Home - Flight School - Jabiru J160C - HISTORY - LSA Tyres

HISTORY             Last update  3/10/2018

Our little school stems from a three generation active interest in flying, spanning the years since 1946.
Here are a few shots from our archives of adventures and misadventures.   We hope you enjoy these snippets of aviation history in the Wagga area and of local pilots and their adventures.  

Click on any shot to enlarge.  


W H Treloar purchased a 90 horsepower RAF V8 powered DH6 in 1919 and proceeded to conduct a tour of northern Victoria and the Riverina.  As the tour was sure to generate wide attention, Harold was able to sell advertising space on the machine.  Good revenue was generated by selling "joy rides" at 2 pounds 2 shillings for a five or six mile flight.  Harold was possibly the prototype of the safe and sane commercial operator and his tour was completed in safety and with commercial success. The only damage of the tour occurred at Wagga, when a child put his foot through the wing fabric.

The sign writing is first rate and even today most of us will recognise a well known brand or two. Remember....click to enlarge !

NOT local history....but a great shot, eh?  Click to enlarge.

The Frog Hollow area north of Ashmont was at times used by aviators from the end of WW1.

Charles Kingsford Smith liked to use Bill Dunn's property on the Oura Road when passing through.  This property was bounded by the Oura Road/Patterson's Road intersection. On one occasion (1928 or later) a wheel was removed from SOUTHERN CROSS and brought into town for repairs.

Bert Hinkler visited Wagga at least once, landing at the showground.

From 1930, the Riverina Aero Club operated a De-Havilland 60 biplane, under the guidance of a local shire councillor, Hughie Condon.  Condon also happened to be the regional Examiner of Airmen, appointed by the Civil Aviation Branch, Dept. of Defence.

The Mount Austin area has seen some aviation activity.  A "temporary aerodrome" in the vicinity of the site now occupied by "The Haven", in Bourke Street, was used for the first regular scheduled services in 1936. 

Australian National Airways (ANA) operated the first regular scheduled service to Wagga.  The first arrival was on the 14th of December 1936 and the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the flight was hours late because of unfavourable weather.  At this early stage, the landing ground was a paddock in the area of southern Bourke St, possibly near the location of "The Haven".  The route was a "milk run", Essendon-Wagga-Canberra-Mascot.  The inaugural service was flown using DH89 Rapide VH-UFF.  On 29th of March 1937 it was reported that the service might not continue in winter, as several chains of the aerodrome was subject to inundation by water.  With the proposed introduction of the big Douglas machines on the direct Melbourne-Sydney run, ANA's two surviving DH86 Express machines would be released to be available for the "milk run".  ANA stated that "the margin of safety would not be met", using the DH86 at the temporary site.  The DH86s, VH-USW "LEPENA" and VH-UUB "LOILA", were, however, soon on the run and using the site with "extreme caution".  Indeed, on the 29th of December 1937, "LEPENA" was damaged at the temporary aerodrome "when the airliner was running in after making a normal landing".  The ARGUS of 6th of January 1938 reported that "LEPENA" "has been repaired and will return to Essendon".  It appears that the Wagga Municipal Council was then spurred into action to set up a new landing ground.
 VH-USW "LEPENA"  Shot taken at Duntroon airstrip, Canberra, January 1937.

On the 10th of October 1938 the Civilian Aerodrome on Hammond Avenue was opened on land owned by the Wagga Wagga Municipal Council and Kyeamba Shire.  An "air pageant" was held on this day to celebrate the opening. The pageant featured aerobatics by RAAF Hawker Demon biplanes.  Commercial pilot, Reg Hamblin, offered joy rides in his 3 seat Miles Falcon, and a group of aircraft from the Royal Aero Club of NSW arrived to support the event.

