Coast's teen pilot on cloud nine
A young recreational pilot, who gained her aerobatics licence only three months ago, has taken home third place in the state titles.
Noosa District State High School student Nina Burkardt, 17, secured her aerobatics licence in the Easter school holidays and from there set her sights on the Queensland State Aerobatics Titles at Watts Bridge.
The Australian Aerobatics Club's Queensland Chapter hosted the competition between July 14 and 16 and pitted Nina against an otherwise all-male group consisting of seven other competitors over the age of 30.
She said that during the competition, she had worked her way into second place for the first half but was unable to hold the position against the more experienced pilots.
However, she was lucky enough to finish in third place.
"It was very unreal," Nina said.
"I've never done anything like it before."
Prior to the competition, Nina admitted to being unsure about how her plane would perform when pitted against the higher-standard models expected to participate alongside her.
"The other ones are really high performance, and the one I'm flying, it's sort of heavy and slow," she said.
Nina's instructor offered her the chance to test a higher-standard plane before she competed but was unable to find the time between her Year 12 studies, work and her volunteer duties as secretary with her local rural fire brigade.
During the state titles weekend, one of the of the other competitors generously offered Nina the opportunity to fly in one of those superior planes, just for the experience.
Through it all Nina has received unconditional support from her instructors and family, especially her mother Ines Burkardt, who has always encouraged the teenager in her endeavours.
Nina obtained her initial recreational pilot licence in December last year.
"From the start, it's pretty much a whole journey, and then you sort of make your way up to the top, to get to aerobatics," she said.
"But you have to do certain qualifications before that, which I did, and all up it was probably about 80 hours before I got to that stage."
To others considering aerobatics or taking up flying recreationally, Nina encouraged them to "just go for it".
Since her first flight in September 2015, Nina has been a runner-up for three different awards, including the 2016 Aerospace Gateway Schools Award and Qantas Quest Award.