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HISTORY OF THE KEMPSEY FLYING CLUB

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On the 25th September 1961, seven local pilots plus the proprietor of the local travel agency formed a company limited by guarantee called “Kempsey Flying Club Limited", the registered office of which was at Kempsey Airport. “The Office” consisted of half a machinery shed rented from the D.C.A. (Department of Civil Aviation) for a peppercorn rental.


Having no aircraft or capital, flying training was carried out by Hastings District Flying Club when an instructor and aircraft visited Kempsey. Aircraft were also, on occasions, hired from Coffs Harbour.


Early in 1966 a decision was made to build a hangar ready for the purchase of an aircraft. A pre-cut steel frame was purchased from Newcastle and all erection and completion was carried out by voluntary labour the first sod for the foundation was turned by the then Governor General, His Excellency the Right Honourable Lord Casey in April 1966.


The first aircraft a Cessna 172A, VH-RLZ was purchased on the 9th December 1966 for $6,750. The hire rate was set at $15 per hour.


In November 1967 an instructor was employed and the club operated as a flying school until 1973 when the instructor’s employment was terminated. From that time until the present, the club has operated its aircraft on a private hire basis only.


The club purchased a second aircraft, a Cessna 182G VH-AVK, on the 8th August 1971 for $10,000, but due to insufficient utilization and the expiry of the engine life with lack of capital for its overhaul it was sold on the 12th February 1974 for $8,200.


VH-TNG, a Cessna 172G, was purchased on the 17th March 1976 for $12,500. This replaced old faithful VH-RLZ which was sold on the 26th April 1976 for $6,000. After having served the club well for two years VH-TNG was sold on the 4th February 1978 for $13,000 and replaced by VH-TDK, a Cessna 172M on the 10th February 1978 at a cost of $23,250. This has proved to be an excellent aircraft and was repainted and refurbished in its factory original colour scheme.


Pilots from the club competed in both NSW Air Races held in 1973 and 1975.


In October 1982 a very successful Airshow was organized by the club which netted almost $14,500. This was immediately put to good use building a new clubhouse. Once again voluntary labour enabled this building to be officially opened on the 27th October, 1989 by Wing Commander A W Titheridge Commanding Officer of 97 Squadron Williamtown, completely free of debt.


Another Airshow was organized in October 1986 in conjunction with Kempsey’s sesqui-centenary celebrations.


Mobil Australia offered the use of the avgas fuel installation to the club in 1974 as Mobil considered there was not enough throughput to warrant an agent. The club took up this offer and on payment of $2,000 towards the updating of the installation, entered an agreement with Mobil. The Club owned the fuel in stock while Mobil maintained the installation. During 1986, due to distribution problems, Mobil transferred to ownership of the fuel installation to BP Australia, but the Club’s arrangement continued as before. The Club still owns the fuel in stock.


During 1968 the Club Pilots organized a Shark Patrol of the local beaches. This operated in December and January each year and was still maintained in 1990. Beaches patrolled were from Point Plummer south of Crescent Head to Scotts Head in the north.


An inter-club competition week-end is held with Armidale twice yearly alternating between bases. The beginning of these competitions came about as a memorial to Robert Cumming a local boy who learned to fly with the Club who went on to become an instructor at Armidale and was killed in a mid air collision over Bankstown while training for an instrument rating. The possession of the “Robert Cumming Memorial Shield” is the aim of each club on these weekends.


Of the eight original foundation members in 1961, five were still flying members of the club in 1990.


Unfortunately the Shark Patrol finally succumbed to the times and the growing real fear of litigation in 1996.


In more recent years the club has hosted The Auster Fly-In, a Static Display in March 1997, Vintage Aircraft and Club Open Day in March 1998, Fly-in Breakfast in October 2000, Inter Club Flying Comp March 2005 and the Great Eastern Fly In December 2006.


There have been numerous small Fly in Breakfasts, the Annual Comp twice yearly with Armidale and comps with Coffs Harbour and Hastings.


Excursions have also been a highlight, there have been trips to Narromine Fly In, Bellbrook Pub for Christmas in August, Hunter Valley Wines, Kunderang Homestead, Ross Glen, Cowra Inter Club Flying Comp.


VH-TDK still remains as the Club Aircraft and is in excellent condition for use by Club Members and others.


18 October 1930

The Department of Defense approved the site at Aldavilla on the Sherwood Road for development of an aerodrome for all types of present aircraft. When the work is finished, the department will issue an official aerodrome license. The department has advised the Kempsey Municipal Council (which has been in the forefront of this matter) to acquire rights to adjoining properties to provide for future expansion when larger aircraft come to Australia.