       The three gravel airstrips were variously 1200 to 1300 yards in length. The location is easily identified in 2018, being on the Sturt Highway, bordered by Lawson Street (Busabout), Tasman Road (roundabout), and a line running along the southern boundary of the Clay Target Association range (can be seen from Tasman Road).  The 'Airport Service Station' still stands (2018) across the road from the site of the single corrugated iron hangar.  The Wagga Municipal Council (not yet a city) built a brick control tower/ops room/terminal, next to the hangar.  Both these structures stood on what is now the Hartwig's Trucks site.  The terminal building was pushed over circa 2012.

       The southern 40% of the 'drome was not used because it was more prone to being waterlogged.  The three runways were all within the the northern 60%.

        By around 1940, Eric Condon was operating an Aeronca J.A.P. powered Hillson Praga machine from this venue.  During WW2 this 'drome was used as a satellite field for Forest Hill.  A communications flight was also based there.  This flight used mainly ex-civilian aircraft that had been impressed into military service by government decree. 

         Shortly after the war, all airline and most other civilian flying, was transferred to Forest Hill.  One RAAF Bellman Hangar at Forest Hill, number 204, was set aside for civilian use at that time.  Wagga and Kyeamba Councils would likely have been pleased to be rid of the responsibility for maintaining an aerodrome.  The last aircraft to use the site was a De-Havilland Beaver, of Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd, that was spreading superphosphate circa 1961.

Click to enlarge.
A clipping from the DA.  Praga aircraft made under licence by F. Hill and Sons in England.

Click to enlarge.
This is the "AIRPORT" service station. It still stands, in 2013, across the road from where the corrugated iron hangar and brick terminal/caretakers cottage stood. The terminal was basically a brick house with a neat 'control tower' section grafted into the roof. If you click to enlarge this 1946 Dept. of Lands map, you will see both the Forest Hill RAAF Station and the civilian aerodrome in Hammond Ave.  The RAAF Test Stand, north of the base, is an unexpected discovery.
Also of note is the "South Campus" of CSU, quite obviously a WW2 military hospital to anyone who has looked at the buildings. It was the RAAF hospital.

This section of the above map shows Wagga's other RAAF Base, Uranquinty.  A few miles to the West can be seen a "satellite" landing ground. Basic flying schools of WW2 used these as traffic relievers. Air traffic was intense at times!  At the western edge of the map is the fabled "bombing range".  Concrete "pillboxes" still stand on the site today (2013).  Observers scored bombing accuracy from these positions.


In 1946, a young plumber who had laboured, with his father, on the construction of Forest Hill RAAF Station, went to visit Eric Condon.  Eric had been a pre-war civilian pilot and wartime military flying instructor.  His visitor, Fred Burke, had a proposal.  Fred offered to be Eric's first student, if Eric set up a flying school.

A plan was agreed.  Eric would concentrate on getting the school up and running.  Fred would call a meeting to form an aero club, in effect, the social arm of the school.

Eric's school proved a great success and Fred was soon a pilot.  RAAF technical apprentices were a natural customer base, as were young locals, hungry for some thrills!  Soon Eric needed to acquire more Tiger-Moths to keep up with business.......and attrition!  In one terrible incident, junior instructor Gil McAinch, and student, were killed, when their Tiger-Moth dived vertically into the ground at very high speed.  It was widely thought that the student was mentally unsound and had "frozen" on the controls. It was said that the impact left the shape of the aircraft imprinted into the ground, at Shepherd's Siding.

One disappointment for Eric was his attempt to start a charter service using a war surplus Avro Anson.  The authorities just wouldn't "wear it" and the poor old Anson was left to rot near the entrance to Albury Aerodrome.  The authorities probably already had their suspicions about the glues used in the Anson's wooden wing structure.

Eric Condon died suddenly, of natural causes, in 1955.

Don Kendell
Around 1951, a young farmer named Don Kendell arrived at the hangar, looking to learn to fly.  After training with Eric, Don moved to the UK, where he flew airliners.  During the sixties he returned to Wagga and established Premiair Aviation, offering air charter services and flight instruction.  Later, around 1971, he took over the Wagga - Melbourne service from Ansett.  He used Piper Navajo aircraft, as opposed to the DC3s used previously.  The direct operating costs were considerably lower.  Don's wife, Eilish, ran the booking office in town, while Don did the flying and carried the luggage.  With this low cost structure and Don's ongoing attention to detail, the venture was very successful.  Today, Don's work continues...as Regional Express, REX.

