FIFTY years ago, I took my first flight lesson at Coffs Harbour Aero Club. It was life changing.
This once-great community facility and corner post of North Coast aviation history may soon be forced to close operations at Coffs Airport.
The writing was on the wall when the Federal Government passed ownership to the council in the 1980s.
Commercialisation will inevitably stamp out the last and most famous of our local flight training organisations.
Coffs Harbour Aero Club can no longer exist financially on a major airport where the priority is to develop airline services to an international level.
In our user-pays society the mounting costs of an over-governed industry must be borne by all.
There may not be a softening of policy with departmental accounting to apportion benefits/responsibility.
More the case of if you want to stay, pay your way.
For the Aero Club it's a sad day indeed.
Traditional community flight training is being displaced from the major airports to more rural settings.
To survive, the aero club would need to re-locate outside of the Coffs Flight Control Zone.
Has anyone noticed that South Grafton aerodrome has doubled its size with seven new hangars in recent years?
Would it surprise you that many are owned by Coffs Harbour aviators who could not gain a site at Coffs Airport?
Council postponed a new management plan for the airport just this month.
No doubt the Macquarie Bank and others are looking on with great interest.
Sorry chaps, but after 87 years Coffs Harbour is no longer your aerodrome.
Former Coffs Harbour Aero Clubsecretary and flight instructor