Wellcamp Airport cleared for historic take-off today
WELLCAMP farmer Noel Klein is one of the lucky few who will take to the air on the first flight from Wellcamp Airport today.
The 90-year-old has lived in the area his whole life.
Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine Wellcamp Downs would one day become an airport.
He was 15 when he started working at Wellcamp Pastoral Company, where the airport was built.
Mr Klein worked from 3am until 10.30pm, milking 183 cows a day for 10 shillings a week.
He single-handedly looked after 200 breeders, 5000 sheep and acres of crops.
"My mother worked there for two shillings a week," he said.
"The country was full of prickly pear at the time.
"She used to go out and poison prickly pear, and also do cooking and housework."
One year Mr Klein planted 200 acres of pumpkins.
Instead of a runway there were pumpkins as far as the eye could see.
It was a totally different time.
"Today you just press a button to do work, in those days it was all manual.
"It was so cold if you didn't drain the water out of the engine in a tin under a fire you wouldn't get the engine started until 10:30 the next morning because it would freeze.
"I slept in the shearers' quarters. They weren't sealed or lined in those days.
"I had two wool bales underneath and over the top to stay warm."
"In 1874 my mother was working where the airport is now.
"There was a flood and half a metre of water went straight over where the runway is now.
"They've since put 16 metres of soil where the flood was, so it won't get that high again."
He said the airport was a real lift to everybody in the area.
"Toowoomba and the region will really go ahead now."
Mr Klein is part of a group of paying travellers and guests who will fly on the first QantasLink flight to Sydney.
The historic flight will leave at 9.55am today.
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