Plans for avi­a­tion base Event sea­son heats up for re­gion

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Louise Shan­non

THE new own­ers of Whit­sun­day Air­port at Flame­tree have flown into town and are ready for take-off with their ven­ture.

Ross and Diane Arm­strong, who ar­rived by he­li­copter from their farm south-east of Emer­ald last week, said their vi­sion for the air­port was to guide it to reach its po­ten­tial as a full com­mu­nity of avi­a­tors and to pro­vide a com­plete range of ser­vices for flight buffs.

Mr Arm­strong said the air­port and its pop­u­lar hangar-home air­park com­mu­nity, named the Whit­sun­day Avi­a­tion Vil­lage Es­tate, would also be the cou­ple’s base when they were not op­er­at­ing their ex­ten­sive farm­ing op­er­a­tions from ei­ther Emer­ald or Rock­hamp­ton.

“We had ini­tially bought into the con­cept of the air­park and res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity at the air­port and its com­mu­nity of fel­low avi­a­tors, and to be able to be here in a part of the world as pic­turesque as the Whit­sun­days is truly unique,” he said.

Mr Arm­strong, whose wife and son Alexan­der are also he­li­copter pi­lots, said he was keen to sup­port and en­cour­age pri­vate avi­a­tion in Aus­tralia.

He wants to sup­ply fuel for stop-offs, and the fa­cil­i­ties to cater for a com­plete pro­vi­sion of es­sen­tial main­te­nance ser­vices for all air­craft.

Mr Arm­strong said the avi­a­tion vil­lage was an ideal de­vel­op­ment for flight en­thu­si­asts be­cause they could use their own hangar, and en­joy the beauty of the Whit­sun­days.

“With your own air­craft, you can go to a dif­fer­ent beach every day and still not see them all,” he said.

Mr Arm­strong said he wanted to nur­ture and de­velop a friendly avi­a­tion com­mu­nity base, es­pe­cially for visi­tors who were land­ing at the air­port for the first time, and pro­vide trans­fers to ac­com­mo­da­tion or what­ever the pri­vate pi­lots needed from a “des­ti­na­tion for pri­vate flights”.

It was 30 years ago when Mr Arm­strong got into a he­li­copter for the first time as a pas­sen­ger, and that ig­nited his pas­sion for flight.

“I’ve been fly­ing now for al­most 20 years and we’ve been for­tu­nate to see a large ma­jor­ity of Aus­tralia from the cock­pit of a he­li­copter, and we feel truly priv­i­leged to do that,” he said.

“The per­spec­tive that you gain of Aus­tralia by be­ing able to fly around in a light air­craft is truly unique and I think more peo­ple should be able to en­joy that.”

Mr Arm­strong said the air­park com­mu­nity had 40 res­i­den­tial lots, with 16 of those un­sold.

Mr Arm­strong is well known at WAVE, hav­ing bought three of the res­i­den­tial lots and built a hangar home.

“Our vi­sion is to fin­ish the air­park and cre­ate a com­mu­nity of like-minded peo­ple who sim­ply en­joy the avi­a­tion life­style as much as we do,” he said.

WAVE is Aus­tralia’s first fully in­te­grated res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment within an air­port.

The air­port pro­vides easy ac­cess to the Whit­sun­day re­gion’s 74 is­lands and com­mu­nity of Air­lie Beach.

THE event sea­son has well and truly kicked off with a bang fol­low­ing the Reef Fes­ti­val last week­end.

A huge crowd turned up for the fire­works on Fri­day and seemed to stay all week­end.

The main street was packed all day Satur­day with a fan­tas­tic dis­play of com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion in the street pa­rade.

The cham­ber ex­tends a heart­felt thanks to all the vol­un­teers and spon­sors that work tire­lessly be­hind the scenes.

No such thanks go to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment for pulling back on Cat­e­gory D fund­ing prom­ises.

While Mayor Wil­cox and CEO Barry Omund­son con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for the re­gion, the Cham­ber and the busi­ness peo­ple of the Whit­sun­days are ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed that key projects may not get funded due to tech­ni­cal­i­ties.

Race Week will be start­ing next week, yet ac­com­mo­da­tion still seems to be an is­sue.

So­lu­tions are be­ing con­sid­ered, but ac­tion needs to be taken sooner rather than later as we risk los­ing hard-won fights if ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions don’t im­prove.

It is cru­cial for all visi­tors to feel wel­come and ex­pe­ri­ence the re­laxed, friendly hos­pi­tal­ity our re­gion is fa­mous for.

The Cham­ber AGM is to be held on Au­gust 17, 7.30am at the Ray White board­room in Can­non­vale.

All mem­bers are wel­come and com­mit­tee mem­ber nom­i­na­tions can be viewed at Ray White.

PHOTO: PE­TER CARRUTHERS

PAS­SION­ATE PI­LOTS: New own­ers of Whit­sun­day Air­port, Ross and Diane Arm­strong.

PHOTO: SHARON SMALL­WOOD

IN THE FAM­ILY: Jef­frey Rud­dell with his daugh­ters Alice, El­lie and Joanna be­side the P51 Mus­tang at the Air­lie Beach Air Show.

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