The Life of Brian – Memorial Flying Scholarship Update

We told you previously about the initiative started by IFFR Australia to honour the past and look to the future with the launch of the Brian Condon Memorial Flying Scholarship, which aims to help one lucky young person launch into aviation through a $5,000 contribution towards the successful applicant’s recreational pilots licence. Mike McFarlane reports now that they have had a great response to the competition, with some amazingly interesting submissions from a good number of applicants. Judging is now underway, and Mike expects the winner to be announced shortly.

But in the meantime, let’s have a look at the Life of Brian and learn more about the scholarship’s namesake and his life-long love of aviation and Rotary. The following is taken from an article that first appeared in Rotary Down Under (the Australian version of Rotary magazine) generating great publicity for the Flying Rotarians, as well as for the scholarship programme.

Brian was a dedicated son, husband, father, brother, outstanding Rotarian, and a skilled aviator. His love of flying started when he was five years old. Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was doing joy flights in the Southern Cross (a Fokker F/VIIB 3 trimotor aircraft) to fundraise for his overseas ventures, and Brian had a flight with Smithy in Port Pirie, South Australia. In the 1980s he was also given an opportunity to fly in the Southern Cross replica. He was probably the only person to have ever flown in both of those planes; a feat not even Smithy achieved.

As a pilot, Brian’s greatest thrill in the skies was when he and wife Joyce had two separate flights on the Concorde from New York to London. On one of those, they were lucky enough to be invited to sit in the jump seats in the cockpit with the captain.

Brian was heavily involved in Rotary and with the Flying Rotarians. It was a huge part of his life, and he made so many lifelong friends along the way. He was still flying his beloved Cessna aircraft VH-WXM until he was 90 years of age!

Aviation has absolutely changed my life. The most significant thing in my life was learning to fly,” Brian said in 2016. “It hones your attitude to life. When you are up there in the three dimensions, you are in a different world.”

Brian amassed circa 3,400 hours as pilot-in-command after first learning to fly in 1968. He saw it as an efficient way to increase sales in the vast South Australian outback while working for Coca-Cola. He became a member of the Rotary Club of Port Pirie in 1958 and was president 1969-71. Brian received every Paul Harris Fellow award up to three rubies; the first in 1976.

Brian joined IFFR in 1972 and was World President from 1994-96. During his term of office, he travelled the world, including attending the Charter meeting of the IFFR Benelux Section in September 1994 in Midden Zeeland, Netherlands, in the company of members from Holland, Belgium, Germany and the UK (17 aircraft flew in). During the 1993 Rotary International Convention in Melbourne, Australia, Brian had met Stan Jesmiatka from Holland, and Brian, together with other IFFR members there, had helped persuade Stan of the benefits of having a Benelux section.

In 2003, Brian was honoured by the Australian Section of IFFR who presented him with the second of his three Paul Harris Ruby Awards at the Brisbane Rotary International Convention. In 2005, Brian wrote a history of IFFR Australia from 1970 to 2005. In 2007, he received the Order of Australia Medal for service to the community, particularly through the Rotary Club of Port Pirie and the IFFR.

The members of IFFR Australia are honoured to name their scholarship after this generous Rotarian and passionate aviator.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top