From Tai Chi to Tiger Moth

By Neil Wilson

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tai chi bribie island

Tags: Tai Chi. Relaxation exercises. Exercise. Bribie Island. Martial arts. Tiger Moth. Aircraft Joy Flights. Airplanes.

In the Air

with PAM FARRAR and THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (From Tai Chi to a Tiger Moth)

For our April “In The Air” feature, we take a look at the circumstances that led to well known Bribie Island Tai Chi instructor Pam Farrar deciding to buy that almost as well known yellow Tiger Moth that can regularly be seen in the skies above the island and which Pam has christened, “The Barefoot Contessa.” Pam and her late husband Frank came to Australia in February 1967 after they had both been employed by British Airways, Frank as a pilot and Pam as a stewardess. Pam, who was actually born in Bavaria to an English mother and a German father with some Jewish heritage, told me some interesting facts about her childhood.

Featured Image(above): Tai Chi instructor and Tiger Moth enthusiast, Pam Farrar holds her free classes at Banksia Beach

‘I was christened Maria, my father was Count Leo von Meuter and my parents knew people such as Adolf Hitler and Herman Goering,’ Pam explained. ‘My mother Doris was friends with Adolf Hitler’s girlfriend Eva Braun and they would often play the piano together,’ she said. Pam told me that, due to the Jewish heritage in her father’s family, when World War II broke out, her mother wisely took her to England where, after having her name changed to Pamela, she was to spend the remainder of her childhood and many years of her adult life. When Pam and Frank landed in Australia, they settled in Cairns where they operated a motel until selling it to a member of the Ashton family (of Ashton’s Circus fame) and moving to Brisbane.

tiger moth

The Barefoot Contessa is a familiar sight in our skies

The couple purchased a snack bar in the city and this was to be their last venture prior to retirement and their move to Woodford and then to Bribie Island some thirty years ago. Prior to becoming a member of our community, Pam had attended the Tai Chi Academy of Australia where she had attained her qualifications as an instructor and has since become what I would describe as an icon of the island with her free waterfront Tai Chi classes each Tuesday and Saturday.

My Tai Chi classes are always very well attended and I now have about one hundred students,’ said Pam. ‘As a matter of fact, it was because a student treated me to a joy flight in a Tiger Moth about ten years ago that I made the decision to purchase the Contessa. The owner of Aero Dynamic Flight Academy, Brian Carpenter, helped me to arrange the purchase of the aircraft from someone on the Sunshine Coast.

She added. Pam said that although she did commence flying lessons, a heart condition prevented her from being allowed to hold a pilot’s licence so she decided to place her beloved Tiger Moth in the very capable hands of Nick Maylor, one of the instructors at the academy. ‘Nick, who Pam told me is a great pilot and instructor, recalled when he took Pam on her joy flight. ‘Pam was absolutely blown away by the experience and she couldn’t wipe the smile off her face,’ said Nick.

‘When I take her up in the Contessa, it doesn’t matter what I do, whether it is spins or loops, she just loves it,’ he said. When I asked Pam about how the little plane earned its name, she pointed out that, if she wanted to she was entitled to use the title Countess. ‘I never use the title but, when I bought the Tiger Moth, I combined the Italian word for countess with the fact that I drive barefoot,’ she told me.

‘From then on, the plane was christened, “The Barefoot Contessa,”’ Pam said. The ‘Barefoot Contessa” and pilot Nick Maylor can both be found at the Caboolture based Aero Dynamic Flight Academy and a phone call to 5428 1195 is all that you need to do if you would like to experience the joy of a flight in the Tiger Moth and, as Pam Farrar has done, fall in love with open cockpit aviation.

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A highly successful sales and leadership career working in a number of different and very competitive industries. Engaging with decision makers at all levels in business and government. Three decades employed by corporations, SME businesses in senior roles and almost twelve years operating as a freelance contractor has equipped me well for all aspects of business. Whether leading and mentoring sales teams, or in a direct sales role I enjoy the challenge to meet and exceed expectations. Making a real and tangible difference in either a team environment or as an individual is an important personal goal I have consistently achieved throughout my career. In all of my business and personal dealings over the years there is one issue that stands out above all others - communication. Excellent communication skills creates trust, helps with mutually beneficial outcomes and above all cements long lasting positive relationships. I strive everyday to communicate effectively with the people I encounter.