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.