How Nat learnt to fly
Nat Fyfe’s career has taken flight in 2011 in just his second season in the AFL. When he’s not on an opponent’s shoulders taking a hanger, Fyfe can often be found in a hangar — at Jandakot Airport.
Freo young gun Nat Fyfe has been doing a fair bit of flying in 2011. He’s soared above packs to pluck mark after mark with his big hands, and he has sky-rocketed into Brownlow Medal calculations with a stunning second season of AFL footy.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that the 19-year-old is studying to further his aeronautical abilities — literally. He’s studying to become a helicopter pilot.
“I started my training with Rotorvation Helicopter Services back in March,” Fyfe says.
“Usually it only takes seven or eight months to finish, but because I’m playing footy at the same time, it’s going to take me a couple of years.”
Fyfe’s love for flying sprouted wings very early on in his life.
His first realisation that he wanted to take over the controls of an aircraft one day came when a family friend, who had his helicopter license, took Fyfe for a ride.
“I just fell in love with it,” Fyfe says.
“At school, when the question came up ‘what do you want to do when you’re older’, apart from footy, this was something that I was pretty keen on doing, so I investigated what I needed to do to get into it.”
Fyfe’s always had an eye on the sky, curiously gazing at passing aircraft and anything else that could fly.
“I’ve always been fascinated with planes and helicopters and flying,” he says.
“Now that I’ve started to travel a fair bit, flying over East to play, it’s something I really want to get into.
“I was lucky enough that the AFL and Freo helped me get a leg up into the industry.”
Fyfe is currently finishing the theory element of his training, which he is doing via correspondence.
“They give me the course and I go away and teach myself,” he says.
Fyfe has been doing most of his flight training during his time away from the football club or, ironically, on the plane after away games.
Once he feels confident enough to sit an exam, he is able to go and do it.
“I’ve just completed my first exam on aerodynamics,” he says.
“I passed, which is good.
“Now I’ll move on to part two, which is aircraft general knowledge.”
Fyfe says there isn’t much of a prerequisite for any aspiring aviators out there who want to fly.
“You don’t really need much at all,” he says. “Just a passion.”
Fyfe hails from the country town of Lake Grace in the South-West of WA and he wants to clear the air about what his family does for a living.
“It’s a common misconception that everyone from the country or outside of Perth are farmers. That’s not true in this case,” he says.
His parents run a transport business which he says has been a massive part of his life growing up.
“We have five trucks which we use to transport everything from sheep to water — everything you can think of basically,” he says.
He still heads down to Lake Grace every off-season to give his father a helping hand.
“We’ve always helped dad from a very young age,” he says.
“I’ve got my road-train licence so I do a bit of driving and I work with my brother pretty closely.
“It’s something that I love getting back to and doing.”
Fyfe says a typical day at work is fairly basic, but it’s good physical labour.
“If you’re looking at carting livestock, you go out and load up, take it to the destination and unload,” he says.
“It’s probably where I developed a work ethic early as a young kid.”
Fyfe says having the family business back home gives him a good fallback, post-footy.
“It’s something that I’m still passionate about,” he says.
“Whether I’ll go into it later in life is another question, but it’s something that I’ll definitely have a lot to do with all through my footy career.”
And he hasn’t decided exactly what he will do with his pilot’s license when his playing days are over, but there’s no shortage of options.
“There are a lot of avenues you can take with it — mustering of cattle and scenic flights, things like that,” he says.
“At the same time, I’d love to be able to use it for pleasure and just fly around Australia.”
For now, Fyfe is more than happy to keep earning his frequent flyer points on the footy field.