A de Havilland DH6 is the first plane to land at Nhill. Flight charges were £5 & £8 ($10 & $16).
1930. June 26.
Amy Johnson arrives at Nhill in a de Havilland Hawk Moth 348, VH-UNW. Her original de Havilland Gipsy Moth had been damaged in Brisbane.
A new Aeradio facility is built at Nhill. It is one of fifteen communications and guidance systems built across Australia. This was the first system of its type in the world.
Hawker Demons visit Nhill from Point Cook.
Nhill RAAF Base almost complete.
Avro Anson aircraft were the main training plane at Nhill.
The Nhill Aeradio Station is thought to be one of the few remaining in Australia. The Nhill Station is more than 70 years old.
The Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre Avro Anson restoration is underway.
Successful Fly-In as part of the Back-To-Nhill celebrations in October.
Nhill’s Aviation Highlights 1919 – 2019
The fascination of Nhill and district people with aviation dates back to 1919 when great interest resulted from the landing of a 100hp De Havilland aeroplane on Nhill Racecourse.
Since that time the community has had a long involvement with aircraft and the people who flew them.
Soon after the De Havilland landing Nhill Free Press editor and local visionary Fred McKenzie successfully advocated that Nhill become a refuelling place for aircraft because of its central position between Melbourne and Adelaide.
This was to put Nhill on the aviation map.
Second World War Training Base
Nhill’s aerodrome attained national significance during the Second World War when it became the site for a Royal Australian Air Force base. During that period the community embraced many of the about ten thousand Air Force personnel who trained at the base between 1941 and 1946. For many it was their first time away from home and family so welcomed the opportunity to be included in family and community life in Nhill and district.
For most, combat followed training. Many war survivors who trained at the base confess to their lasting fondness for Nhill and its people and have many memories to share.
War Graves in Nhill Cemetery
Seven airmen lost their lives in training flights at Nhill and are buried in seven war graves in Nhill Cemetery.
Wimmera Aero Club
Wimmera Aero Club formed at Nhill in 1946 and by 1964 had branches at Warracknabeal, Horsham, Hamilton, Mount Gambier, Millicent, Narracoorte and Birchip with aircraft assets valued at £20,000, $40,000.
Nhill Aerodrome developed as a base for pilot training, charter flights, air ambulance visits as well as a refuelling point for light aircraft including Melbourne–Adelaide flights.
Nhill Aero Club
Affiliated with Wimmera Aero Club, the Nhill Aero Club remains active and the aerodrome continues to be used as a base for trainee pilots.
The Air Ambulance, Victoria Police and other emergency services use the aerodrome – together with Angel Flight Australia, visiting businesspeople and dignitaries, including government ministers and other politicians regularly use the aerodrome, aviation tourists and private aviators.
Surgeons fly private planes to Nhill, thus making it possible to perform surgery at the Nhill Hospital, which is headquarters for West Wimmera Health Service – attracting many patients to the hospital from as far away as Mildura.
Nhill Aerodrome, owned and managed by the Hindmarsh Shire Council, is the sole accredited aerodrome in the Shire and is integral to the social and economic wellbeing of Shire residents, services and businesses.
The Establishment of Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre Association
In 2008 a small group comprising Nhill businessmen Mick Kingwill and Rob Lynch and longtime aviator the Rev Don Kube met to discuss mutual concern that, with the passing of time, much of Nhill’s aviation history could be lost.
In November that year the Rev Kube chaired a public meeting in Nhill Aero Clubrooms to outline concerns and call for suggested action. Thirty attended. The meeting unanimously endorsed a motion:
`That this meeting recognizes the importance of Nhill Aerodrome
in the on-going history of Nhill and supports the creation of an
aviation memorial with focus initially on the RAAF presence at
Nhill from 1941-46’.
A Management Committee of twelve was formed with the Rev Kube as Nhill Aviation Heritage Centrefoundation president.
In 2009 the Management Committee endorsed a Statement of Purpose, to:
Actions following this meeting:
Action by the Management Committee:
Hindmarsh Shire Council owns, manages and operates Nhill Aerodrome: the Federal Government transferred the title to the (then) Lowan Shire in February 1962. The Federal Government continued to fund the aerodrome until about 1980. Since then Lowan Shire and now Hindmarsh Shire have met costs.
Three groups lease parts of the aerodrome property from the Shire Council – Freeman Aerial Spraying, Nhill Aero Club and the Donnell Family cropping enterprise.
The aerodrome is subject to Federal Government-set standards and inspected at least annually by the Department of Civil Aviation.
The Avro Anson restoration is progressing well, and larger premises will soon be needed.
The Committee of Management plans to house the restored Avro Anson, which will be restored to taxiing status, permanently at the Nhill Aerodrome.
The NAHC Inc Committee of Management, after deciding to investigate plans and costs for a hangar, sent a delegation to the headquarters of the Ahrens Group Pty Ltd in Sheoak Log, South Australia – a large construction and engineering firm. A meeting with Stefan and Bob Ahrens resulted in an offer from that Company to design and cost hangar plans at no cost.
Looking forward -The aerodrome in 2019 - Nhill’s Aviation Century
How will this be achieved?