August 31, 2018
Liam Morey is not like many other 16 years olds, in fact, he’s quite extraordinary all round. And it’s this attribute which has bode well, especially in his latest endeavour – to be the youngest person to fly solo around Australia.
Liam Morey’s earliest memory of aviation is jumping on the trampoline in the backyard of his family’s Twin Waters home and watching the planes fly over.
At the age of 14, Liam took his fascination with flying into his own hands and took on a few part time jobs to pay for flight training, which he admits is not the cheapest hobby in the world for a youngster to take interest in.
In March last year, he obtained his pilot’s certificate, and in doing so became the youngest pilot in Australia at the time.
“As millennial as it sounds, the idea (to fly around Australia) was first given to me by someone I was Facebook friends with, who I was mentoring in Sydney, he said, ‘Why don’t you do this?’ I brushed it off but after talking about it with Ivan, my flight instructor and a few other people, we thought if we really got into it now, we could start to get take off – no pun intended,” he says with a smile.
Liam is in great company in his pursuits, given the Sunshine Coast is home to fellow aviation record-holder Lachlan Smart, who in 2016 became the youngest person to circumnavigate the world in a single engine aircraft at just 19 years old.
“When he came back from the world record, it was amazing; he did such a great job and at the time I thought maybe I can do something like that in the future, it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, but now we end up here,” he says.
The first step was completing his navigation training, because until that point Liam could only fly a limited distance from the Sunshine Coast Airport. The countdown is now on for Liam to jet off on the journey of a lifetime, departing from the Sunshine Coast Aero Club at 9am on Saturday, 1 September.
Flying a Bristell Light Sport Aircraft, Liam will travel over 16,000km around Australia, making 30 stops along the way over a three-week period. Upon the successful completion of his flight, Liam will beat the current record holder by nearly six months.
“I’m a little bit nervous, but I think that’s healthy, I don’t think you can go into something like this without being nervous.
“There are always going to be things we can’t control, such as weather or maintenance to a certain extent, which is why having a good logistics and support team behind you is really helpful.”
To qualify for the Guinness World Record, Liam has to be by himself in the aircraft at all times, including any joy flights along the way, and he has to provide video evidence and witness statements to prove he has physically completed the journey alone.
“The Sunshine Coast Aero Club will be my base station, so we’ll have people looking ahead for weather, fuel and logistics; when I get there who is going to pick me up, who will help me with the fuelling, accommodate me? It’s a huge logistical effort for over 30 locations over 16,000kms,” he says.
Along with the prestige of holding such a title, Liam is largely motivated by the message he wants to deliver to all young Australians – the record-breaking stunt is purely a vehicle to attract attention.
“It’s about fostering the passions of young people and telling them about the STEM industry – science, tech, engineering and maths,” he says.
“And secondary to that is the whole idea of youth empowerment, teaching other people that their big ideas can become a reality too if they put enough hard work and perseverance into it.”
Liam says STEM subjects have always been his favourite at school, and reveals that in the next five years there will be 160,000 jobs available in the STEM industry in Queensland, which is five times that of the next closest industry.
“We don’t have enough people filling that. There is a significant deficiency in the STEM area moving forward, so I’m trying to spread that passion with other people and show people what they can do in that industry, including all of the robotics coming out, the movement of trying to replace plastic and the plastic bag ban; all of that is happening in the industry, so the more people who can head towards it and be passionate about it, the more the industry grows,” he says.
In keeping with the STEM message, Liam’s journey will be tracked to the second using state-of-the-art technology, which can be followed via social media; just search for Teen Around Oz. Given his parents (particularly his mum) are understandably a little anxious about their teenage son setting off on his own, I’m sure they will be following very closely!
Flying up to 10,000ft, Liam says it’s very serene being at such a height in a small aircraft, and it’s easy to become addicted to the sense of freedom.
“When you’re up there, it’s the best feeling, looking down, you are your own person.”
And what a remarkable young person he is.