Meet our ‘High-Flyer’ John Dyer Managing Director of Air Adventure Australia.
Since 1977 Air Adventure Australia has catered for the young at heart looking for high-quality, enriching Australian outback escapes. We caught up with John Dyer, Air Adventures Managing Director to find out the most memorable customer experiences he’s provided and what’s in store for 2018…
How long have you been in the aviation and travel industry?
Technically, I started working at Air Adventure in 2004. However, being a family business, I was basically born into Air Adventure. My father was a farmer and bush pilot who made the transition into tourism in 1977. He was equipped with his own plane and the passion to share his adventures so he started to fly people from the farm in Western Victoria to his cattle station ‘Ellenbrae’ up in the Kimberley, WA. That’s when the light bulb went off for him and Air Adventure was born.
How did you first get involved?
As free child labour! Like in any family business, everyone gets involved. Whether it was on the farm and it was shearing time, or time to pack Air Adventure brochures – it was all hands on deck. The payoff for me was getting to sit in the co-pilot seat of the Cessna 210 as Dad flew all over Australia, surveying new places to add to Air Adventure air safari itineraries. Whenever Dad was flying a plane, I wanted to be involved.
What or who inspired you to pursue a career in travel and aviation industry?
I knew that I wasn’t going to be a (good) farmer, I enjoyed being on the land but didn’t like the fact that you can do everything right, but the weather can take it all away from you. I saw getting into the tourism industry as the freedom to go whatever direction I wanted to. Ever since I was small, I could see how much Dad loved travel and interacting with customers and I had a love for flying and I knew that I wanted to get involved somehow – it was the love of aviation that inspired me to take on Air Adventure.
What advice would you give someone looking to pursue a career in travel/aviation industry?
There has never been a better time to get involved, tourism is a booming sector. There are many facets to the industry so have a think about where you want your career in tourism to take you, then plan a pathway to get there.
Tell us a little about destinations and organised tours Air Adventure offer, in particular from Essendon Fields Airport?
Air Adventure specialises in flying small groups to some of Australia’s most hard to reach and remote destinations. Think: The Kimberley, Pilbara, Cape York, Torres Strait, Bass Strait Islands, The Gulf Country, Red Centre and so many more. 95% of our air safaris depart ex Essendon Fields Airport and have been doing so since the 1990s. We fly Cessna Conquest aircraft that are comfortable, very fast but most importantly can easily land on outback runways. In some cases we land literally 50 metres from the homestead of the cattle station we are visiting (for e.g. Bullo River Station NT).
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
I used to spend at least 6 months of the year away and out on tour. However my role has definitely changed in the last few years. I am much more operations focussed these days: planning, scheduling and liaising with pilots and tour leaders prior to them going out in the field. I also manage our awesome office-based team and oversee sales, marketing and finance.
What has been the most memorable experience you’ve provided to a customer and what made it so special?
There has been so many, but one of my favourite things to do is to read the comments from passengers returning home after a tour. I never get sick of reading “That’s the best holiday I’ve ever had” or “This is the best thing we have done in our lives.” Specifically, I will never forget landing at the Mitchell Plateau airstrip, walking off our aeroplane and into a helicopter, the chopper then took us out over the Mitchell Falls, through a gorge and then out to sea where we landed on the helipad of The Great Escape cruise ship off the Kimberley Coast. I was sitting next to one of our guests, his camera was clicking away like mad and we were high-fiving like footy players. It was such a high – truly an awesome experience. The great thing about Air Adventure is that we enable people to see so much – through private aviation.
What next for Air Adventure in 2018?
Over the last few years we have been building on our sub brand – Air Adventure Golf Tours. We now specialise in flying golfers from Essendon Fields Airport direct to Barnbougle and King Island down in Bass Strait. In our first season we took 30 golfers, we now carry over 1,500 each season. We have now begun to create some exciting golf events, the EF Classic being one of them, which was held in February this year and raised over $13K for Make-A-Wish. Just on the horizon we have the inaugural Air Adventure King Island Pro–Am which is a sanctioned PGA event and part of the Ladbrokes tour series. It will be held on King Island in May 2018. We now have 100 golfers booked so it will be huge! Aside from that I am looking forward to creating some new air safari itineraries for the 2019 outback season.
At Essendon Fields, we believe in doing things ‘the better way’ can you explain how you apply this?
Everything about Air Adventure is ‘the better way’… You could see outback Australia by road, however you spend most of your time sitting on the bus watching the white line on the road zip past for hours on end. Seeing Australia by private aircraft is most definitely the better way – you spend way less time in transit and more time exploring your destination. In fact, there is no better way to do it – it hasn’t been invented yet.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the community at Essendon Fields?
It has been great to see the development of the Essendon Fields precinct. When we were first flying out of Essendon it was basically a barren car park. Now there is La Manna, Hyatt Place (which is awesome for our interstate and international passengers) and thankfully Mr McCracken bar: we now have a great place to meet with industry peers and the EF community in general.
What’s your favourite joke?
“Man blames fate for other accidents but feels personally responsible for a hole in one” – Unknown