Members of the recently formed Wagga Aero Club gather in front of Eric Condon's Avro Anson at Forest Hill in 1946.   This was the second Aero Club at Wagga.   Rosie (centre, front row) enjoyed a flight in our Jabiru, sixty three years later.

Eric Condon discusses the finer points with some adoring students.  The De-Havilland Tiger Moth biplane was readily available as ex-military surplus in the post war years. It was by far the most widely used machine at this time, as private/club flying became popular and affordable.


A day of joy riding at Lockhart on 28th December 1948 went wrong for Fred. He managed to stall CAC Wackett VH-AFD, on climb out.  At the time, Fred was working for
Australian National Airways.  The Wackett was no hot-rod with the 165HP Warner Scarab radial, and would have required careful handling on a hot summer's day, especially with
two paying passengers in the single rear seat.  After the impact, one of the passengers, Colin Smith, was able to get Fred out of the bent cockpit and drag him away from the
wreck, which then burst into flames.  When the meat wagon arrived, the medics assumed Fred would not make it, because he had severe head injuries and was unconscious. 
Fred spent the next year learning to walk, and getting his eyes to work properly.

Scrapping of surplus RAAF aircraft post 1945

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Sturt Highway at top right. Guard House (now the museum) is at top centre. Aircraft are parked on what is now the golf course.
Types scrapped at Wagga include DAP Beaufort, DAP Beaufighter, Curtiss Kittyhawk and Vultee Vengeance.  Two hundred and four aircraft in this view but lots more were here and also at the western end near Elizabeth Ave.

These Vultee Vengeance dive bombers were melted down by metal recycler, R H Grant Trading Co. Ltd.  Bert Winnell ran the operation at Forest Hill. Scrapping wound down circa 1960.


This magnificent 1957 shot captures F C "Chris" Braund, carrying out one of his legendary beat ups, in the EWA rain making Hudson.
To position the aircraft in 2018, imagine the Control tower being behind the aircraft. What we now know as taxiway Charlie and
runway 05/23 can be seen in the background. Shot from the observation deck on the roof of the RAAF control tower.
Photo: East-West Airlines via Phil Vabre

Heavy metal at Forest Hill on 6th July 1957. This great shot (stolen from another site!) shows a Flying Tiger Line DC4 delivering migrants from Europe. 
The Ansett Convair Metropolitan, seen in the background, operated daily RPT services until 1960.
Chipmunk VH-RVV was up from Royal Vic at Moorabbin, flown by Barrie Colledge.

Between 1957 and 1962 Fred (Agricultural Aviation) operated Tiger Moth and Cessna 180 aircraft from Bruce Brown's paddock beside Lake Albert Road.  Take-offs were commenced next to the TOP SHOP (at the bottom of Baden Powell Drive) and ran South East through what is now the STURT PRIMARY SCHOOL and White Avenue.
Click to enlarge.
Lake Albert Road action, 1959.  Geoffrey Jones uses the handy water trough to top-off another forty gallon spray mix in Agricultural Aviation Tiger-Moth VH-BXF.  The site is now occupied by Sturt Primary School.  Lord Baden Powell Drive can be seen in the background.

This January 1960 shot is looking the opposite way, from the Lake Road fence through the future White Avenue, Simkin Crescent, Fay Avenue and out toward Gregadoo.  Newly imported Cessna 180 VH-TTV is for Tumut Air Taxis.  Not sure about the sandals.....



This Jeep...complete with wind-sock...is CRANE NO.1 of Air-Griculture Control Pty Ltd.  This was the first mechanised superphosphate loader.  Movietone cameraman on the job.

