Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Tocumwal still flying high with championships

Sixteen pilots took to the skies for the Victorian Aerobatic Championships at Tocumwal last Thursday.

February 26, 2014 4:38am

Cass Moeller from Sydney was all systems go at the Aerobatic Championships in Tocumwal.

The Victorian Aerobatic Championships at Tocumwal got off to a flying start last Thursday, with 16 pilots taking to the skies for the three-day daredevil display.

The Murray Border Flying Club hosted the championships, held Thursday to Saturday, with competitors from Queensland, Victoria, NSW and South Australia flocking to the Murray River town for the event.

The championships have been held in Tocumwal for three consecutive years and club secretary Owen Peake said the 2014 event was ‘‘very successful’’ with approximately 60 people attending each day.

‘‘We’re doing our best to ensure they visit us again for the next Victorian Championships and the National Championships,’’ he said.

‘‘These events are very important to our club as fundraisers. We provide catering for evening meals and host a presentation dinner on Saturday night, with any proceeds going back into our facilities at the terminal building.

‘‘Over the last 12 months, with some assistance from the Berrigan Shire, we have installed three air conditioning units, restored the concrete paving around the terminal, replaced all of the chairs in the function room, along with many other small improvements.

‘‘Events like the Aerobatic Championships are very important to the general community of Tocumwal as well with extra money being spent in the town.’’

Mr Peake said the championships also brought a number of pilots with extensive careers and interesting tales to share.

‘‘We had a visit from a gentleman, Fred Hendy, who learnt to fly at the Murray Border club in 1964,’’ he said.

‘‘Fred is now 89 years of age and well remembers his first instructor Bob Barry, an ex-RAAF World War II pilot.

‘‘He learnt in a Victa Airtourer [aircraft] and went on to fly Cessna and Piper aircraft. He was farming for 70 years and enjoyed flying from his brother’s airstrip at Naring just south of the Murray River.’’

At the championships, Fred was re-acquainted with a CT4 aircraft, similar to the Victa Airtourer he learnt to fly in 1964.

Fred’s nephew Rob Hendy has a Rockwell Commander aircraft at Tocumwal aerodrome.

Sydney-siders Peter Townsend and Cass Moeller flew their bi-wing Pitts Special S2C aircraft at the event.

‘‘Cass is a commercial aerobatic pilot, co-director of the Australian Aerobatic Academy and a qualified formation pilot,’’ Mr Peake said.

‘‘She has a broad range of experience in general aviation and airline flight operations and holds degrees in Aeronautical Engineering & Commerce from the University of Sydney.

‘‘Peter is the Chief Flying Instructor, Chief Pilot and co-director of the Academy.

‘‘He has over 20 years of experience in the aviation industry, having learned and applied his skills at the Sydney Aerobatic School, where he was an aerobatic charter pilot and flight instructor for a number of years.

‘‘Peter holds a Bachelor of Aviation (Operations Management) from the University of NSW and has flown aircraft ranging from gliders to corporate jets.’’

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