Peter (aka Goose) & Sandra Kies
Left to right: Peter, Bridgette, Billie-Jo and Sandra Kies
Goose started his flying career in the 1970’s with his father Ken Kies owning a fixed wing aircraft (Piper Archer II) privately. During the years of the Kies Family owning Karrawirra Winery, Gooses’ love for aviation grew with swapping a few cartons of wine for a flight in the Channel 9 Helicopter with then pilot (Clive Lipscombe ) who was picking up parachutist from our private air strip.
Gooses’ love of helicopters started then and there and intensified when he went for a scenic flight with a guy called Ray Cronin near Melbourne in the early 80’s!! Goose then went on to become a commercial helicopter pilot in 1986.
Ray is the owner (along with his wife Eleanor) of Kestrel Aviation – they are well respected within the industry as one of the best! We still keep in touch today and utilise their flying school for training.
Sandra’s Bio – Coming soon!
When did you become a commercial Helicopter Pilot? 2005 (Aged 20)
How did you get into flying Helicopters? Well for me I have never known life without helicopters, we have always had one or more in the backyard, it took a long time for me to realise that it wasn’t ‘the norm’ to have a chopper parked in the backyard. I am third generation pilot as my grandfather flew aeroplanes and my dad flies’ helicopters (but started in Planes).
What was training like? Training was intense to say the least. But they break everything down, so you are only learning one thing at a time then gradually bring in new things as you progress. The first time I flew solo was pretty scary but absolutely exhilarating as I was fully in control of this flying machine!
Did you always want to become a pilot? Umm no, I had no idea what I wanted to do. When I left school, I worked on our family farm in the vineyard for a few years. Then one day I was looking out at the helicopter sitting on the helipad and thought….’I want to fly that’ and that was that. I started my journey a few months later and gained my licence just before my 21st birthday.
Most memorable flight to date? I’ve been lucky enough to have had many but most involve either sunrise or sunset flights…..that time of the day is just magical and I feel so blessed to have been able to see and do what I have. Most jobs I have done were a once in a lifetime experience for my clients but an everyday experience for me, which I am so grateful to have had.
Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years? Not really sure exactly, probably doing the same thing as I’m doing today, which I am totally fine with as every day is different and I love what I do.
What aircraft can you fly? Robinson R44, R22, Bell47, and the Bell206 series.
What other things do you do? Work in the office sometimes (don’t really like that though), look after our cattle, out in the tractor (doing whatever is required), I’ve been operating our grape harvester for the last 15 years, I do whatever job is needed to be done really. I ground crew and “front of house” most of the time. But most importantly I am the mother to 2 beautiful little people.
Bridgette started her flying career in 1999. Bridgette’s passion for flying did not come growing up around helicopters but later on in life when questioned from school teachers during year 12 about career ideas – her response to this was “I have absolutely no idea, I think I might fly helicopters” – well her teacher thought she was nuts but… January 1999 came around (3 months after finishing year 12) and she was learning to fly on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
By the end of 1999, Bridgette had a commercial helicopter pilot’s license and was certified by the CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) that she was Australia’s Youngest Female Commercial Helicopter Pilot – at 18 years of age.
Bridgette’s strong will has lead her away from the family business from time to time and she has found herself in a few different roles! Bridgette was also the first female helicopter Air Attack pilot for the Victorian DSE (being air attack to one of the Erickson Sky Cranes) as well as the first female helicopter air attack pilot for the SA CFS. She has also flown in the Northern Territory in places like Kakadu, Katherine, Borroloola and Nhulunbuy.
Bridgette is now the acting Chief Pilot, although she holds this office, she and Goose still work closely together in a joint roll within the company. Bridgette also runs the administration of the company.
Bridgette has the following endorsements and experience: the R22 and Bell 206 Series, R44 and AS350, is rated in low level and sling operations but enjoys remote desert work.
Francios Eksteen & Kirby de Meur
Francois ‘Frankie’ Eksteen grew up in New Zealand watching top dressing planes working on his family farm, dreaming that one day that would be him. He took a trial flight in a helicopter at 16 and decided when he finished school he would pursue a career in helicopters instead.
After a year traveling overseas he moved to a farm in Western Australia to save up for his training. Francois gained his licence in Perth before returning to the farm as a pilot for another year.
Francois moved to South Australia in February 2020 to join Barossa Helicopters, with his partner Kirby, who is a school teacher from WA.
Kirby now works in a local school and you might meet her doing the ground crew for us on the weekends.
Passionate about flying, Frankie believes he has the best job in the world, so feel free to ask him any questions about helicopters when you join him for a flight!