What were you doing at the precarious age of Twenty One ? At 50, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up, so it certainly gave me a moment of pause, to meet Ryan John. My Pilot. Yes, you heard me. Not only is Ryan currently 21, but he is quite competent with his skills.
We were heading over the Cape Range National Park and then down the coast towards Coral Bay; I should have been completely absorbed by the incredible landscape, but instead, I could not stop thinking about this amazing child. He is just a kid. Turns out Ryan works for Coral Coast Helicopters, which is owned and operated by another young man, Justin Borg. They, along with office manager/ partner Jodie Anderson, have quite the business in the remote outback of Western Australia's Coral Coast.
This team of young-uns is taking the region by storm. Having only created CCH last November, Justin and Ryan are skilled craftsmen in the art of flying helicopters. Mustering (v) = to bring together cattle for counting. Is this a familiar word in your world? Probably not, but mustering is technically how Justin found himself in Carnarvon, Western Australia, looking to reinvent his life. With a fascination of flying from a very young age, Mr. Borg found himself with his Commercial Helicopter license in 2006 and began flying for a mustering company in Central Queensland. The greatest drought in seventy years hit in 2011, essentially terminating any need for mustering. Jobs, like the local vegetation, dried up quickly, and though it was a difficult decision to leave friends and family, Justin and Jodie headed west.
Though the Pilbara caught their attention for a bit, they eventually came across the agricultural community of Carnarvon, located on the azure blue Indian Ocean. With Mt. Augustus to the East, a myriad of islands to the West, flanked on either end with UNESCO World Heritage Sites- Shark Bay and the Ningaloo Reef, a new home was found. Though mustering would be limited, they saw tourism as a way to take their love of flying in a new direction.
Purchasing an R44 Raven ll, and bringing it all the up from Sydney, CCH was born. Working with the local visitor center and getting accredited only helped propel a busy first summer. They soon realized one pilot was not enough, which is where Ryan comes into the picture. Like minded in their love of flying, Ryan too had a dream of one day being a pilot. After working hard labor at at garage door company in Perth, Ryan woke one day to an epiphany. His love was flying, now was the time to make that dream a reality. Within 3 days he had a trial introductory flight and was hooked. Working 5 days a week to earn enough for just one hour of flight school was tough, but persarverance paid off. Soon it was announced that Polytechnic West of TAFE would offer an advanced course in Aeronautics. After being accepted, it was 6 days a week of learning about helicopters and of course flying; 10 months later an official pilot was born, just in time for CCH to search for another chopper and co - worker.
So, here we are, nine months and two helicopters later....Coral Coast Helicopters partners with a number of regional tour operators, providing everything from remote camping and secluded island snorkeling, to transportation to both UNESCO Heritage Sites. Mustering still falls into place with a number of cattle stations within a few hundred kilometers of Carnarvon. Justin is already thinking about a third helicopter and is creating quite the buzz along the Coral Coast for his enthusiasm and - think outside the box- no nonsense, business ethics. Incredible folks with charm and ability, such a pleasure having this crew around. If you are in the need for some thrill of a lifetime adventure, when visiting Western Australia, please seek them out, you won't regret it.