Avi­a­tor’s AM

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE -

Richard ‘Dick’ Gower has been vis­it­ing Tocumwal for the best part of 37 years to fly his Chip­munk air­craft and is a long time mem­ber of the Mur­ray Bor­der Fly­ing Team.

The keen pi­lot re­ceived a Mem­ber in the Gen­eral Di­vi­sion of the Or­der of Aus­tralia (AM) in the Aus­tralia Day hon­ours list.

Mr Gower was recog­nised for sig­nif­i­cant ser­vice to the recre­ational and his­tor­i­cal avi­a­tion sec­tor through a range of roles.

He lives in Gruyere in Vic­to­ria’s Yarra Val­ley and some­times flies from neigh­bour­ing town Cold­stream to Tocumwal.

The 79 year-old started vis­it­ing Tocumwal af­ter he pur­chased his Chip­munk from the United King­dom.

‘‘The plane was re­stored and as­sem­bled by lo­cal man Tim Beecroft,’’ he said.

‘‘When the Tocumwal Air­park opened I bought a block of land on which I built a hangar and apart­ment.

‘‘I used to fly Chip­munks back in the 1960s at the Royal Vic­to­rian Aero Club (RVAC).

‘‘They’re an at­trac­tive plane and nice to fly,” Mr Gower said.

He de­scribed Tocumwal as “a friendly place with a beau­ti­ful aero­drome”.

‘‘I usu­ally leave the Chip­munk in Tocumwal and we drive, but I have flown the trip many times.’’

Mr Gower re­cently taught four Tocumwal res­i­dents to fly.

‘‘It went pretty well. We started with ground brief­ings and the­ory fol­lowed by fly­ing in pairs with an in­struc­tor.’’

Mr Gower’s love of fly­ing is ev­i­dent in his work for aero­nau­ti­cal clubs and as­so­ci­a­tions.

He was di­rec­tor of the RVAC from 1990 un­til 2011, RVAC chief the­ory in­struc­tor for three years and was made a life mem­ber of RVAC in 2012.

In 1996 he founded the RVAC Satel­lite Fly­ing School at Cold­stream Aero­drome.

Mr Gower was a com­mit­tee mem­ber of the An­tique Aero­plane As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia (AAAA) from 1988 un­til 1999 in­clud­ing pres­i­dent from 1990 to 1996.

‘‘I had a busi­ness in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try as an en­gi­neer do­ing de­sign ap­proval work­ing for Ansett and other com­pa­nies; I still run the com­pany in a small way,’’ Mr Gower said.

‘‘Once you be­come a to­tal en­thu­si­ast of fly­ing it can ab­sorb you.

‘‘The Chip­munk has al­ways been my favourite plane. There’s a great sup­port net­work of Chip­munk own­ers across the world,’’ he said.

Mur­ray Bor­der Fly­ing Team mem­ber Richard ‘Dick’ Gower with his wife Liz.

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