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Tasmanian Aero Club History

Early in 1927, a group of Launceston citizens led by former WW1 pilot's Captains V.C. Holyman and C.W.B. Martin met to investigate the formation of a branch of the Australian Aero Club in Launceston. The Australian Aero Club (Tasmanian Section) was incorporated on the 26th of September 1927. Mr J.E. Thyne was the first president.

Tasmania now had an Aero Club but no aerodrome or aircraft! One of the first projects was to lobby the Federal Government to establish an aerodrome near Launceston. The airport site was chosen and purchased by the Defence Department in 1928.

The site selected proved to be a good one as the old Western Junction Aerodrome still forms the southern end of the Launceston Airport. The year 1930 proved to be busy with construction of a hangar, a club house, the beginning of flying training, appointment of an engineer and assembly of the first Gypsy Moth VH-ULM.

 

Assembling VH-ULM VH-ULM

 

The Australian Aero Club (Tasmanian Section) played a major role in the selection of the site of Western Junction Aerodrome, now Launceston Airport. The first two buildings on the aerodrome were the aero club hangar and club house, and the first aircraft to fly from the aerodrome were the two club Gypsy Moths VH-ULM and VH-ULN.

The Tasmanian Aero Club have now occupied a position on the Launceston Airport for over seventy years. January 21st 1931 was a significant date of the Western Junction Aerodrome with the arrival of the first commercial airliner from Melbourne. On March the 1st 1931, 15000 people turned out to see Tasmania's first Air Pageant. It is reported that the traffic build up created Tasmania's first ever traffic jam! The crowd were treated to a display which included RAAF Westland Wapiti, Bristol Bulldog, club and visiting Gypsy Moths, and Smithy's Avro X.

The Club House was opened by Air Commodore Richard Williams, later to become Air Vice Marshall Sir R. Williams, the father of the RAAF.

 

Construction of the Club House Early aerial scene