than most of us do in a lifetime.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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