Wing Threads Easter Update 2020

A new year & new beginnings

The Wing Threads children's book accepted!

In my last update, I mentioned that CSIRO Publishing approached me at the Australasian Ornithological Conference in Darwin last year about creating a children’s book about Wing Threads. After several drafts and much back and forth, it is my great pleasure to announce that the Wing Threads children’s book was officially accepted by CSIRO Publishing last month and will be published and ready for shipping by next year!

I am so excited to be working with acclaimed children’s book author, Jackie Kerin, who has brought her amazing ability to capture the imagination through language and her own love of shorebirds to this project. Some of the books Jackie has written include Pharlap the Wonder Horse and Lyrebird. The Wing Threads narrative is aimed at lower to middle primary school kids and is about me flying around in my microlight sharing fun facts about why shorebirds are awesome – very meta! I can’t wait to bring Jackie’s words to life in pictures as illustrator of the book.

A huge thank you to Jackie and also to Briana Melideo from CSIRO Publishing for helping this bring Wing Threads to life in print. I love working with two women who are equally excited about this project as I am. Words cannot express how grateful I am. 

Author, Jackie Kerin, standing next to a kimibashi storybox in front of a river in Melbourne
Author, Jackie Kerin, telling stories using the Japanese art of Kamishibai.

Learning to fly 3-axis at Phil Unicomb Aviation

Before I do the flight around Australia, I need to get my controlled airspace endorsement; something that you can’t do in a microlight. As a first step towards this, I began learning to fly 3-axis in a TL-Sirius ultralight in February to complete my Recreational Pilot Certificate through RAAus with Phil Unicomb Aviation out at Cessnock, NSW with instructors Phil Unicomb and Georgia Volschenck. 

Selfie of Amellia Formby in front of ultralight aircraft
Me with the TL-Sirius ultralight out at Cessnock, NSW.
Selfie of Amellia Formby and her flight instructor, Georgia, wearing headsets and sunglasses in the cockpit
Me with my fearless instructor, Georgia Volschenck.

Both Georgia and Phil are amazing pilots. Georgia is an ex-RAAF pilot who used ot fly PC-9s and Phil flies just about everything and is an aerobatics extraordinaire. He is also highly amusing and I have learned we have a shared love of potatoes. There have been several moments during my training where I have been laughing so much it has been hard to concentrate! 

Thankfully, my earlier 3-axis training in the Foxbat from a few years ago came back and Phil sent me solo after about 10 hours. The best part about going solo at Phil Unicomb Aviation it that you get to wear the fez! It is such a fun flying school and I highly recommend you check out their hilarious videos on Facebook.

I managed to get a couple of hours solo in before the flying school had to close down due to COVID-19. Hopefully we all won’t have to wait too long before we are back in the skies again. I am very much looking forward to finishing off my flight training!

Amellia Formby and Phil Unicomb shaking hands in front of a white and orange ultralight aircraft
Me with Phil Unicomb after completing my first solo in the Sirius.

Working for BirdLife Australia

In December of last year, I took on a new part-time role as Migratory Shorebird Project Officer with BirdLife Australia, based in Newcastle. 

Since then, I have been working with Hunter Local Land Services to deliver 3 online workshops for the Hunter, Port Stephens and Manning River estuaries and Worimi Nature Reserve. Part of this has involved visiting local shorebird sites and I’ve had a great time helping the Hunter Bird Observers Club with their monthly surveys at different locations. 

Before all the COVID-19 craziness hit, our Program Manager, Steve Klose came up to Newcastle for a visit and check out some of these sites with the team. The weather also cooperated and I was able to give Steve a bird’s eye view of the Hunter estuary in the trike! An experience I love sharing with people. 

Selfie of Amellia Formby and Steve Klose wearing microlight helmets
Me with Steve Klose in the microlight!

COVID-19 Update

Postponing Wing Threads: Flight Around OZ - Again

Last, given the uncertainty around when life will return to normal due to the coronavirus, I have decided to postpone my flight by another year. Like all of us, my plans have been disrupted by the outbreak and timelines for project goals have had to be pushed back. I also feel it would be unwise to try to run a crowdfunding campaign this year. 

Due to restrictions on unnecessary travel, I have also decided not to fly for the time being. I must say, I was pretty sad packing up my trike but I wanna keep her nice and protected from the salt air during iso. In the meantime, it’s time to do some aviation theory to overcome the flying withdrawals!

However, there is a silver lining to every dark cloud and in this one I will have more time to work on the book and prepare for crowdfunding next year, which will be centred around the children’s book.

Wing Threads has weathered many unforeseen challenges up until this point and I have no doubts that this is just another bend in the road that has been the Wing Threads journey thus far!

Thank you all again for your ongoing support and I look forward to bringing you illustrations and sneak peaks from the book as they unfold! If you don’t already, be sure to follow Wing Threads on Facebook and Instagram at @wingthreads.

Milly Formby
Milly Formby is a zoologist, pilot, and illustrator of the children’s book, A Shorebird Flying Adventure She is currently flying her microlight around Australia in 2022/23 to share,A Shorebird Flying Adventure with primary students.
Image credits:
Book cover for A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

Available Now

Join Milly on her microlight and discover how amazing and awesome migratory shorebirds are!

Milly Formby is a zoologist and illustrator of the children’s book A Shorebird Flying Adventure. Available now through CSIRO Publishing.

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