Bob Bramley is a 16-year-old growing up on a farm in North-West Tasmania. He has a strong passion for aviation and hopes to one day pilot a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. When Bob’s not busy flying, he’s helping his parents sell vegetables, working at the village store or hanging out with his mates from Scouts.
Bob plans to break the world record for the youngest person to circumnavigate Australia solo and unassisted by aircraft in January 2019. He will use his world record attempt to raise awareness about youth suicide prevention by working with beyondblue.
The issue is close to his heart as he almost lost two close friends to suicide in late 2017. It’s also something that significantly affects rural communities across Australia like his hometown Kindred. Bob hopes to use his flight to promote discussion about mental health and create positive change in rural communities.
Bob has a long-time passion for aviation and in January 2018 completed his first solo flight. The previous year he was named Student Pilot of the Year at his flight school.
Bob shared his passion for flight by developing the first aviation training program for Scouts in Tasmania. He also became the youngest person in the history of Scouts Tasmania to be appointed Tasmanian State Coordinator for Scout Air Activities in 2017.
Bob’s world record attempt will take him on a 13,000-kilometre journey to 30 different airports across Australia. He’ll take off in January 2019 from his home airport of Devonport and then travel up the east coast of Australia. He’ll stop at urban areas including Sydney and the Gold Coast before landing at regional centres like Townsville.
From the tip of northern Australia, he’ll travel West to Darwin, Broome and Karratha. He’ll then fly south to Perth, cross over Western Australia to Adelaide before heading back home. He’ll stop off at King Island and Hobart before returning to Devonport after three weeks in the air.
In order to break the record, he must travel to the most northern, southern, eastern and western points of Australia.
We spoke with Bob…
At such a young age, when did you first find your passion for flying –
As a kid, I have always enjoyed the idea of flying and aeroplanes in general were always of interest, it was May 2017 at the Devonport regional airport where the aero club was hosting a club event. During this time, they were offering 30 minutes in a Skyfox Gazelle in the air with an instructor and even before we took flight, it was right then and there I knew that this is what I wanted to do. It wasn’t long before that first flight experience it was brought to my attention of an opening for a scholarship taking place and was encouraged to apply, as luck would have it, I was accepted and was asked when I would like to commence the program… I said, “Can we start tomorrow”.
What was it like being mentored by Oliver O’Halloran, being the youngest pilot to take a 20 day, 15,000+ km journey across Australia–
Ollie was a true mentor, who took the time to really take me under his wings, always being supportive and allowing me to learn by someone I look up to, it was Ollie who also persuade me to try out and take on the record, with his kind gesture of “Let me help you get this”. We have become great friends and today share the journey and passion of aircraft and aviation. I also have flight instructor Eugene Reid, who has over 22,000 hours of flying time assisting me to prepare ahead for the January 2019 trip.
In January 2019, you will take a 30 stop solo flight, within a 17 – 20-day trip, what are the biggest challenges you have here –
The weather conditions play the biggest challenge when looking to make timeframes, with the wet season in the north of the country, during this time of the year and with the summer period some of the best flying conditions can be during first light and before 10:00am.
This journey ahead is for purpose and awareness to raise discussion on youth suicide across the country –
Yes indeed, during the end of 2017, two close friends of mine tried to take their own life, it was during this time that I wanted to get involved and ensure this was to have more light shined on. I found that while we might all be aware on the subject, we become caught in actually asking if those people around us are truly ok deep down or how one can find signals to be there for them or direct them to speak with a professional in the field. “Without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today”.
What are the plans you hope to achieve with the journey coming up –
I aim to stop by local events in each town and meet with youth groups and organisations to discuss and bring to attention about the subject and encourage conversations, as much more is needed to develop support for those in need of help and direction. Statistics released in October this year show Tasmania’s suicide rate was 15.6 per 100,000 people in 2017, higher than the national rate of 12.6, with many rural areas not only in Tasmania, but across Australia having less services, programs or groups for support.
Bob, what’s next –
I guess learning and growing with all the things in the wonderful world of aviation and aircrafts, making a difference… maybe also get my drivers licence.
If you would like to follow Bob’s journey, get involved or support, visit the “Surviving Turbulence” website to follow his journey, if you would like to support or make a donation you can via Chuffed and follow on facebook.
If any one you know requires help: