My final flight in Hong Kong as a Recreational Pilot

It’s a little hard to believe that one year ago I was writing about just how unique and fun flying in Hong Kong is as a recreational pilot. Here I am again, one year after that, writing about my final flight in Hong Kong.


I flew with my familiar instructor, Bertie, who has a reputation for being strict and fastidious. Being a former Tiger Moth owner and pilot, Bertie’s stick and rudder skills are second to none. He threw a curveball at me once again, asking me to plan a navigation exercise.

I thought ‘you’ve got to be kidding’.

He wasn’t, and with my limited knowledge I set off with the chart, plotter and marker. I plotted and drew the route up and did the measurements to the best of my ability. I completed the calculations for wind correction, groundspeed and time required. I put recorded all of the essential information from the chart, including the leg information, on a paper navigation log.

Although Hong Kong navigation exercises aren’t real navigation exercises, it still took me around half an hour to plan everything out.


After being briefed about what the exercise would involve, we took off. As we departed the Shek Kong area though Kadoorie Gap I took out my pre-folded chart, turned overhead from my starting point and went into my first heading. I hit start on my stopwatch, and I thought, “Here it is—the moment where I test out how accurate my planning as an absolute rookie is.”

We reached the first waypoint around a minute earlier than expected, which means we cruised at slightly faster ground speed. However, our tracking was pretty close to perfect and I estimated I was only half a nautical mile to the right of the planned track. Within my limits and my instructor’s limits, I reset my stopwatch, turned onto the next heading and then started the same process again. Just as I was about to get confident about the accuracy of this leg flight, information came through notifying us to stay clear of an en-route visual waypoint due to a rescue helicopter doing a rescue.


As we tracked towards our original point, we encountered an unexpected issue because the original point is a small island and there are many similar islands in Hong Kong. I was, at one stage, lost. I decreased the power and started flying slower than usual so I could figure this out. After a while, I managed to identify the outlet of the Plover Cove and identified the island.

Returning to Shek Kong, we defended into the circuit. Despite a strong northerly breeze that tossed us around a little bit, we ended up with a satisfying landing.


Hong Kong Aviation Club is an icon, a historical remnant of the bygone days of British Colonialism. People in the club all agree on one thing: preserving and advocating for recreational aviation is highly important and is what we do as recreational pilots. Not only do we fly aircraft, but we are also genuine ambassadors of the aviation family and we encourage more people to take part in such a beautiful journey.

What the club also taught me is to never take anything for granted, especially the freedom to fly and the availability of flying.


My aviation journey will now continue at Learn to Fly’s beautiful headquarters in Melbourne. For me, the school at Moorabbin Airport is full of the spirit and freedom of flying and it complies with the highest standards set out by aviation governing organisations, CASA and RA-Aus. Needless to say, I can’t wait to be back in Australia!

Stay tuned for further blog updates from me as I pilot the skies down under! To find out more about Learn to Fly Melbourne and the flight training on offer, please head to our courses page.

Contributed by Learn to Fly student Howard Lau


Final flight as a recreational pilot