Walther loves flying planes and teaching others to fly
The thrill of being up in the air has not waned for Andreas J. Walther, who has been flying planes for years. He is one of the few who can say that he is doing what he loves, for a living.
Walther’s experience with planes began at age 10, back in 1968.
“My neighbour had passed away and my birthday party had to be cancelled. It was quite disappointing, until my father took me to the airport and put me aboard a Cessna 172 for my first flight,” he recalled.
Dream job: Walther with his Cessna 172 that he uses to instruct students. It is the same plane model he first flew in
He remembered listening to the pilot speaking over the radio and was overwhelmed by all the buttons and levers in the cockpit.
“When the plane took off, I could not see much as I was shorter than the window. I remembered it being a bumpy ride and truthfully, I felt scared!” said the 53-year-old German who has lived in Malaysia for more than 10 years.
However, that ride left Walther with a lasting impression and he grew up to love planes.
As years passed, Walther ended up working in the hotel industry, building and managing establishments all over the world. His job took him to many countries and it was in 1985 in Singapore when he finally got his pilot licence.
As luck would have it, he did not fly much the next 10 years due to circumstances until he came to Malaysia in 1995.
“I stopped work to do what I liked — which was flying. I became a flight instructor and eventually set up the Air Adventure Flying Club to help others with a dream of flying to achieve it,” said Walther, who has a Malaysian Certified Flight Instructor licence as well as multi-engine, New Zealand, Brazilian, Cambodian and Australian pilot licences.
One of his most memorable flights was from the sector from New Zealand to Malaysia that took 60 hours and 30 minutes.
“A few friends and I decided to buy a Piper Cherokee in New Zealand and since I was the one without a job, I was asked to bring the plane back to Malaysia. On the journey, I made a lot of stops thus the extra hours,” he said.
It was a challenging flight and the longest stretch he flew on that route was from Darwin, Australia to Bali, Indonesia across the Timor Sea.
First love: Walther flew from New Zealand to Malaysia in this plane
“It was a nine-and-a-half-hour flight. I could not leave the cockpit to even go to the toilet and the only way I got through it was not to think about it until I landed,” he said.
Walther said every flight was different depending on factors like weather, wind, time of day and such.
“I like flying because it gives me the feeling of being liberated. It is also a myth that learning how to pilot a plane is difficult,” he said, adding that passion was necessary to pursue the activity as a hobby or career.
Through the club, he has taught people from as young as 17 (the minimum age requirement for flying with the club) to 63 years old from all walks of life.
These days, Walther’s flight destinations are usually guided by good food in the region such as nasi kandar in Penang to Thai food all over Thailand and nasi padang in Padang, Indonesia.
The next adventure Walther plans to embark on is a flight to Lake Toba in Medan.
“The lake and island inside the crater is 3,000 feet below sea level. I think such an experience will be pretty amazing,” he said.
Source: The Star Publications
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