Intrepid Octogenarian Aviator Flies to WA in Self-Built Aircraft

Ron Fisher (R) with a couple of well-wishers who came to the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome to see him off on his long journey to WA.  Ron's plane is in the backgroun

Ron Fisher (R) with a couple of well-wishers who came to the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome to see him off at his first attempt on his long journey to WA.  Ron turned back on the day but managed to get away when the weather improved. Ron’s self-built plane is in the background

Aviation veteran and former RAAF and QANTAS pilot Ron Fisher of Evans Head arrived yesterday in West Australia following a long flight from Evans Head.

Fisher, with more than 13,000 hours of flying experience, much of it as a chief flying instructor,  recently completed the building of a kit plane at Evans Head which he sold to a WA grazier who plans to use it for station work including inspection of 53 windmills and watering facilities.

The buyer came to Evans Head during the Great Eastern Fly-In to see the plane and take it for a spin.

Up up and away.  Ron's finally in the air after a long preparaton the ground

Up up and away. Ron’s finally in the air after a long preparation the ground

Ron on the morning of the first attempt which had to be aborted because of poor weather and low lying fog on the ground.

Ron on the morning of the first attempt which had to be aborted because of poor weather and low lying fog on the ground.

Fisher’s plans to fly to WA were delayed by bad weather from  Cyclone Oswald but he finally got away late last week reaching WA on Sunday, just four days later.  Lindberg eat your heart out!

He stopped a couple of times along the way for fuel, victuals and a good sleep.

Ron planned his trip carefully and was equipped with emergency beacon, water and food supplies and the usual gear pilots use for flying on long trips.

Ron explains the finer points of the toilet facilities on the aircraft.

Ron (R) explains the finer points of the toilet facilities on the aircraft.

Ron will be back soon to Evans Head after a slightly more comfortable flight, we hope, on the ‘red-eye’ special from Perth.

Congratulations Ron.   Not bad for an 80 year old.  Maybe even a Guinness Book of Records to build and fly a plane at 80 over a long distance from Evans Head to Geralton.

Ron already has an ABC TV  ‘Inventors’ title for a piece of air navigation equipment he developed back in the late 70’s early 80’s.

Safety Concerns About Retirement Village on Aerodrome

Retirement village complex March 2011 email

The retirement village complex proposed for the retirement village obtained from Development Application documents available in the public domain. The nursing home is less than 7% of the site and could have been built years ago elsewhere on council land. Council has allowed the proponent to sell off 24 blocks of land along Currajong Street for their financial benefit and at cost to ratepayers who have already subsidised the development for many millions of dollars. Former mayor Col Sullivan who was defeated at the last election for the position of mayor stated that “The project has stalled in recent times primarily due to its economic viability [sic]”. He went on to say “the conditions and costs imposed in the development application hand down by the Joint Regional Planning Panel, have placed further financial burden on the project costs as well as a range of planning issues…..” Interesting comments to make particularly given that the Panel based its decision on a report prepared by Sullivan’s very own council. (Source: The Casino Times 2012).  It is interesting to note that the drafted pictures of the development leave out the runways.  Why?

With all his experience Ron’s got a lot of concern about the safety of the proposed retirement village for the Aerodrome.  Ron’s plotted out accident data for aviation and shown that there is potential for many accidents on the site  (see below)

The red donuts in the diagram represent crash sites from a published data set superimposed on the site set aside for the proposed retirement village for the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome

He’s perplexed about why anyone would want to build so close to an airstrip unless they were using the development as a Trojan Horse to close the aerodrome in the long run.

Ron’s had first hand experience of aviation accident.  When he was with the RAAF he had an engine failure in a Mustang on take-off through no fault of his own: “How I survived a plane crash”  vimeo.com/29029804    He managed to put the aircraft down in the airfield and survived without serious injury.

Ron's P-51 Mustang crashed on take-off after the engine failed.

Ron’s P-51 Mustang crashed on take-off after the engine failed.  The plane skidded a long distance across the airfield before coming to a stop.  If the crash had happened at Evans Head it would have cleaned up the proposed retirement village

If there had been a retirement village he would have plowed right into it.   The impact of the buildings would have ripped the fuel tanks open and created a fire.

There has been no proper assessment of the risk of aviation accident at Evans Head and the ATSB has failed to reply to requests for information.

Ron began expressing his concerns publicly in 2009 but his comments were ignored by Richmond Valley Council and the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel which decided in favour of the development in early 2012.

He has also put his views in the media (see below).

Ron Fisher being interviewed by local television about the inappropriate location of the retirement village so close to the main runway of the aerodrome

Ron Fisher being interviewed by local television about the inappropriate location of the retirement village so close to the main runway of the aerodrome

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