A Fox Movietone cameraman records Bob Pairman demonstrating the new business of spreading superphosphate by aircraft.  1/5/1952 at Merriman's property via Yass.

Sel Cleary inspects the damage after the Tiger Moth of Bill Melius attacked Fred's machine at Myles property, Uriara ACT in 1952.  Air-Griculture Control Pty Ltd.

Here is a later Jeep Tiger-Moth loader.  It is still a three person operation but it incorporates a blade to scoop bulk superphosphate off the ground.  The move away from bagged super had began.
The Tigers stood up well, except for the end fittings of the undercarriage. These were remade in steel, to handle the overweight take-off runs.


Fred was ferrying VH-PCP from Bankstown when the crank snapped near Goulburn.  A "BLITZ" crane was despatched with a replacement Gypsy Major and prop.  Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd.


Here is VH-AAI at Forest Hill in November 1960.   Bedford loader at Forest Hill, November 1960.   Another one at Hammond Ave, Civil Drome, 1961.

By 1956, Tom Watson was on the lookout for a replacement for the Tigers operated by his firm, Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd of Bankstown.
After considering the available types, he settled on the De-Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver.  Some advantages of the Beaver were it's construction (no wood or fabric), supercharged Wasp Junior powerplant (to combat the negative effects on payload and climb caused by density altitude), a payload four times that of the Tiger, and a five year history of successful operation in New Zealand.

With financial backing from ex- taxi driver and now successful car dealer, Fred Sutton, a new Beaver was purchased.  VH-AAI arrived in May 1957.  The beaver required a more capable loader, so Aerial Ag came up with a fully hydraulic model, built on a Bedford truck and using the cab from an Austin ute.


Laurie Crowley (Crowley Airways) strikes trouble during the 1954 REDEX around Australia Trial. Laurie performed in depth surgery on the Gypsy Major power plant, using a hammer, chisel and shifting spanner.  A replacement cylinder and con-rod was air dropped from a passing air liner.  The drop included two bottles of beer....one of which broke.   Laurie reported that, by the end of the trial,  the rear fuselage was coming loose, because "the glue was no good".  In 2013, Crowley Airways are still servicing and operating small aircraft at "Victoria Park" near Old Junee.   Percival Gull VH-UTP is going strong also !

Dragged down by thistles!  Roto NSW 1955.  VH-PCA of Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd.  This happened with a full hopper load of chemical, heavily diluted with distillate (diesel fuel).   The Tiger-Moth was one of the safer machines to prang, safer than the majority of it's replacements.  There was no electrical system to ignite a post-crash fire, so Fred escaped without a scratch.  Of note in the cockpit shot is the utterly useless fire extinguisher!

Forest Hill in November 1960 with an impressive line-up of period agricultural aircraft parked where the SAABs now pull up.


1961  Forest Hill.  This Zlin 326 Trener Master flown by Jiri Blaha introduced GYROSCOPIC TUMBLING aerobatics to Australia.  The stunning display of negative G low level aerobatics was the highlight of a sales tour of Czechoslovakian aircraft, the other machines being the Meta Sokol and the elegant Morava L-200 twin.  A future Jabiru operator seems to be hogging the limelight in a couple of these shots.


The RAAF's first helicopter.  Sikorsky S51 A80-1 at Forest Hill.  The machine arrived in Australia in 1947.

The RAAF's first jet aircraft.  De Havilland Vampire A78-1 at Forest Hill.   This machine also arrived in 1947....a big year for new technology!


Cessna 180 VH-TTU of Tumut Air Taxis has just "got away" and bolted down the airstrip towards the creek.  Luckily the tail-wheel snapped off and the leg plowed in, stopping the machine.  Did you forget the park brake and chocks, Fred? Note tail-wheel and steering cables on tail-plane.  Bill Gill was killed in this aircraft whilst topdressing on the 21st of January 1961.   Right. Drums of water to balance the half ton of superphosphate in the bucket.


