The Sky's the Limit!

Celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion in aviation

Recreational Aviation Australia exists to advance aviation in Australia and to encourage training across a range of aviation activities. We believe that encouraging diversity and fostering inclusion in recreational aviation can broaden the appeal of flying and make it more accessible to a wider range of people.

Aviation may be seen as exclusive and out of reach, when in fact it is attainable for people from all walks of life and abilities, in a cost-effective environment supported by a strong safety culture.

A welcoming community and a sense of belonging can inspire more people to take to the skies and experience the freedom and joy of flying.

“The gift of flight has not only expanded my perspective of what I am capable of, it has opened my mind to see greater possibilities, enabling me to achieve far more than what I thought was ever possible.” 
David Jacka, RAAus Pilot

Read more about David Jacka's story:

  • Have you ever had a goal or a dream that you really wanted to do, but never thought you could?

    My dream ever since I was a kid, was to fly. But this dream as well as my life was shattered when I was nineteen. I had a motorbike accident that left me with quadriplegia and only six percent physical function. For the rest of my life, I would be in a wheelchair—paralysed from my armpits down, with limited arm function, no use of my fingers and unable to regulate my body temperature.

    Trying to relearn how to feed myself seemed almost impossible, let alone trying pick up small objects without the use of functioning fingers. I couldn’t see any hope for my future.

    However, over time, I began to rebuild my life one small goal at a time; from brushing my teeth, to putting on a T-shirt, to eventually, relearning to drive. The more goals I achieved, the bigger they got, building my confidence and hope for the future.

    Fast forward seventeen years from my accident to 2005, I went to the Avalon Airshow and saw the most amazing aircraft, a weight-shift microlight (trike). It’s basically a big, powered hang glider with wheels. The simplicity of how to control it grabbed my attention. “I can do this!” I thought. My boyhood dream of learning to fly was reignited.

    Admittedly, I was quite unprepared for some negative attitudes towards my ability to fly, which made me question my capabilities and my dream. However, I was fortunate to find an instructor who looked past my disability and could see what I was capable of and gave me the opportunity to learn to fly. After adapting an aircraft to suit my ability, I did my first solo in February 2006, less than a year after my dream was rekindled.

    Flying made me feel as if anything was possible. It opened my mind to greater possibilities—and flying solo around Australia seemed like the perfect challenge. My mission for the flight: “Raise the publics expectation of what people with disabilities are capable of and inspire all to follow their dreams.”

    Upgrading to a Jabiru J230, suited the long distances, that I adapted using innovative solutions approved by Jabiru; a hand lever for the rudder, a sip/puff system to control the speed of the engine by sipping and puffing on a tube, and simple adaptations to allow me to grip the control column, amongst other things.

    With the support of a wonderful Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) instructor, I completed my conversion from weight-shift to 3-axis and was ready to tackle my biggest challenge and fly solo around Australia.

    On 29th April 2013, my support team in two support planes and I set off from Tooradin Airport for the On a Wing and a Chair Around Australia flight.  The team and I circumnavigated the coastline, including Tasmania, covering almost 16,000 km. It was a challenging adventure, with the team experiencing delays from bad weather, and a few mechanical problems, making it back in 38 days—where I became the first person with quadriplegia to fly solo around Australia.

    The gift of flight has not only expanded my perspective of what I am capable of, it has opened my mind to see greater possibilities, enabling me to achieve far more than what I thought was ever possible.  The support of inclusive organisations such as RAAus, having open minded instructors and the encouragement of the flying community, have been key in helping make my boyhood dream and the flight around Australia a reality.

    For more information on Dave Jacka’s story, his second book, On a Wing and a Chair: An epic solo flight around Australia, tells the story of this incredible adventure. Available at and online bookstores.



“The mission of Wings Without Barriers is to create understanding and acceptance of autism in the community through education.”
Hayden McDonald, Project Leader, Wings Without Barriers & RAAus Pilot

Read more about Hayden's story:

  • My passion for aviation is like the sky - high, huge, and limitless..

    I'm Hayden McDonald and I'm based out of Myrup Fly-in Estate, which is 16km southeast of Esperance Airport and on the outskirts of the town of Esperance (Kepa Kurl). I'm the Project Leader for Wings Without Barriers, and I love showcasing recreational aviation in Australia to the world while teaching about autism.

    I have been flying for most of my life, both as a passenger as a kid with my Papa in his Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, flying across the Nullarbor, and as a pilot since I was 16 when I started my training in the Jabiru J120-C, which I now own. My passion for aviation is like the sky - high, huge, and limitless. Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) gave me the ability to fly and follow my passion.

