The sounds of an aeroplane's engine has been the life of one pilot ever for as long as he can remember. Now, Robin White - or Rob as he is affectionately known - is handing in his wings, but still promises the sky has not seen the last of him.
Mr White always wanted to fly, with his parents telling him he used to lie in a pram as an infant and stare up at the birds.
"I was always fascinated by anything that was flying. I used to see the pilots come in to Launceston and think they were little gods sitting there in the cockpit," he said.
A young Mr White visited South Australia in his early twenties, and the owner of the motel was a pilot who encouraged the young enthusiast that if it was also his dream to become a pilot, he could make it a reality.
"The long and short of it is I got back to Launceston after the holiday and I picked up The Examiner. What should I see in there but application invites for [a flying scholarship]," he said.
Mr White applied, and out of about 60 applicants was the winner of the scholarship. That was the moment he first thought to himself he may be able to pursue a career in aviation.
He took to the industry like a plane to the sky and received his private pilots' license in about 1963.
From there, Mr White's career quickly took flight. He went on to receive scholarships for a commercial pilots license and flight instructor ratings.
Mr White had previously been studying engineering, but that was discarded for his one true love, flying.
Once Mr White completed his scholarships, he began work at the Tasmanian Aero Club in 1964/65, which he stayed at as a charter pilot and flying instructor until 1971.
Over the course of his career, he has transported coffins, rescued injured bushwalkers, and stationed flights to Lake Pedder. The pilot spent several years on the North-West Coast before he decided to move on from Tasmania and found himself in Western Australia seeking a job flying for one of the mining companies.
However, there were none available, so Mr White found himself in a job in Perth as a traffic officer with Ansett Australia.
"When I started with Ansett and realised what a good job it was, I thought, 'I'm not going to go back to flying full time'. Conditions were really good and the pay was much better," he said.
But, the call of flying was too strong and once Mr White had been transferred to Launceston within Ansett, he spent his after-hours time at the Aero Club.
"When I was working at the Aero Club, I used to fly from Launceston to Bridport and give flying training. It really built up," he said.
The now 80-year-old has been working on weekends as a volunteer for Flinders Island Aviation for about six years, but has decided it is time to come back down to the ground.
"I'm fast approaching 81 and I think I have had a pretty good innings. I've decided to let my Class 1 Aviation Medical lapse," he said.
Not renewing his medical will mean Mr White can no longer take passengers on trips, but he still has his Class 2 which will allow him to fly for freight, mail, or maintenance purposes.
"It's so fascinating that something like a plane can get off the ground, it's incredible really," he said. "But, now to me it's a bit like riding a bike. It all just feels to me as though the airplane is an extension of my body.
"I've just about flown into all the islands out this way that have an airstrip."
Flinders Island Aviation director Peter Barron said he was sad to see Mr White stop flying passengers, but he would still be around.
"What's amazed me with Rob is he is still so alert and so efficient," he said.
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