Training aircraft, 1950's style. This Beautiful De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Chipmunk VH-MCC was at our hangar on 4/3/2011.  This was the first chippy in country, arriving in 1947 as VH-BFT.

7th April 1962, Forest Hill. Chipmunk VH-WFC got the tree, the telephone wires AND the railway line at the Eastern end of runway 05. Neil Whybrow and student Kevin Walters got out OK and posed for a happy snap by photojournalist Tom Lennon.  Dennis Tullberg legged it to the scene with that heavy extinguisher.  Dennis is still flying at Wagga (2018) and Kevin Walters runs a flying school in Queensland.

BEFORE   Our second Tiger-Moth, VH-FBT, had at one time been on strength with the United States Army Air Force.....quite unusual for a Tiger.  It is seen here spraying on "Den-Hills", Gregadoo Road...about two miles South of Forest Hill, circa 1960.  Pix at right taken near Old Junee in 1959.

AFTER   Wire strike..... with backwards landing.  The newly fitted overturn truss worked as advertised.  Beside The Gap Rd, North of Wagga, August 1963.  

LATER THAT DAY ...job completed using the new YEOMAN CROPMASTER, VH-FPB.  We were fond of the Australian built Cropmaster, but thought Fred would kill himself in it.  The soft wet farm strips that we used in winter, were always threatening to upend the machine because the wheels were not far enough forward.  One day, when operating out of the old Uranquinty RAAF base, the spray pump fan shattered and a blade came up through the cockpit. The sporty Cropmaster was not the answer for us.

The government ordered that Tiger Moth agricultural operations must cease by the end of 1965.  The Piper Pawnee was known to be a good money making spray aircraft but we ruled it out because it usually burst into flames after crashing. Good pilots were dying in survivable accidents.

For operational safety we needed a slow flying biplane.  A firm at Archerfield was representing Grumman and had ordered a new Ag-Cat (VH-CCG S/N 210). Although our Cropmaster had only done the 1963 winter and spring spraying season, Fred was keen to try out the demonstration Ag-Cat as 1964 dawned.  He placed an order and in August '64 VH-FPB S/N 263 went into service.  It is still with us....taking up hangar space.
  In 1966 we got another new Ag-Cat, VH-FPA ( later VH-FBA ) S/N 397. 

Newly delivered VH-FPB over Wagga Racecourse in 1964.           At Forest Hill.

FBA is seen here spraying cotton at Maude NSW in Feb 1967.               Marty Holloway runs up VH-FBA after an engine change.

Checking checking the smoke oil prior to a days spraying.

  This happened one mile south of Forest Hill Aerodrome.

The Agwagon was heavy, as Terry Walsh had just picked up another load.  Approaching Elizabeth Ave and travelling East on the first run, Terry pulled up to clear wires that ran along the roadway.
The pitch-up was started slightly late, considering the heavy load, and the aircraft was rolled into the turn prematurely.
A wing tip caught a wire...and she cartwheeled in.  Doug Brunskill was under the aircraft as it caught the wire.  He dashed to the wreckage and assisted a badly knocked about Terry to get free.


ONCE UPON A TIME we flew these.  Robertson STOL B1-RD, powered by a grunty Cuyuna UL2-02 two stroke.  Fully equipped with plastic dirt bike fuel tank plus Skyway plastic BMX wheels (no bearings) and instrumented with a plastic shield (for looking through) plus a convenient on/off switch.   Veteran local pilot Bob Phillips, once managed to crash this machine on Elizabeth Ave, at the entrance to the aerodrome.

AMBULANCE FLIGHT    Jabiru to the rescue!

We were mustering cattle 100 miles North of Broken Hill, at Border Downs, when one of the blokes was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident.
After administering morphine, we got our patient into the Jabiru for the run to Broken Hill.
In this shot, paramedics are assisting him out of the aircraft at the RFDS base.  The ambos were expecting a King Air to deliver their patient, and were most impressed when a little Jabiru turned up.


Engine seized. Prop disappeared.  Lots of smug looks there, boys.