Pittsworth stock and station agent is flying high
STOCK and station agent Mark Droney is parking his ute in favour of an aircraft.
Mr Droney has spent the past 36 years driving to clients' properties all over Queensland and New South Wales, racking up more than 100,000km a year.
It was 18 months ago that the Pittsworth man decided it was time to get a license to fly.
The idea came to him when retired grazier Hugh Miller relocated from Cunnamulla to Pittsworth and no longer needed his four-seater Cessna 172.
"It's been a fantastic proposition for me. I will still be able attend live stock sales and farming clearing sales and not have to spend so much time on the road," he said.
"I'm hoping to soon cut down the travelling time by flying to clients' properties."
Mr Droney has been learning to fly through the Airline Academy of Australia's Wellcamp Airport base for the last year.
His training is already benefiting his business.
During one of his lessons recently he flew to Moura to buy 100 head of cattle for a client.
"Flying is already helping my business," he said.
"I'll still use my ute occasionally but, for the clients far away, using my plane will save me so much time."
Mr Droney plans to have his license in the next few weeks.
"Hopefully I'll have my licence soon," he said.
"I love the practical flying aspect but now it's time to really study so I can pass my solo test.
"I intend to keep the plane at Wellcamp airport. It's close to home and I will be able to refuel at the airport."
Wellcamp airport's general manager Phil Gregory said he expected more smaller aircraft operators to use the airport, particularly as a refuelling base.
"We now have avgas on site, so we have started to get a lot of enquiries," he said.
"I think there has been the perception in the community we don't cater for smaller planes, but that's not the case.
"We are a jet-capable airport and have clients such as QantasLink, Rex, Aergo and soon Airnorth but we welcome planes of all sizes."