Sherwood Probus Club’s guest speaker for September was David Earley. David grew up in Brisbane but has spent many of his adult years working overseas as a helicopter pilot. He began flying training in 1965, gained his wings as an Army helicopter pilot in 1968 and then served 1969/1970 in Vietnam. He worked for a considerable amount of time in Papua New Guinea, firstly as pilot and manager of an international volunteer Christian linguistic research and translation organisation (SIL) and then as Chief Pilot of Pacific Helicopters during an intense period of oil exploration. Relocating to Australia he became CEO of Reef Helicopters based in Cairns and operating in the Torres Strait.
As a pilot for 46 years, David has flown airplanes and helicopters in some of the most inaccessible, demanding places on earth. He recounted his story in his book Beneath the Blades. Flying at the ends of the earth: a pilot’s journal.
In his talk, David described his experiences flying in remote areas and the range of work he carried out or managed. This ranged from contracts for defence, aeromedical retrieval, police, border protection and marine pilot transfer. Particularly moving was his description of his time in Vietnam; he commented that the impact of his service there gets worse rather than better. He shared with members his recent diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Throughout all these years his wife Nancy has been by his side.
On behalf of members, Harvey Dale thanked David for his very interesting talk and presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation and gift.