Judy Hodge is a pilot who went on to win her seaplane endorsement last year. Well known in Port business and real estate circles, from 2005 she took a couple of years out beachcombing in Vanuatu before returning here, and now plans to combine her experience in real estate with her passion for flying … offering the ultimate – aerial – property inspection
I came into the world at a remote mission hospital in northern South Africa and spent my early years on my parents’ cattle farm there, and later in Natal. Most of my young life was spent at boarding school. After school I was offered a job in a real estate office in a seaside village near our farm; I grabbed it! Five years later I bought a small farm just outside Cape Town and had 10,000 rose trees under shadecloth, supplying wholesale florists with cut flowers, and growing olives – an idyllic lifestyle. When I was 19 my dad had asked if I’d like to learn to fly: the bug bit; I loved it! But, eventually, marriage and children followed and the idea of selfishly spending money on flying didn’t sit well.
We came to Australia, to Melbourne, in the mid-80s, where my son Stephen was born and in 1991 moved to Port, where my daughter Ruth came along. When she was in pre-school, I’d returned to real estate when I met a new vendor, John Trajkovic, who had his own aircraft and had become an instructor … so some 25 years after I’d first taken flying lessons, here it was again! Only this time I was determined not to let it go. I allowed myself one hour in the sky for every property I sold and secured my private pilot’s licence in 2004.
That’s when I first flew a seaplane. I met Bill Lane, the chief flying instructor, at the marina after I finished my Saturday open-house inspections. I waded out, climbed up onto the plane’s float and on board – and I remember being struck by the exciting sensation of that magnificent flying machine buoyant on the water! I taxied out past the yachts to our take-off spot: I’ll never forget the feeling as this beautiful machine started to rear its head and come up out of the water. A gentle push forward on the control column and we were ‘on the step’, skimming along the surface until lift-off. We flew down the coast to Queens Lake and Bill put me through my paces, then we landed and taxied to a remote beach. I was hooked! The ultimate freedom of being able to go anywhere you want, land anywhere, and not be restricted to a stretch of black tarmac with a white stripe. To go to remote places and find the best fishing spots no one else can reach.
Between then and now I spent about 18 months living in Vanuatu but, back in Port last year, I threw myself into my passion for doing my floatplane endorsement and I achieved that last September. During the Christmas holidays I asked Bill if I could help out with the floatplane and gain experience (with over 30,000 hours’ flying, most of it on floats, he’s probably the best instructor in the country). Four months on I’m still there nearly every day. Now I’m studying for my commercial pilot’s licence so I can take passengers up and ultimately make this my life.
Stephen’s 21 now and a RAAF avionics technician; Ruth’s in her final year at St Columba, hoping to go to Monash next year, and while I’ve been down at the waterfront an amazing number of people have asked me if I’d sell their properties for them. So I’m planning to combine real estate again with my love of flying. Many buyers these days search properties via internet, so I don’t need a shopfront. I’ll work from a home-based office and equip my vehicle with everything I need. Then I can be near my beloved seaplane when I want that ‘fix’, keep my costs and commissions down, and take clients up for the ultimate property inspection! I’m a licensed real estate agent and will be up and running again in the near future. Port’s a glorious place to live, flying is my passion and I’m determined to pursue it. Life’s too full of ‘should-haves’. People regret more in life what they haven’t done, rather than what they have.”