Wing Threads Project Update June 2018

It's official

We have a plane!

Thanks to the generosity of the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Dick Smith, Airborne Australia and an anonymous donor, we have enough funds to acquire a new M4 Sport microlight aircraft from Airborne Australia! And the best part is… I’ll be helping to build it myself!

For the past six months, I have been learning aircraft maintenance, assembling aircraft and assisting with the test flying of new wings at Airborne’s workshop in Redhead, NSW. Now I will be helping to BUILD the plane I will be flying around Australia next year for Wing Threads: Flight Around Oz!

Me assembling a wing at Airborne
Me assembling a wing at the Airborne factory.
Test flying the new M4-S at Lake Macquarie Airport with Rick, Russell and Rory Duncan (left to right).

A massive thank you must go to Jane O’Malley, CEO of PHCC, for all of her hard work in bringing this generous sponsorship together. We’ll proudly be flying the PHCC logo on the wing of the aircraft.

Many thanks must also go to the boys at Airborne who have done a HUGE discount on a new aircraft to help make this possible as well as sponsored me with free access to fly their microlight aircraft out at Lake Macquarie Airport. With their help, I have built up over 120 hours of total flying experience in the trike.

But wait, there’s more! Recreational Aviation Australia have generously agreed to cover the costs of the aircraft registration! Hooray! Acquiring a plane has been the first big hurdle in achieving this ambitious project and we couldn’t have done it without the help of these organisations combined with the generosity of everyone who gave last year during the crowdfunding campaign. 

Aircraft assembly will begin in July and we’ll be bringing you progress updates of the build from the Airborne workshop throughout the month on Facebook and Twitter.

Airborne M4 Sport

For all the pilot nerds out there, the aircraft is an M4 Sport with the 80HP 912 Rotax engine and king-posted XRK wing, which cruises at about 60 knots. You can see all the details of the aircraft here.

A slight change of plans...

As those of you who have been following from the beginning will know, the original plan for Wing Threads: Flight to the Tundra was to first do a trip from Melbourne to Broome in 2019. 

After some consideration, I have now decided to circumnavigate Australia – a flight distance of approximately 20,000km similar to what the shorebirds fly on migration between Australia and the Arctic. All things going to plan, I intend to start in Broome when the shorebirds begin their northward migration in March 2019. Flying anti-clockwise around the country, I aim to finish back in Broome in October 2019 upon the shorebirds return.

I will be racing shorebirds fitted with satellite tags by the Australasian Wader Studies Group during their annual expedition to Broome in February. My own aircraft will also be fitted with a tag to track my own progress in comparison with the shorebirds on migration. 

Welcome to our new project manager!

Phil Allen

Phil Allen

Phil has a background in behavioural ecology and wildlife management working with seabirds.

Phil is a frequent traveller and enjoys planning an adventure equally as much as the adventure itself. As project manager, Phil’s job will be to assist with organising the logistics of the flight and community events. Thankfully, he loves doing risk analysis and following safety rules – great traits for an adventure project manager, even if it does make him a bit weird in my opinion…

Yay Phil! Welcome aboard 🙂

So what's next?

Road trip!!!

There’s nothing like a recce trip to get everyone excited, so it’s time to hit the road and start planning all of the logistics for the big flight around Australia next year. 

Starting in Newcastle, Phil and I will be driving around Australia from August to the end of October. We’ll be towing the microlight on a trailer and stopping at all of the places along the coast I will be flying to as I circumnavigate Australia.

We’ve also got several fundraisers in the pipeline (details to come) and I’ll be taking people flying to raise money for the running costs, safety equipment, ground crew and the documentary film. 

If you would like to host a fundraiser for Wing Threads, or help out with fuelaccommodation or hangar space during our trip, please email us at

Donations to the project can be made on the website at!

Anyone got a spare 4WD???

We’ve got the plane. We’ve got a microlight trailer.Our next big hurdle is finding sponsorship for a 4WD vehicle to tow the trailer and transport all of our gear with the ground crew.

Benefits of sponsorship will include logo recognition on the aircraft as well as on the side of the vehicle and the microlight trailer. All three of these vehicles will be heavily featured in photos and film during the project.

If you’d like to help out or know someone who can, please email us as

In Situ Science

In Situ Science

Interview with James O'Hanlon

Earlier this year in March, James O’Hanlon from the In Situ Science podcast visited me at the Airborne workshop in Redhead to talk all things flying, shorebirds & the life-changing moments that led me to pursue Wing Threads.

A big thank you to James for making the trip up from Sydney! 

Well, that’s it from me for the time being! Thanks so much for reading this far and I look forward to sharing further updates with you from the Airborne workshop as we build the plane and then later on the road. 

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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