    I want to fly for the RFDS as a career as I live in a remote area and know how important access to medical care is. I want to work for a good cause that is satisfying and beneficial to the community, and by flying with RAAus, I can develop my skills and flight time while I continue to work with CASA for my Class 1 and 2 medical.

    RAAus has been the most inclusive aviation organisation I've seen in Australia, presenting opportunities for people that may not otherwise be able to fly. I would even say RAAus' mission is "Every type of pilot in every home" because that's what they do. We have more freedom of choice regarding the type of aircraft we want to fly compared to the US, where aircraft can only go up to 120 knots and can only have fixed gear.

    The mission of Wings Without Barriers is to create understanding and acceptance of autism in the community through education. To do that, I make aviation vlogs on YouTube to share my passion and talk about autism and how it affects me. I'm in the middle of planning a solo circumnavigation around Australia to help spread the message further and show that flight is flight and try to get the ball rolling to get medicals to be more flexible with the neurodiverse. We may not be Captain Sully, who pulled off the miracle on the Hudson or the crew of QF32, who dealt with a bad hand of mechanical poker and still won against huge impossible odds, but we aim to be the best pilots we can be and keep improving.

    The planned departure for this solo trip is the 11th September 2023, and you can follow my journey on my website (, YouTube (Wings Without Barriers) and Instagram (@wings_without_barriers).



“All my life I’ve been dreaming of flying. I want to open a school, to do something meaningful. I want to create opportunities.”
Adam Wiseman, RAAus Senior Instructor

“Making the impossible... Possible.”
Nathan Parker, RAAus Senior Instructor

Read more about Nathan's story:

  • Flying has always been Nathan's passion..

    Even as young as six years old, Nathan knew he wanted to be a pilot- specifically a fighter pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force.

    Nathan had his first flight at the controls of an aircraft at the age of 10 (after borrowing every cushion in the flight school so he could see over the panel) and hasn't looked back since.

    Nathan commenced his training in 2011, completing his first solo at 15, and obtaining his recreational licence at the age of 16 - before he was legally allowed to drive a car. 

    Nathan joined the RAAF in 2014 as a pilot trainee, moving him one step closer to his dream

    Re-Learning to Fly

    The accident, and loss of his hand, obviously impacted his ability to fly. There were even doubts that he would ever fly again. Despite this, returning to the air was a rehabilitation goal from day one.

    After being fitted with his advanced myoelectric hand, Nathan returned to the air shortly thereafter- only two months after the accident. Nathan went on to successfully regain his licence approximately six months after the bus rollover.

    Nathan currently holds a Commercial Pilot Licence with a number of endorsements, in addition to a Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating. In 2018, Nathan successfully became a recreational flight instructor, and now shares his passion with others as an RA-Aus Senior Instructor at the Northern Rivers Aero Club in Lismore. 

    In early 2021, Nathan had the incredible honour of being named as the 2020 CASA Wings Awards Young Achiever of the Year.

    For more information on Nathan Parker’s story visit his website:



Many organisations across Australia are providing resources to those who may need assistance or adaptions to make recreational aviation a more inclusive activity:

  • Merit Aviation

    In 2010, former Chief Flying Instructor of Merit Aviation, Sheldon Jones wrote to Aeroprakt in Ukraine about changing the control system on a Foxbat to allow the throttle lever to also operate the rudder pedals.

    The Foxbat has regular yoke control and normal rudder pedals, along with a throttle lever with a brake handle between the seats. When the hand-control is engaged, the throttle lever can also move left and right, moving the rudder pedals. The rudder pedals also work as normal, so the instructor always has full control. This allows individuals who don’t have use of their legs or feet to fly the aircraft. They can roll right up to the door in a wheelchair and “transfer” into the plane just like they would when getting in a car. The aircraft can be flown from the left or right seat, depending on the individual's capabilities with their arms. 

    The modified Foxbats are regularly used to conduct training for Wheelies with Wings.

    "Generally, if they can drive a car, then they can try the plane. Some people just want to enjoy the experience of flying without obtaining a pilot certificate, and that is no problem" Sheldon states.

    "It can be a wonderful motivator for someone who has experienced a life-changing event, and it has been a privilege to be able to give people that opportunity" - Sheldon Jones. 

  • Wheelies With Wings

    For aviation lovers who are confined to a wheelchair or have lower limb disabilities, experience the thrill of flight with Wheelies with Wings! They provide unique sponsorship opportunities that enable individuals with lower limb disabilities or those confined to a wheelchair to take to the skies.

    Wheelies with Wings aims to promote the rehabilitation of people living with physical disability, by creating a new horizon of achievement in life.

    To explore sponsorship opportunities jump onto the Wheelies with Wings website today!