When Amellia Formby decided to pursue a career in Zoology, she was seven years old. She had no idea this would one day lead her to pursuing a 12,500 kilometre flight from Australia to Siberia in a microlight aircraft.
But this is what the UWA School of Biological Sciences Technician is currently training for in a bid to promote urgent action to save shorebird habitat along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
Amellia always knew she had a love for animals, but was never one of those kids who dreamt of being a pilot.
She says the idea first struck when she was driving to Bunnings after speaking with a friend about learning to fly a microlight.
“I have always been passionate about conservation, but my love for shorebirds first developed while volunteering for Birdlife Australia in 2014.
“That passion has compelled me to do something that will draw attention to saving shorebirds like the Far Eastern Curlew and the Curlew Sandpiper from extinction.
“I love flying and my goal is to develop my solo-flying skills so in 2022 I can complete the same flight path as the birds," she said.
Along the way Amellia will stop at major shorebird sites in the Flyway to conduct further research about the behavioural ecology of shorebird migration and produce a documentary film.
“I’ve received strong support from my flight instructor Gordon Marshall. He’s gone through the logistics of the project – advising on the hours of training required, the equipment to buy, safety considerations, navigation software and the risks involved.
“People often remark that I’m brave flying a microlight, but having the courage to put myself out there and ask for help to achieve this goal is the most confronting part,” Amellia said.
She has launched the Wing Threads project with Crowd Research at UWA’s Office of Research Enterprise and is working towards her goal of $70,000 to purchase an aircraft.
“When I look at how far I’ve come since first proposing this last April, my confidence has grown so much and the support I‘ve received is incredible.”
Amellia reflects on the comment made by the first female aviator to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart. She summed it up best in her quote:
‘The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do.’
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