LAUNCESTON woman Debbie Stewart was speechless as she watched her new, bright yellow baby drop out of a clear, blue sky yesterday to land safely at the Cranbourne Airfield.
``I felt sick, just sick _ I've waited years to get it, it's a month since the day I bought it and it's taken a week for Robert (Sharman) to bring it home,'' Ms Stewart said.
``I haven't slept for days, I'm so excited.''
The arrival of the Australian-made, two seater Skyfox Gazelle, weighing in at 520 kilograms, was the culmination of a long journey for Ms Stewart.
She started flying lessons about eight years ago but gave up after her instructor was killed in a tragic accident.
``This year, though, I realised that I still very much wanted to learn to fly and wanted my own plane to do it,'' she said.
That's where her new instructor, Tasmanian Aero Club chief flying in?structor Robert Sharman, became part of the story.
Ms Stewart had searched Australia-wide for a suitable plane in her price range and found it in Western Australia.
``It was found in an old farm shed and done up by Peter Boley who lives at Karridale, near Margaret River,'' she said.
She couldn't fly the plane to its new home.
``I'm still learning,'' she said.
?So Mr Sharman did _ all the way down the West Australian coast, across the Nullabor to Murray Bridge in South Australia, to Apollo Bay in Victoria and across Bass Strait to Northern Tasmania.
Flying about six hours a day, covering about 900 kilometres a day, the journey took him five days.
It was a tight fit for the ?pilot with no room for the new owner.
After Mr Sharman loaded his flying gear, fuel and overnight bag, there was just enough room for him to fold his long legs into the pilot's seat.
``The weather was perfect, it was an easy trip and I had a tail wind across Bass Strait home,'' Mr Sharman said.
He saw a pod of about 50 whales at the head of ?the Great Australian Bight and taxied into the closest road house and up to the petrol bowser to refuel across the Nullabor.
Ms Stewart hopes to be in the air as the pilot of her new plane by Christmas.
She is nearly 60 and believes that she is one of the oldest Tasmanian women learning to fly.
She plans to be one of the oldest to soon hold a pilot's licence.