Wednesday, 9 May 2007


Temora Museum

Well life in a motel was getting routine. You get up shower, make a cuppa before or after, then wait for the breakfast to arrive at your door. I could get use to it!

Once again the plan was for Kev to return to the airfield to work on the oil leaks on the gaskets on Lady Bird’s push rods. He got a lift to the field from the motel owners at about 8.30 whilst Sarah and I finished tidying up and packing.

We stored our bags in the room and walked into Temora township which was only 2 blocks. Temora is a 100 year old town with very wide streets with deep gutters and drains. Many of the original buildings are still used as shops and all are in good repair. The town was busy and seems to be flourishing. Sarah and I browsed along shop fronts finding a few sales to purchase gifts for friends and clothes for Sarah (of course). We needed to purchase araldite for Kev and some fresh fruit and snacks for the next flight legs.

Meanwhile back at Temora’s Aviation Museum hangar Kev had degreased, thoroughly cleaned the suspected oil leak areas in preparation for overlaying the oil leak area with the araldite in the hope of stopping the leaks.

We met up again at the hangar where Kevin was waiting for the araldite. The chief engineer and he were jointly evaluating the situation and Kev proceeded to overlay multiple mixes of araldite to the offending areas.

Sarah and I spent the time having a guided tour through the Museum’s new project. The latest restoration of a jet engined "……………….."(oops forgotten) was in an advanced condition with all fuselage parts fitted and the wings ready for attaching. The engine was donated from a major airline and is encased ready for installation. They plan to have it flying by March 2008. The remainder of the museum is a room containing detailed information about flying aces, the Temora FTS and a relief of what the airfield would have looked like during the war. The main showcase of this museum is all the flying exhibits. In the main hangar were a MK XVI Spitfire, Bird Dog, Wirraway, Aero Cobra, Tiger Moth, Buffalo, Mitchell, Canberra and a Ryan STM 52. The theme of this Museum, privately owned by David Lowry, is that all aircraft have had something to do with active service with the Australian Air Force. Very impressive.

The repair all finished we flew out into the mid morning air. Once again facing miles of smoke haze from burning off visibility was restricted to 2 km. This leg was only a short flight to Wangaratta – previous home (for 20+ years) of Lady Bird when she was VH-CWM. Over the top we could see the huge domed hangar of Drage Airworld with a DC3 VH-AES parked out the front. We landed on the huge runway and taxied to the front of the hangar.

Drage Airworld Hangar Wangaratta

It is now fully utilized as a restoration business with multiple aircraft being worked upon simultaneously. They employ 22 LAME’s and were restoring an Aero Cobra, 2 Kitty Hawks, a P38 Lightening, a Corsair and a Mitchell amongst others.

We awaited the arrival of Graham and Dawn Whitehead (cousins of Kev’s) and they collected us all up and drove us to their lovely 40 acres property on the western side of town. Their home was a dream design and a pleasure to stay in. They had researched extensively their choices for everything for this house prior to building it. And it showed, from the timber cupboards and marble bench tops in the kitchen, roof line, upstairs room, guest bathroom to the decorator items and paintings it was truly a part of their family.
Us with Graham, Dawn, Meagan and Jessica

We relaxed over coffee chatting with Jessica and Meagen, whilst Dawn and Graham attended to business. A lovely home cooked evening meal followed with much lively conversation and laughter.

We heard from Ken at the Wangaratta Aero Club that Joe Drage would come out to the airport the next morning to see Lady Bird in her new livery.



The day dawned – well didn’t dawn actually – as thick fog surrounded everything. We could only just see Lady outside the fence and the rest of the property was blanketed.

Lady in the fog

Sarah and I got up early (GREAT!!!) and went for a jog around the airstrip portion of the property. It was 800 metres up and back with about 300 metres top and bottom. I can assure you I didn’t run much but Sarah did – so I think she’s getting fitter. I was just feeling old and cold!

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, with cereal, toast and tea as usual then showered, dressed and ready for the day’s visitors and then the next leg.

Lance Fletcher ? and Kev

Lance arrived and he and Kev talked of Lance’s life experiences and about everything aeronautical. He had joined the RNAC as an apprentice at age 14, gained his license for both airframe and engine, became Chief Engineer and remained so for 34 years. The humour is that although his life’s work was around the Tiger Moth, he in fact hated the aeroplane, and only flew it when forced to by circumstance. He didn’t enjoy flying Tigers because they were slow, cold and uncomfortable. Lance looked well for his 76+ years however his looks belied his health. He was suffering from leukemia and really has to take things easy. His family was still into aeroplanes – owning 3 Tiger Moths, a Chipmunk and an Auster.

