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Tue, Aug 10, 2010

Flyabout An Australian Hit At Oshkosh

Father and Daughter Brave Outback In 4 Week Adventure

By Chris Batcheller

Oshkosh AirVenture is full of amazing stories. I had the pleasure of interviewing Monika Petrillo, the writer, producer and star of 'Flyabout', an amazing cross between a documentary and a diary as she discovers herself in the Australian Outback.

Monika didn't even know you could be a pilot until she met a flight instructor at a random party in Los Angles. Little did she know, she was embarking on an epic adventure.

Soon after, she passed her check ride and became a newly minted private pilot. Sharing the news with her dad in Germany, she was shocked when he told her that he wanted to be a pilot! He was soon on a flight to the states. Burning up vacation from work and sleeping on the floor of Monika's apartment, he also earned his wings.

That's where this amazing adventure begins. The pair decide to do something truly amazing, and they book a 4 week flying safari in Australia. As newbie pilots they circumnavigate the continent of Australia, and the movie Flyabout is born.

The movie didn't happen overnight. Monika told me "it took 7 years to edit and produce the movie". It seems her determination didn't stay in the outback. Starting a family ate into production time, but she kept at it. On her website she comments about the anchient Media 100 system that the movie was edited on. She said that she 'looks forward to giving the ancient editing system the burial that it richly deserves'.

Eventually the film premiered at the SXSW Film Festival on March 9, 2006 in Austin, TX. Monika didn't really intend to show the film at aviation events, but at the encouragement of her flying friends, 'Flyabout' made it's aviation premier at Oshkosh in 2008. Two years later, sales of the DVD are still strong with only a few copies left as I purchased my copy for Monika to autograph.

Flying a single engine Cessna around Australia is an epic adventure unto itself worthy of a film. The breathtaking scenes that only Australia can offer are littered throughout the film and the adventure of landing in the outback will have you arm chair flying the little Cessna onto the narrow dirt strip in a harrowing crosswind.

The movie is much more than just buzzing around the Australian outback. Monika brings a certain personal 'air' to the movie. You will live the personal journey that she makes, laughing and struggling as this 140 hour private pilot is challenged by the airplane, weather, and the reality of sharing the cockpit with her father.

'Flyabout' can be purchased from several aviation pilot stores and from The CD does not have a 'region' code and can be played worldwide.

'Flyabout' is a movie that you will treasure in your aviation library. And if you're into hunting for treasure, there may be a perfectly good Media 100 video editing machine waiting to be dug up.



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