7 December 1936

The Aldavilla aerodrome was officially opened on Saturday by the minister of defense the Hon H. V. C. Thorby. An aerial pageant was held during the day on the all over grassed aerodrome.


1 June 1953 - New ’drome opened
The newly-constructed Kempsey aerodrome was officially opened on Saturday by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. H. L. Anthony). The ‘drome cost £160,000 to construct, the breakdown being: 44 degree runway £69,000; landing strip and sealing at either end £25,000; apron and taxi-ways £5,000; area roads around the aerodrome £2,500; car park and access roads £3,000; passenger facilities (yet to be built) £1,500. The opening of the aerodrome was the first of the Coronation celebrations in the district. It was followed by a spectacular aerial pageant which drew a crowd of over 2000. Among those at the ceremony was a former mayor of Kempsey, Mr. Sam Lacey, now of Sydney. Some 20 years ago he took two departmental officers to Aldavilla to make a survey of the ‘drome site. Also present was Mr. A. J. Druitt, former town clerk (and an alert 88) who arranged for the resumption of the land.


Air Service 1 July 1953:
Butler Air Transport Ltd has recommenced its air service between Kempsey and Sydney. It landed a four-engine De Haviland Heron passenger plane on Kempsey aerodrome about

9.15am yesterday with 13 passengers aboard.


1958/59
Kempsey airport had a major upgrading with the existing gravel landing area being converted to an all weather bitumen strip. Kempsey airport was then on a par with all regional airports throughout Australia.


1 July 1975:
Kempsey airport was taken over by the Macleay River County Council from the Commonwealth Government.


12 May 1984:
It was announced that Kempsey airport would get navigational aids allowing night landings. Landing lights at the airport have been in operation for some years.


1986:
Kempsey airport became fully operational for night flying in 1986.


HISTORY OF KEMPSEY AIRPORT

18 October 1930:

The Department of Defense approved the site at Aldavilla on the Sherwood Road for development of an aerodrome for all types of present aircraft. When the work is finished, the department will issue an official aerodrome license.

The department has advised the Kempsey Municipal Council (which has been in the forefront of this matter) to acquire rights to adjoining properties to provide for future expansion when larger aircraft come to Australia.


7 December 1936:
The Aldavilla aerodrome was officially opened on Saturday by the minister of defense the Hon H. V. C. Thorby. An aerial pageant was held during the day on the all over grassed aerodrome.

1 June 1953: - New ’drome opened
The newly-constructed Kempsey aerodrome was officially opened on Saturday by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. H. L. Anthony). The ‘drome cost £160,000 to construct, the breakdown being: 44 degree runway £69,000; landing strip and sealing at either end £25,000; apron and taxi-ways £5,000; area roads around the aerodrome £2,500; car park and access roads £3,000; passenger facilities (yet to be built) £1,500. The opening of the aerodrome was the first of the Coronation celebrations in the district. It was followed by a spectacular aerial pageant which drew a crowd of over 2000. Among those at the ceremony was a former mayor of Kempsey, Mr. Sam Lacey, now of Sydney. Some 20 years ago he took two departmental officers to Aldavilla to make a survey of the ‘drome site. Also present was Mr. A. J. Druitt, former town clerk (and an alert 88) who arranged for the resumption of the land.


Air Service 1 July 1953:
Butler Air Transport Ltd has recommenced its air service between Kempsey and Sydney. It landed a four-engine De Haviland Heron passenger plane on Kempsey aerodrome about 9.15am yesterday with 13 passengers aboard.


1958/59:
Kempsey airport had a major upgrading with the existing gravel landing area being converted to an all weather bitumen strip. Kempsey airport was then on a par with all regional airports throughout Australia.

1 July 1975:
Kempsey airport was taken over by the Macleay River County Council from the Commonwealth Government.


12 May 1984:
It was announced that Kempsey airport would get navigational aids allowing night landings. Landing lights at the airport have been in operation for some years.


1986:
Kempsey airport became fully operational for night flying in 1986.


1st October 2016:
Wings Over Macleay is the first 2 day event of its kind for the Kempsey-Macleay area. Whilst the Kempsey Shire Council owned airport has been in operation since World War 2, it has recently undergone a $2.5 million upgrade to make it suitable to become a fully serviced Aviation Business Park. It is now ideally situated to host a regional air show There are currently several aviation related business operating at the airport. The popular Kempsey Flying Club, as well as local parachutists, use the site for their GA flying activities. It is also an important centre for the NSW Air Ambulance to service the Mid-North Coast region.