Sarah and I went for an exploration of the abandoned farmhouse on the Luskintyre property. There was an International truck that had a wooden bench seat – the sides of which stuck out past the guards. We guessed you could fit 2 adults and 3 kids along the seat. There were also 3 Fordson tractors all in different stages of dis-repair. Under a collapsed shed were the remains of an unknown vehicle which had wooden spokes (they were in a remarkably fair condition considering I couldn’t identify the rest). We couldn’t get into the house but looked through windows to see piles of bottles, wood stove and cooking benches. Another area contained a complete but uncovered wing and numerous Tiger parts in disrepair. We could hear pigeons in the roof but couldn’t see them. Looking through another broken window we could see that the roof had caved in through the hall way of the house. We did wish we could get in and investigate further.

We wandered back through the long wet grass, around the Duck’s Pond, onto the Dam island then back to the clubrooms. The fog had nearly cleared as it was 11 am.

We flew out of Luskintyre out of the Hunter Valley in considerable haze then up over the gorges to overfly Mudgee and turned south for Bathurst. We stopped for fuel and watched two gliders being towed out for numerous short sorties. We received a complimentary radio call about our aeroplane being so beautiful. We took off on the downward slope of the Bathurst strip and flew toward the famous Bathurst racing circuit and the Mount Panorama sign on the hill. What a iconic Australian sight.

On to Temora we flew through dense smoke from a bush fire to the north west with visibility down to about 2 miles. This cleared and we descended into Temora by about 4.30. Tied down and settled into a local motel for the night.

Visibility through smoke from fire


Crescent Head Coffs Harbour

We didn’t really want to leave this great place there was plenty to do however we wanted to get closer to Echuca before the airshow in case weather caught up with us. The plan was to fly short legs via Luskintyre, Wangaratta then Echuca by midday Saturday.

We taxied into Coffs large shopping centre – posted off Mick’s phone charger that we had accidentally packed (Oops Sorry Mick). Bought groceries for our evening meal as the clubrooms at Luskintyre were self contained and no shops for miles around. Back at the airfield we packed (stuffed) all the extras into Lady and blasted off over the beaches down the coast until Taree where we stopped for fuel.

Taree Aero Club refuelling stop

At Taree Aero Club we met Brian (G?) a local aviator who was restoring a Tiger Moth. He kindly showed us through his project and spent time with us while we lunched in the beautifully maintained Aero Club. Although in his 70s, due to unfortunate circumstances he and his wife were parenting 6 of their grandchildren aged between 6 and 14.

After Taree we turned West via the same track we had flown out from Luskintyre only seven days before. It seemed so long ago – we had been so far and done so much.

The beauty of the valley astounded us once again with miles of fertile open farming country. We searched in vain for Ray Windred’s house – as he had given us directions – but to no avail. So we trundled onto the airfield and the familiar clubrooms. ]

It had only been a 2.5 hour flight so we were refreshed still – had plenty of time to tie down, unpack then wander around and chat to everyone. Once again Lady attracted plenty of attention from the Tiger enthusiasts.

On arrival Jeff Kubank’s freshly restored yellow Tiger was starting up for another local flight to complete his run-in schedule prior to the trip to Echuca for the airshow. His restoration standard was exceptional and he reported it was flying “hands off”.

Old Mobil Signs at Luskintyre

Kev also caught up with Ray Windred and took photos of the rocker hat clamping system which Ray uses to rejuvenate flattened hats. Ray is the ghuru of Tiger restoration on the east coast having some 22 projects in his hangar with considerable reserves of parts yet to be touched. He unfortunately has been suffering from colon cancer but after radical surgery, sporting a scar from chest to crutch, he has it under control and managed.

Jeff Kubank, Cookie and Vince came in for a drink and a chat for an hour before heading off home. I then cooked our chicken kebabs, served up with salad and we enjoyed our meal in the large club house main room. Then Ray Windred arrived for his “Tiger talk” and whilst Kev and he compared notes Sarah and I settled down to watch Mcleods Daughters – our favourite show that we hadn’t seen for a while.

Kevin had contacted Lance Fletcher to visit next morning. Lance was an old Tiger associate whom he had met in 1976 when Allen Wilson took him for a fly in VH-ADW at Maitland. Lance was the chief engineer of the Royal Newcastle Aero Club and kindly gave Kev a Dragon Rapide ferry tank which was then in turn, installed in VH-BAR (Tiger 66) as the long range fuel tank.

That evenings bedding plans was for Sar and I to be in one room as they were all bunks. Kev with his noisy Cpap machine was at the other end of the hall. Unfortunately I had chosen the lumpiest mattress and after tossing for 2 hours I changed rooms. I did sleep better however had to listen to the Kev Cpap fighting noises as usual.

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.