Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla's aviation boon

A $210,000 grant will allow improvements to the Benalla Airport.

ANGELA TOWNSEND January 9, 2013 4:57am

Minister for Aviation Gordon Rich-Phillips (on wing) with Mark Carr (seated), Doug Williams (left) and Terry Kay.

Aviation Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips made a flying visit to Benalla on Monday to announce a Victorian Government Regional Aviation Fund grant of $210000.

This will allow for upgrades to the terminal, taxi ways, drainage infrastructure improvements and support for the Benalla Aviation Museum to secure a shed.

The minister, who holds a pilot licence, also officially opened the National Gliding Championships at Benalla.

The aerodrome is home to the state’s gliding community and the Victorian Gliding Club is one of the oldest aero clubs in the country, having been operating for more than 83 years — the past 60 at Benalla.

Mr Rich-Phillips said the funding would improve the aerodrome’s infrastructure to secure future rounds of the National Gliding Championships.

‘‘The championships attract competitors from around Australia and overseas and provide a valuable boost to tourism and the local economy, especially the accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors,’’ Mr Rich-Phillips said.

‘‘This funding will help cover the cost of infrastructure upgrades that the aerodrome would not otherwise have been able to afford.’’

The GCV hosted the 1987 World Gliding Championships and has put in a bid to host a future world championship at Benalla.

The funds will be used to:

construct a dam and detention basin to expand existing airfield drainage;

seal internal access tracks;

refurbish the airport terminal including emergency patient transfer facilities;

upgrade electricals;

relocate an onsite museum hangar; and

upgrade cones, markers and aircraft tie-downs to CASA standards.

State Member for Benalla Bill Sykes discussed the need for improvements to the Benalla Aerodrome with the minister when he visited last April.

‘‘I am delighted the minister has agreed to fund these upgrades, which will vastly improve the amenity of the airfield,’’ Dr Sykes said.

‘‘The improvements will support the economic development of the north-east and will help make gliding more attractive to the wider community.’’

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