Plans for aviation base Event season heats up for region
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.
PASSIONATE PILOTS: New owners of Whitsunday Airport, Ross and Diane Armstrong.
IN THE FAMILY: Jeffrey Ruddell with his daughters Alice, Ellie and Joanna beside the P51 Mustang at the Airlie Beach Air Show.