By Eliza Thomas (Winter 2006)

When a client of their agricultural machinery business traded an aircraft on new tractors it was time for Wendy Mann to learn to fly. This was the beginning of a passion which has now culminated in a successful business, Geraldton Air Charter.

On the day we spoke last month, Wendy had flown to the Murchison earlier in the day describing the water level in the recently flooded river and the unseasonably green rangeland. The charter for an insurance company was assessing flood damage to a homestead flooded by the Murchison River. Other jobs may involve flying a medical specialist to Moora, aerial photography at Shark Bay or whale watching for an oil company.
With a diverse mix of business and tourist customers it is not surprising that Wendy finds the flying to interesting and the sometimes inaccessible places and meeting interesting people as a highlight of her job.

When employed as a pilot Wendy saw potential for a second operator working out of Geraldton. In the early years, when trying to establish a market, Wendy identified
“perseverance” as the most important quality. In the first six weeks of operation Wendy obtained only a single charter. A goal of one charter per week was set. Today much has changed and Wendy gets concerned if she does not carry out two or three charters daily.

Geraldton Air Charter was established in 1997 with six seater Bonanza aircraft purchased over a 12 month period. Seeing the need for a larger aircraft, an eleven seater twin engine aircraft was purchased in January this year. This completes the company’s fleet of six planes which is flown by a staff of five pilots. Experience in a variety of small businesses and employment in local government has equipped Wendy with skills utilized in Geraldton Air Charter. Expansion to the business, increased regulatory requirement and security measures have now resulted in more time in the office. While she would prefer to be in the air, Wendy acknowledges the business management as an important aspect of the job that must be completed.

Since then, Wendy has flown many politicians, departmental staff, business people, health professionals and tourists. The Abrohlos Islands flights are a regular destination, especially in the crayfish season, with other frequent destinations being Meekathara, Carnarvon and Exmouth. Wendy will fly all over the state and has clients