Bob Bramley’s had his first experience behind the cockpit controls when he was just 14. (ABC News: Manika Dadson)
A 16-year-old Tasmanian boy is on a mission to break his friend’s record by becoming the youngest pilot to circumnavigate Australia solo — and he’s doing it to raise awareness of youth suicide prevention.
Bob Bramley, of Kindred near Devonport, started learning to fly just before his 15th birthday.
He only has a learner driver licence but earlier this year embarked on his first solo flight.
He’s now planning to take off on the biggest trip of his aviation career — a 30-stop solo flight around the country in January.
“With the best possible conditions I’ll do it in 17 days,” Mr Bramley said.
“On good days, I’ll be going six to seven hours flying, on the bad days I won’t be doing any flying at all.”
Long-standing instructor Eugene Reid has been training Bob ahead of the flight. (ABC News: Manika Dadson)
He is being mentored by Hobart pilot Oliver O’Halloran who was 17 when he became the youngest pilot to circumnavigate the country solo last year.
Flight instructor Eugene Reid, who has clocked up more than 21,000 hours of flying time, is helping him prepare for his January 2019 trip.
But Bob’s journey will have an added purpose.
He has named it “Surviving Turbulence” and plans to use the trip to raise awareness of suicide after almost losing two of his friends last year.
During stopovers he intends to talk to youth and media about the issue in an effort to help break the stigma of discussing suicide.
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“The two people I almost lost to youth suicide are very close to me now and without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” he said.
“[Youth suicide] affects the Australian community so hugely and it’s such a big issue that’s not often looked at.
“In a lot of cases people who’ve suffered from depression or suicidal thoughts don’t go and talk to their family and friends, they keep it all bottled up inside.
He is hoping to encourage young people to open up.
“[Most] children have a set sort of reply if someone says ‘are you okay’? They say ‘oh yeah, I’m fine’.”
“So it’s about being able to go out and talk to your friends and really tell them what’s going on, because that’s how you can save someone’s life.”
Bob’s mum Sandy Bramley said she’s “really proud” of her son.
“Suicide is under-reported, and if he can make a difference to one kid who doesn’t take their life, it’ll all be worth it,” Mrs Bramley said.
When he takes off his first stop will be Flinders Island.
He will then continue up the eastern side of the country, across to WA, back through the Great Australian Bight, and finish at Cambridge, just outside Hobart.
It’s expected to cost about $25,000 and any additional money raised throughout the trip will be donated to Beyond Blue.