Royal Newcastle Aero Club

The Maitland move

Royal Newcastle Aero Club Flight Training Tiger Moth Joy FlightsIn 1960 a Cessna 182 joined the fleet, the first of a large number of Cessna aircraft, a type that would continue to serve the Club for many years. It was followed shortly after by a Cessna 172 but was badly damaged soon after arrival in an unfortunate accident, but was replaced eventually by more of these fast metal aircraft.

In 1960 the Aero Club Social Club obtained its liquor licence and part of the office building was converted to a small bar. A major social evening was held in the clubrooms to celebrate the occasion.

In 1961 the Club President, Howard Williams, resigned his position, because of many commitments, and the 5th President, R. (Robert) Russell was elected. During this period the Club was given notice by the then Department of Civil Aviation to quit the field at Broadmeadow because the area had become built out, plus high television antenna on the perimeter of the field interfered with landing approaches.

The Club Committee made the decision to begin transfer of all flying operations to Maitland and the eventual placement of a new Clubhouse and other buildings on the Maitland site.

Without any government help the large Bellman hangar was dissembled and transported to Maitland and re-erected. Smaller buildings such as the flight operations room were also transferred to the clubs new home base.

This year a number of Cessna 150 training aircraft were added to the fleet.

The transfer to Maitland was a gradual process, which took place over 2 years. Then in 1962 Stan Hone took over from Lou Plumstead as Chief flying Instructor. By 1963 the new HQ at Maitland was completed and the last aircraft flew out of the historic Broadmeadow field.

In 1965 a variety to the modern fleet the Club was now assembled with training revitalized in the clubs Cessna 150s. By 1966 the replacement of Cessna aircraft continued as new 172s came on line.

The Australian Light Aircraft Royal Federation of Aero Clubs championships were held at Maitland for the first time and the Royal Newcastle Club took out the championship. A highlight was the Clubs Formation Team flying Cessna 172s.

In 1966 a swimming pool for adults and children was installed as a further amenity for members and their families. Late in 1966 the Club suffered a blow when President Bob Russell fatally collapsed at the field after suffering a heart attack. Shortly after the Club also lost another senior member when Vice-President Bob Monty Montgomery passed away after illness.

The 6th President, J. (Jack) Fahey, Newcastle accountant, was elected.

In 1967 Club member Bernie Sarroff (BJ) received the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs medal for his services to the Aero Club movement.

In 1968 another airstrip was laid down. Maitland City Council assisted the Club with this project with the future of a commuter service for Maitland in mind. Also in 1968 the decision was made to hold one of the biggest air shows to be seen in the country up to this time. It would also celebrate the Clubs 40th Birthday.

The event took the shape of an Aviation Exposition covering all facets of flying in Australia. Titled Expo 68 this great pageant showed all the new aircraft current at the time; vintage aircraft; parachuting; gliding; stunt flying, etc. It was staged over a 6-day period and consisted of Instructors symposiums, distributors exhibits, a navigational reliability trial over 200 nautical miles with big prize money, plus 2 big flying programmes. Thousands of spectators thronged the airfield to see the air shows and ground exhibits.