Tasmanian aero club turns 90 years old

90TH BIRTHDAY: The Tasmanian Aero Club was founded in 1927. Picture: Paul Scambler
90TH BIRTHDAY: The Tasmanian Aero Club was founded in 1927. Picture: Paul Scambler

The Tasmanian Aero Club turned 90 years old in September, signifying nine decades of aerial training at the Western Junction site.

The club was formed on September 26, 1927, with Western Junction chosen as the ideal site for the club’s formation.

However, it took until 1930 for the aero club hangar to be built by the Australian Department of Defence.

The club was also gifted two Gypsy Moss planes by the Defence Department in 1930, with the first flight at the club taking place shortly after.

The first commercial flight was in January 1931, with Sir Charles Kingsford Smith dropping by in an Avro 10.

After its establishment, the aero club became a key training centre for would-be Tasmanian pilots. 

The club played an important part in training pilots for both the private and public sector, with many of its students fighting for the Royal Australian Air Force.

However, the club is no longer able to provide full General Aviation training that is required to work as a commercial pilot. 

Tighter regulations have thrown many aero clubs in a tailspin throughout the country, with a reported 61 per cent of small aerodromes running at a loss.

The result is that the club only offers recreational pilot licence training and very basic commercial training.

Club chairman Lindsay Millar said the club, like many regional aero clubs, is finding it difficult to survive. 

“The club’s at a very low ebb at the moment because of all the regulations – we’re battling to survive,” Mr Millar said.

“We’re back to basic training with recreational flying, but the government is in the process of pushing all General Aviation training away from aero clubs.

“A club now needs a trained instructor and a chief flying instructor that is permanent, and that will cost you $150,000 a year.

“[The government are] trying to force all General Aviation training into metro schools.”

The regulations currently in place will likely spell the end for many regional flying clubs, including our very own Tasmanian Aero Club, according to Mr Millar.

Whether or not the club makes it to its 100th year anniversary is anyone’s guess.