What do you say when your 15 year old teenager comes to you with an earnest look on his face saying “Dad, don’t think I’m silly, but what would you say about me flying around the world as the youngest person to ever do so?” Let me explain…
First of all there is “the look” that Lachie has. The best way to explain it is a mix of stubbornness and determination that just says, “You can’t stop me.” You just know that when Lachie gives you the look, what he is proposing is something that IS going to happen.
Lachie is my only child and from a young age has been meticulous, that much was evident when as a little kid he would line up his shoes to keep his space in order. He has always been diligent and steady, never upsetting others and has been cool and calm, he never swears nor speaks badly of others. While he has always been a gentleman, don’t mistake him as boring; he’s far from it.
For Lachie his determination and humour are key personality traits, and that has allowed us to share many great memories as he has grown up, including hitting the dirt track with our motorbikes.
I have memories of Lachie as this tiny kid on a little red Honda XR80, crossing creeks, climbing hills and wallowing in mud holes. He’d go anywhere, and I mean anywhere the men went. However he always proceeded at his own steady pace and only once he was confident he’d checked things out to be sure it could be done safely.
There was this one day when we were down in the forestry near the Glasshouse Mountains, I was on the big KTM 525 and Lachie on the little Honda 80. I went roaring down the track, through the forestry and across a deep creek, water up to my seat. I went to turn around to tell Lachie not to follow but there he was, water almost choking his little bike, confidently crossing the creek behind me, and “the look” was plastered across his face – he was right behind me!
As Lachie progressed into his mid-teens he excelled at school, completing year 12 at the tender age of 16 as an “A” student. He seemingly just handled life with ease, despite being thrown a few curve balls throughout his formative years.
When Lachie was just two years old his mother Vanessa and I split up, and as so may kids in divorced families do, he spent time between our houses. However around that we both Vanessa and I led ordinary lives, there was nothing fancy and it was often quite difficult financially. He has always been fortunate that we have had a close extended family, so he’s always been tight with his cousins.
Vanessa and I both also made a significant effort to leave the past behind, and we quickly focused on making Lachie the priority, keeping as much stability around our family unit as possible.
I’m sure that it isn’t just Vanessa and I that have been on the receiving end of “the look” before. Lachie has matured into a natural born leader in the past few years. This was a trait that was initially nurtured when he was a student at Nambour Christian College (NCC), a school that supported him from preschool to grade 12. He not only made a great bunch of friends at NCC but also found other talents, like his ability to play the piano and trombone.
While school was an essential, Lachie was able to pursue his passion for aviation at a younger age through the air force cadets where he found himself in gliders, planes, he learnt how to communicate, and was in the outdoors camping, orienteering and training.
He soon found himself again as a leader in the group with the cadets and he began teaching, leading, mentoring and even writing course material for the junior ranks. He also won a flying scholarship in the cadets and was lucky enough for support from the Coloundra RSL Club, who provided him with more valuable flying hours that went towards his private pilots licence.
As a parent the most important thing is to be there for your kid. Support costs nothing, but it means so much. From music concerts, to cadet parades, his first solo landing at Coolum airport and even hanging out with mates, we have done everything to be there when we need to be.
So back to how you might respond when your son announces that he is going to fly around the world solo… “WHY”?
The Look, his look, met mine and he exclaimed, “Because I can do it! I can break that record and show young people that they can achieve, they can reach their goals and things are never hopeless.
Lachie has a clear purpose, his determination is amazing and his people skills and organisation are taking him places I could never have imagined. It would be wrong not to support him.
With his biggest ever challenge ahead of him, it is now Lachie leading the way waist deep in water and me following with a strong support team. We will be there as he attempts to set the world record to be the youngest pilot to fly around the world.