Did you know Nullarbor Roadhouse has its very own airstrip?

This winter, we have the pleasure of hosting Chinta Air at the Nullarbor Roadhouse and are able to have guests take off into the skies right from our back door!

Through our affiliation with Chinta Air, we have launched “A Flight, A Night and A Bite” which allows our guests the opportunity to enjoy a scenic flight with Chinta Air over the Head of the Bight for some staggering views of the Southern Right Whales migrating, and the breath-taking Bunda Cliffs, as well as a stay in our motel accommodation and a two-course meal in the Nullarbor Roadhouse Restaurant.

We sat down with Felicity Brown the Chief Pilot of Chinta Air to discuss some of the most exciting aspects of her role, and allow our guests a chance to get to know a little more about Chinta Air and their scenic flights

Can You Tell Me A Little Bit About Yourself?

I’m the Chief Pilot of Chinta Air (currently the only female chief pilot in South Australia). I was formerly a secretary, a newspaper reporter, and then I managed a community resource centre before learning to fly. I’m in a relationship with 3 children.

What Does Chinta Air Do?

Chinta Air is an air charter company with bases across South Australia. The main base is at Ceduna, on the Far West Coast of SA. Other bases are at Rawnsley Park Station on the South side of Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, in Adelaide, and (during winter) at the Nullarbor Roadhouse. From each base, Chinta Air offers scenic flights over local attractions, and day tours to regional attractions. For example, from Nullarbor, passengers can take a day tour to Maralinga on the Great Victoria Desert, which was used as a nuclear bomb testing site in the 1950s and 1960s. Chinta Air Tours also offers an air taxi service. For example, from Nullarbor, a passenger can take an air taxi to meet up with the Indian Pacific train at Forrest. For those who really want to explore the Outback, Chinta Air offers tailor made air safaris of the Australian Outback, for example, from Adelaide to Uluru over four days, with stops in the Flinders Ranges and Coober Pedy. Chinta Air are the Outback Air Specialists.

Chinta Air pilots

Felicity Brown and Tom Pappin

Chinta Air, How Did It Start?

The spark for the business began when one of the owners, Felicity Brown, learned to fly (for a bet) and competed as the pilot for a team named “Delilahs of the Desert” in the 1998 Mobil Outback Air Race. At the time, Felicity was working as a Community Resource Centre co-ordinator in regional Western Australia and a single mum. The Outback Air Race is a navigation trial for light aircraft, similar to the Variety Club Bash, and is held every two years to raise funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Co-owner Noel Schwarz is a successful, innovative farmer at Ceduna on the West Coast of South Australia. In 2000, despite living in different states, the pair of passionate pilots bought an aircraft, and promptly realised that flying is a very expensive hobby.

The Chinta Air team in front of their plane

Felicity Brown, John Veerhuis, Danny Nakov

In 2002, Felicity moved across the Nullarbor to Ceduna and the stark reality occurred that the dream of flying needed to be turned into an aviation business. From their home base at Ceduna, the couple applied for an Air Operators Certificate, and a travel agency licence. This was the first time an air charter business had been established at Ceduna.

Why Do You Think People Love The Tours Out On The Nullarbor?

The attraction of the Nullarbor is the isolation and sense of space. At night, the ability to see stars from horizon to horizon always inspires awe. I think part of the attraction is that the Nullarbor is a destination that everybody has heard about, but aren’t really sure of what to expect. The biggest mistake with the Nullarbor is to drive across it in one day. The Nullarbor has hidden layers and unexpected sights, but these are not easily accessible. So you have to take the time, and allow the subtle beauty to wash over you to truly appreciate the Nullarbor.

A flight with Chinta Air over the Bunda Cliffs

What Are Some Of The Most Common Reactions You Get From People Who Go On The Tour?

Some of the reactions are:
A must do, excellent flight, saw heaps of whales, pilot was fantastic, it puts a whole new perspective on the Nullabor and Bunda cliffs if you get the chance, DO IT!
The Nullarbor is not as flat as I thought it was going to be.

What Do You Love Most About Your Job?

Every day is something different – from flying a scenic flight to taking people to a remote community to hosting international travellers on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.