By Lacee-Ann Froeschl
Ordinary travel experiences don’t usually stray too far from the typical sightseeing, clammy bus rides, walking around Uluru, or flying from Brisbane to New York. And, they’re rarely associated with flying solo around Australia let alone at 16 years of age.
But, that’s exactly what this Sunshine Coast adventure-seeking soul is gearing up to do. For Liam Morey, the sky is literally the limit.
Last year, at 15 years and five weeks, Liam was named the youngest person in Australia to proudly hold a recreational pilot’s certificate. Inspired by this, he came up with a crazy idea. In September of this year, Liam will be waved off on his journey to attempt to break an extraordinary Guinness World Record and become the youngest person to circumnavigate Australia solo.
The three-and-a-half-week Guinness World Record mission, currently held by Oliver O’Halloran (who completed the trip at 17 years and nine months) will see Liam experience the best Australia has to offer from anywhere between 6000ft to 10,000ft.
Other than flight simulation and plane spotting, flying hasn’t always been a passion for the 16-year-old – and the way he came to do his first flight was surprising.
“As cliché as it sounds, I saw an ad on a website for real-life flight training,” Liam says. “I never really thought about it before… until I saw that ad and thought, ‘hmm, I could actually get up and do it if I wanted to’.”
Since then, he has never looked back.
Liam’s flight mentor and appointed Team Around Oz team leader Ivan Tyson says the teenager’s goal to break the Guinness World Record didn’t come as too much of a surprise, and he will back him the entire way.
“It was one day Liam came up to me and said, ‘I want to fly around Australia’,” Ivan says. “It was all his idea. It’s going to be full of challenges, absolutely full of challenges… But he’ll be great.”
In a Facebook update on their Teen Around Oz page, Ivan expressed the team’s exhilaration for snapping up a dream plane.
“One of the first and most critical elements of this plan was to secure a suitable aircraft. Brett Anderson has offered his fantastic Bristell aircraft for the trip. We couldn’t be happier as this aircraft ticks all of the boxes from not only our ‘Must Have’ list but also our ‘Would Be Nice to Have’ List.”
Liam’s grand debut into long distance flying has given him a lot to prepare for. The young teen and his Team Around Oz crew are in the final stages of planning the legalities and logistics, including getting his endorsement to be allowed to fly outside of the aerodrome.
Even though the adventurous teen is too young to hold an open driver’s permit, and has only ever flown short distances, he isn’t holding back his excitement to fly the Bristell 1131.
“It’s the feeling of being up there and being able to do whatever you want to do,” Liam says. “… It’s just the fact that you’re up there and there’s nothing that’s stopping you. It’s that ultimate freedom that not many people get to enjoy.”
Harnessing all the essential preparations for a journey like this doesn’t come as easy as planning a relaxing holiday flight. Liam plans to start at home on the Sunshine Coast, flying northbound over Cairns, Darwin, across Western Australia, Tasmania then back home to Queensland in a light support aircraft that only weighs 600kg in total. Once the fatigue management, refuelling and accommodation are planned, Liam will be good to go.
“We’re really focusing on supporting local economies on this trip,” he says. “A lot of the places I will be going to are quite small… I’ll be helping out the mum and dad dining places.”
One may question how this youngster balances his sideline activity of taking to the skies with the normal duties of a secondary school student at Siena Catholic College. While Liam studies on weekdays and relishes planning practice routes and navigation at the Sunshine Coast Aero Club over the weekend, his family support is as ambitious as he is.
“My dad is pretty much fully on board at this point, but my mum is being a classic mum and being excellently sceptic,” he says. “But it’s always good to have an outsider’s perspective… to tell me when things don’t look right.”
Not only is Liam’s journey an extraordinary one, his flying experiences have already shown just how different airborne transport is to mainstream, land-based travelling. Even though Liam has no intention of becoming a commercial pilot, flying is his favourite mode of transport, contrary to most people on the Sunshine Coast who prefer travelling by car.
“I love the argument that aircrafts don’t take you places whereas cars do, because in Australia, there’s always an airport within half an hour of where you go,” he says. “The first time I flew a plane I was scared crapless. The adrenaline kept me up the night before. But, I just kept thinking to myself, ‘there’s really no magic to it, as long as you know what to do’.”
Until September comes and the next attempt at a Guinness World Record begins, Liam’s confidence in his support network stands like a concrete pillar and his eyes are still set on a success that even most adults don’t have the stamina to pursue.
“I know I’ve got an excellent team behind me,” he says. “From a logistics point of view, I think we’re going to be really good at making sure it can be done. Now, it’s just a matter of whether I can get myself to a standard where I can every day go out to fly for eight or nine hours a day.”
Liam’s plans do not stop there. Although he only dreams of flying overseas for pleasure, he also aspires to chase aerobatics once he returns.
“It’s just probably the best hobby in the world,” he says.
Exhaustion will never have the upper hand in his plane of thought. Liam has taken travel to a whole new level.