Dream hobby

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BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: Anja Liemburg, with Joycie the Piper Cherokee 140, was among winners at the recent national formation flying championships.
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Anja Liemburg of Ashburton loves to fly.

It’s been a life long obsession for the 37-year-old, who recently competed at the national formation flying championships hosted in Ashburton.

‘‘It stems from when I was child, I always wanted to fly,’’ Liemburg said.

But while her childhood dream was to be a professional pilot, she was forced to have a rethink as a teenager due to suffering from motion sickness.

‘‘So I threw it all out the window,’’ she said. ‘‘I just gave up.’’

That dream always remained with her, however, and five years ago she decided to undertake study for a pilot’s licence.

‘‘I just love being up there, you are above everything, the views…it’s just something I have always loved.’’

Today she believes she has the best of both worlds, hiring a plane when she wants.

‘‘For me being able to fly is a hobby, I fly when I want to and I fly to enjoy it, not because I have to.’’

As a crane truck driver with Hilton Haulage, Liemburg’s career pays for her flying interests.

‘‘I spent the best part of 18 months to two years getting my licence, because I was working full-time line-haul driving all over the country,’’ she said.

Working with Dolan’s Transport at the time, Liemburg learned to fly with the Mid Canterbury Aero Club.

She racked up close to 100 flying hours before she got her licence, over and above the minimum of 50 hours flying time.

‘‘I took it very casually. I wasn’t in a flight school. I flew every weekend if the weather allowed.’’

At the national formation flying championships hosted in Ashburton, she won the threeship formation event along with team mates Darryn Franklin and Grant Hopewell.

At the national formation flying championships, Liemburg was flying Joycie, a Piper Cherokee 140 aeroplane owned by ‘‘the absolute legend Ian Begbie’’, of Ashburton.

GOOD FORM: Mid Canterbury Aero Club members Anja Liemburg, Darryn Franklin and Grant Hopewell fly in threeship formation during the 2024 Flying New Zealand National Championships.

Begbie was also due to fly in the formation team, but was unavailable.

‘‘He has been a mentor to me since I started flying. He is what got me into formation.

‘‘I first went up for a ride with him when I was a student (pilot) and I got the bug,’’ she said.

‘‘I was like ‘Yep, I’m going to fly formation’.’’

Joycie has a 160-horsepower motor and was ‘‘an absolute dream to fly’’.

Liemburg said formation flying involved a lot of trust among pilots.

‘‘You’ve got to trust your number two and three. I fly lead so in my mind I’ve got the easiest job.

‘‘All I have to do is fly steady and they follow me.’’

Liemburg considers herself ‘‘a fair weather flyer’’.

Her hairiest flight was when she, with experienced pilot Darryn Franklin in tow, helped a friend trapped by flooding at Rangitata. At the time the bridge was out.

‘‘I was still pretty new,’’ she said.

‘‘Coming home (from Timaru), we were avoiding thunderstorms, we were avoiding a southerly change, it was rough.’’