How do you get to the east coast from Armidale in record time? You talk to Edwards Aviation, that’s how! The New England Focus team and friends WERE special guests on board a Cessna Conquest C441 for a very fast trip to the Port Macquarie Races on Friday 8 October. Senior Pilot Michael Waggitt explains how jet setting is available to everyone.
Tell us a bit about how you became a pilot.
I actually learned to fly at the flying school here in Armidale, while I was at the University of New England.
On my days off from uni and on the weekends, I’d come out to the flying school. It took a couple of years, but I finally got my licence.
What’s the best thing about being a pilot?
I enjoy the travel – being able to go somewhere different every day and travelling all around Australia and our region.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
I’ve had some great trips. For work, I’ve had to spend some nights on Lizard Island up near Cairns. I’ve been up to Lord Howe Island, Ayers Rock a few times and all the touristy sights. And I get paid to go there!
Do you have a favourite destination to travel to?
I grew up and went to school in Darwin, so I like the weather – as opposed to the Armidale cold!
There’s plenty to do in Cairns: lots of good food, lots of activities. I think it’s a great relaxed, kick-back city to go and have a few beers after work!
What planes are in the Edwards fleet?
We have a Cessna Citation CJ Jet, with seating for up to 5 passengers in comfort. Perfect for short, medium and long range trips.
We also have the larger Cessna Citation CJ2 Jet, which offers seating for up to 6 passengers in absolute luxury.
The CJ2 can climb to 45,000 feet (13,716 m) in just 28 minutes, meaning you can take advantage of favourable winds and a maximum cruise speed of 774 km/h, helping you to reach your destination that much sooner.
Both jets incorporate all of the safety equipment that the big airliners have on board.
The traffic awareness and warning systems are all state of the art. They are exceptionally fuel efficient.
They have the capacity to deliver clients to their destination quickly and safely by flying above the weather, offering a nice smooth ride.
Also as part of our fleet we have a Beechcraft Baron, a Piper Chieftan and our newest arrival, an eight seater turbo prop Cessna Conquest C441 – a plane almost as quick as the jets, but more economical.
All trips on our planes include complimentary beverages and catering, tea and coffee.
Who uses your aircraft?
Oh, anyone and everyone! Confidentiality prevents us naming names, but we carry politicians, sightseers, movie stars, celebrities, organ retrievals, and of late we have seen a real surge in business travellers and group parties.
One group you took recently was the Focus team from Armidale …
We recently took the Focus team on a flight to the Port Macquarie Cup (pictured left) to show them just how easy it is to get to an event!
The flight took only twenty two minutes. They tell me that the race day was unreal and the best part was the little travelling time it took to get from Armidale to Port Macquarie.
The quick flight meant that they were able to spend more leisure time at their destination.
What type of trips do you recommend to our readers?
We’re putting together some great boutique tours – a night at the opera, a day at the races, shopping on Melbourne’s High Street, a Melbourne Cup package, a day at the Hunter Valley gardens and wineries, and a girls’ shopping day in Sydney with High Tea at the Hyatt.
These are all great experiences. They are also ideal gifts for the ‘hard to buy for’, for those big birthdays or special anniversaries.
It could be one of those ‘bucket list’ things you want to do. We recently had two seats purchased from us for a raffle ticket prize.
Edwards Aviation Australia is also the only private jet charter service with the ability to fly directly into Lizard Island, off Queenland’s Great Barrier Reef, and Lord Howe Island, off the coast of New South Wales.
The size of our jets allows us to fly into these, and many other, small and out-of-the-way airports, where you can escape the everyday and enjoy the peace and quiet of your chosen resort destination.
Island resort airports we also fly into include Lizard Island, Hamilton Island – Great Barrier Reef Airport, Proserpine – Whitsunday Coast Airport, Brampton Island, Lindeman Island, Airlie Beach – Whitsunday Airport and Laguna Whitsundays.
If your destination is not included above, or within our regional centres listing, please contact us and we will confirm our ability to reach that destination for you.
Isn’t it expensive?
It’s relative. You can travel five star on an hour’s notice, and your times are flexible. Time is so valuable today, and family time is precious.
With our curfew-free status, what used to be an overnight stay can be turned into a day trip. This allows savings on accommodation, meals and staffing.
There’s no check-in hassle, with our own private airport facilities and less ‘down time’ away from work. We are finding this especially valuable for groups attending trade fairs and industry conferences.
Commercial airlines’ Armidale to Sydney route is still expensive and time restrictive. Brisbane is via Tamworth, and Melbourne is an interchange nightmare. Our travel time to Melbourne is about two hours straight through.
Dare we ask – how safe are these smaller planes?
The danger with private jet travel is that once you experience it, you will never be satisfied flying commercial again.
Seriously though, I have been flying for a while now, and Edwards Aviation has one of the safest and most well maintained aircraft fleets flying in Australia today.
Brad Edwards personally recruits all of his fellow pilots, and our blemish-free record is testament alone of our CASA authorised safety.
How can people find out more about Edwards Aviation?
Ring Brad Edwards personally for enquiries on 1800 747 800: if he is airborne, he will return your call on touchdown.
Call our office on 6772 3116 or visit our website at: www.edwardsaviation.com.au
We look forward to flying with you!
Thank you Michael.