Service to be held for chopper pilot
Friends of Pilbara helicopter muster pilot Ross McDowell are set to gather under a setting sun tomorrow night to share a drink and tall tales of the local legend.
Known far and wide as Rossy Rotor, Mr McDowell died last July 28 when he crashed his helicopter near Roy Hill station.
Having spent countless years mustering cattle for Pilbara pastoralists and taking part in community activities, Mr McDowell and his quirky sense of humour touched the lives of many.
Wife Chrissie, who is organising the Rossy Rotor sundowner to mark one year since her husband’s passing, said she had been overwhelmed by how the Pilbara community returned his love from the moment he went missing.
“On the 29th at first light, 14 helicopters from around the Pilbara, light aircraft, SES and police all gathered and searched a large area of Roy Hill until he was found,” she said.
“What an overwhelming expression of love and support for our family and an absolute honour that he was so respected, loved and admired by so many.
“To this day, the year without him has been an amazing journey, the tributes, love, compassion and support of so many is being such a positive influence in my life. I can’t thank you all enough.”
Ms McDowell said the recent Marble Bar Races, where she was continually approached by friends wanting to share tales of Mr McDowell, highlighted how much her husband was missed. She said it ranged from stories in which Mr McDowell encouraged young pastoralists to reach their dreams to others in which he gave a station kid their first ever helicopter ride.
One Pilbara station mum, who had to home-school her children, said she loved it when Mr McDowell was visiting the station.
She said Mr McDowell’s promise to give the child who paid the most attention in class a helicopter ride was one of the few ways she could get them to do their school work.
“His legacy . . . lives on in so many Pilbara families,” she said.
Those wishing to attend the Rossy Rotor sundowner are encouraged to bring food and drinks and a donation for charity Lifeline.