Mildura Weekly : Friday June 20 Vol 8 No 33
www.milduraweekly.com.au 14 Mildura Weekly – 20/06/14 CHRIS Sperou is the first to admit he often used to ‘wag’ school so he could go out to the Ceduna airstrip to watch the various aircraft, including military planes, take off and land. He also admits he more often than not paid the price – copping a caning from the headmaster on his return. Those experiences may not have helped with his school work, but they left a lasting impression on the youngster, so much so that later in life all Chris wanted to do was fly planes, especial- ly after a taste of the armed forces, being a national ser- viceman with the 10th Bat- talion and CMF. His dream was to join the Air Force, but his parents weren’t keen on the idea, and forbid it. That all changed when Chris turned 21. He was a free agent, so off he went and took the first step to a career in aviation - signing up with the Royal Aero Club of SA. He spent his early years training in the old DeHavil- land Chipmunks, the same as the ones used to train military pilots, and Chris was hooked, especially after going solo, and putting the sturdy little aircraft through a series of tight manoeuvres. This in turn led to a love of all things aerobatic, an art that Chris devoted many hours of flying to, leading to him becoming an Austra- lian aerobatic representative, 13-time national champion, world bronze medallist, stunt pilot, film ‘extra’...and much more. The now 75-year-old, who has never lost his love of flying, will be one of the star attractions at the 2014 Riverland Field Days on Fri- day and Saturday, September 19 and 20. The former hand line fisherman from Thevenard on the West Coast tells a great story about the first time he won an Australian aerobatics title...despite the fact he wasn’t endorsed to fly aerobatics at the time! Later in life he put that straight when a good friend, a chief flying Instructor and ex-Air Force pilot, asked Chris to show him a few of the more unusual manoeu- vres he had developed over the years ...after which he stamped Chris’ Pilot Log Book as “aerobatic rated.” Chris went on to repre- sent the SA Aero Club in a three man formation team, subsequently winning nine titles, winning the Austra- lian Aerobatic and Unlim- ited title 13 times, as well as representing Australia in the World Aerobatic titles, with a podium finish in 1980. “Over the years I have perfected an unlimited rou- tine of low level aerobatics down to 50ft in my Super Pitts Special Bi-Plane,” he said. “My aircraft is equipped with a smoke generator, and I fly all my routines trailing smoke.” Chris was the first pi- lot in Australia approved to carry out the ‘inverted ribbon cut,’ which involves rolling upside down at 30ft, then descending to 25ft above the ground - inverted - (up- side down) to cut a ribbon, stretched between two poles, with the aircraft propeller. He also does a ‘roll’ around another aircraft in formation, with the highlight being the tricky manoeuvre of flying upside down for virtual ‘mirror image’ flying only a few feet from the cock- pit of the other aircraft. He lists another spectacu- lar routine as going into a spiral around a parachutist trailing a large Australia flag or that of a sponsor. Some readers might re- member Chris’ fly-past at the Adelaide 500 race, with a FA18A fighters on each of his wing tips. Chris also flew a routine at one of the last few Formula 1 races, in a Hawker Sea Fury, one of the fastest piston-driven aircraft in the world. “At one stage I was pulling was around 410 knots,” he said. “Boy, was that hot – I was pulling con- trails (vapour trails) off my wing tips in the pull-up.” His movie credits as a stunt pilot between 1984 and 2002 include The Fire In The Stone, Run Chrissie Run, The Blue Lightning, Until The End Of The World, Kangaroo Jack and Greg Chappell’s World (documentary). Chris was a foundation member of the Australian Aerobatic Club and the SA Chapter, where he is now a life member. He has obtained approval from the Civil Avia- tion authority to test and recommend Aerobatic Club members for low-level aero- batic waivers and unusual at- titude formation flying. His achievements include setting an Australian altitude record (in 1985) in the Pitts Special, climbing to 27,650 feet over SA. He has spon- sored aerobatic flights for the Variety Club Bash, Edin- burgh Air Force Base Variety Club Children’s Christmas Party, Sea Food Affair (Ad- elaide and Children’s Hos- pital), Red Cross and others, along with annual pleasure flights for selected Australian Air League cadets. • More from the Riverland on Pages 19,20 & 21. He’s a 13-time Australian aerobatic champion who, at 75, has his feet firmly planted on the ground, but at the same time he’s... At home in the air www.milduraweekly.com.au • AERIAL ACE: That’s high-flying Chris, left, discussing aerobatics with a client.
Friday June 13 Vol 8 No 32
Friday June 27 Vol 8 No 34