Monday, 14 May 2007


Sunday was the main public attendance day at the Fly-In. Kevin had been organized to fly in a photo shoot with Rob Fox over the top of the airfield. Their goal was to film the Stinson with the field of aircraft below him for future publications on the airshow. He left for the field fairly early whilst Sarah and I were free to roam around Echuca for a touristy time.

We wanted to see the Paddle Steamers and all the sights of the town. We were given a lift in by our Motel owner who offered much information about the shops, buildings and items of interest. We wandered the river-side laneway packed with booking offices for the ships. We walked into a beaut wood working shop where a young lad of about 13 was working on a piece whilst in another corner the tradesman was finishing each item.

Paddle Steamer Emmy Lou Wood down the jetty to the Steamer

The Steamers were so old yet so beautifully maintained. We watched 2 men roll a baggage trolley full of wood down the jetty to the steamer. They still run on wood fires to generate steam to run the paddle wheels. We shouted ourselves to a coffee and milk shake in a café as it was quite chilly. Then once warmed up we continued strolling around the town – it was Sunday so pretty quiet. Overhead we heard a radial and looked up to see Lady Bird purring past. Kevin was flying for the photo shoot and enjoying the feel of a light aircraft for the first time in 5 weeks.

Southern Knights Harvard Formation

Back at the field we sat and watched the continuing air displays including aerobatics by a 450 Stearman, Yak 18T, Mustang, Kittyhawk, Yak 9, and the Southern Knights Harvard team. Numerous other antique aircraft performed fly bys (including the Stinson). Jim Wickham put on a speccy performance display in his Robinson helicopter ably compared by his wife Jenny. Peter Bernardi and Bob Attwater did a splendid job of comparing the entire airshow only leaving their post to carry out a formation display in their Chipmunk and Ryan PT22.

Dick Nell's Stampe at Echuca

Another memorable performance was by our “old” time friend Dick Nell in his Stampe, carrying out a fully aerobatic display including everything from a porteous loop to a lomjevac with smoke which ran for almost 15 minutes. Not bad for a man of 76 years. He jokes that every display will be his last but keeps accepting requests for future events. We have nicknamed him “Dame Nellie” after Dame Nellie Melba who kept on coming back from retirement.

As the day wore on it became apparent that the general aviators were keen to fly back to their respective homes. The taxi way to the take-off point held up to 20 aircraft at one time. We finally joined the queue at 3 pm and departed for Nhill. The standard of the airshow had been superb. The weather had turned out perfect with a steady 10 knot breeze straight down the runway and the AAAA had excelled in organizing and running probably one of the best airshows we have seen in Australia.

Flying West we experienced even more alarmingly drought stricken country and to our astonishment saw hundreds of kilometers of wide open irrigations ditches full of water snaking out across the landscape. This was rice growing country and it was so concerning to see extensive flood irrigation still being used when the country is drought stricken!

We tracked directly to find Darryl & Mary Argall’s farmhouse situation about 10 nm south east of Nhill and found it right on the nose. Mary waved as we overflew before landing at the Nhill airstrip. During our ritual of oil wiping, windscreen cleaning etc Darryl arrived and it was great to catch up with Kevin’s old shearing friend. They met whilst shearing at Lake Varley in the SE of WA in 1967. He is Mayor of Nhill and has been deeply involved in local government for nearly 10 years. He is a big solid jovial fellow and the strong bond between him and Kevin was obvious as the evening’s banter progressed.


Darryl had prepared for us a resplendid meal of Osso Bucco followed by Golden Syrup dumplings and cream. As the evening continued Mary asked Sarah what would she like to do as the reminiscing stories were not very interesting to a 13 year old. So spotlighting was suggested..... and she jumped at the offer. Rugged up and into the ute Sarah spotted while Darryl and Kevin were each armed with 12 guage double barrel shot guns. The fun idea of the evening was soon dashed when Sarah found out that they would be shooting bunny-rabbits not foxes! She was told that they are vermin and so continued with the adventure. She did a great job, holding on in the back of the bouncy ute, getting the rabbits in the spot and following them however when the shooting was occuring it was found that the light went off the target! It became apparent that she was a great spotter but when the gun was going to be fired, she turned her head away so she couldn't witness what was going to happen.
Sara did manage to find the strength to hold the spotlight on the dodging target until Kev fired the gun too close to her ear and made her deaf! That was the end of that fun.

After returning to the house, warming up with hot Milo we all climbed into luxurious deep piled beds with electric blankets!

Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL

Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL
over Perth city (Photo: Greg Hill)

About Us

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Flying farming couple who live on 135 acres. Kev is obsessed by aeroplanes. Vicki is devoted to horses and White Swiss Shepherds.