Ser­vice to be held for chop­per pi­lot

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ben Leahy

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.

Pic­ture: Hugh Brown

Ross McDow­ell.

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