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About Us

The History Of FunFlight

Born from a drive to ‘do something good in the world’, the very first FunFlight event was hosted in 2007. From FunFlight founder, Michel Verheem:

“It started with an idea by my good friend Michael Loccisano to fly a small group of  5-10 kids with a disability around Port Philip Bay in Melbourne. Within 6 weeks it had grown into a miniature airshow at Tyabb Airport on the Mornington Peninsula. 130 kids and family members went flying that day. The event’s success encouraged us to make this an annual event.”


A year later, assisted by a very generous donation from the estate of Jon Burgess and support from KPMG, the registered charity: FunFlight was founded.

Since this humble beginning, we have flown almost 15,000 passengers!”  


Assisted by a very generous donation from the estate of Jon Burgess, and supported by KPMG, we established a registered charity: FunFlight.


This has only been possible with the support of hundreds of volunteers from aero clubs, pilot’s groups and commercial aviation organisations across Australia. It is their generosity that get these events ‘off the ground’. FunFlight facilitates events with a framework providing guidance for running events along with our safety standards. We also support events through sponsorship deals, connections with national charities, media coverage support.

FunFlight is proud to have already touched and inspired so many people. Our volunteers, partners and sponsors all make the world a better place, flight-by-flight. Everybody who has been involved in a FunFlight event has seen the smiles on the children’s faces and understood that they can and have, made difference. The FunFlight team thank our volunteers and sponsors and encourage you to go out and make a difference in the world.

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Meet The FunFlight Board


FunFlight is a not-for-profit, registered charity managed by Board of Directors. The Board is composed of members who come from a range of backgrounds and industries and who all volunteer their time and expertise.

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Michel Verheem

Director & Founder

I am immensely proud of what the FunFlight community has achieved since the very first event in 2007, and it is such a pleasure to see our volunteers grow into people that now themselves go out to motivate and inspire others.


My inspiration comes from the people around me, such as my wife Louise, her parents, and my mum. It comes from people who show that together we can make a positive difference in the lives of others.


In my daily life, I am the director of a small and specialised wayfinding consultancy operating from Australia, France, The Netherlands and Croatia. This keeps me pretty busy, but never too busy to not enjoy riding my BMW motorbike along as many winding roads as I can!

Marita Neilson


I'm a marketing director with over 20 years' experience in healthcare and medical device industries working in local markets (Asia Pacific and the Americas) and global roles. It's important to me to work on products and solutions that make meaningful improvements to people's lives.
I come from a family who have always been involved in supporting and giving-back to the community. Now settled and with a young family of my own, I want my children to grow-up with that same ethos. I'm honored to be associated with FunFlight where events bring joy to everyone involved. Even a day's relief from hardship can bring hope, strength and the knowledge that you're not alone.
When I'm not working, I enjoy hitting the gym, playing touch football, and spending time in nature: kayaking, hiking and camping.


Marita (Barraclough) Neilson | LinkedIn

Luke Bramston


I have a career that spans 30 years working in Hospitality, Food Service and Manufacturing, always about Food and always about Food Safety. Joining a company as business partner in the 1990’s, I developed it into a leading manufacturing business. I sold my share in 2008 and continued to work with the new owners until 2016. I began consulting to food-based manufacturers helping with process and product innovation. This led to my founding a new food innovation business in which I am still heavily involved.

Married and with 3 kids at school, like many other pilots I started learning to fly later in life (mid-40’s). A long-time desire to fly gained momentum after the kids finished school and business-life settled enough to provide time. 

I learnt to fly at Peninsula Aero Club (PAC), Tyabb, joining the PAC committee in 2016. I became a good friend of Jon Burgess (a major FunFlight benefactor) which led to me becoming a FunFlight Captain.  

Every time we take a child up for a FunFLight we can feel their excitement and joy. It is a great feeling to give back something to those less fortunate in such a unique way.

Sarah Wills


I have always been passionate about helping people and making a difference. At the start of my career, I was fortunate to work in aged care and the disability sector, which gave me an appreciation and respect for others that go through daily challenges.

I come with more than 12 years of experience in the Aviation Industry, having worked in a broad range of roles including Cabin Crew, Training and Organisational Safety and Risk Management. I am currently the Head of Risk and Assurance for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, providing oversight in Safety, Risk, and Quality Assurance.

I am passionate about inspiring and empowering people to drive optimum performance and enabling a strong safety culture. I am really excited to be part of the FunFlight Board, and with my experience, I am looking forward to continuing to put smiles on many faces.

Francine Michaelides


I am experienced in both B2C and B2B marketing specialising in go-to-market strategy, brand management, marketing automation, campaign management and events.

I am proud to be a board director of Marketing and PR at FunFlight, bringing smiles to children across Australia that truly deserve it. 

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