Good afternoon members and friends. I will follow on from the Summer newsletter.
Rathmines Memorial Grounds:
LMCC ground staff have been active and very well assisted by our member Rod Mellor. The lawn and gardens improve by the week and the plan to install an irrigation system is still in play.
After considerable discussion we now have LMCC ‘owner’s consent’ to install the irrigation system, but their list of do’s and dont’s came too late to apply for the ‘Saluting Their Service’ grant. A fresh grant application was submitted last week, via the Community Building program. Results are released in November!
Within the application was an irrigation design plan, provided by Rex Sullings of Aqueduct Consulting…pro bono and our thanks to Rex.
A beautiful Autumn day and on our count the attendance was over 500. Penny did a great job in organising the many facets of this important day. RAAF presence was very limited due mainly to other commitments, but the fly past of an E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ was spot on time at 1300. Squadron Leader Ian Murray (Rtd) read the Oration and our local State member Greg Piper read the quaint poem ‘The Shabby Catalina’. Western Lake Macquarie Concert Band provided excellent music…thanks everyone. Of note, LMCC Mayor Kay Fraser accepted our invitation to attend.
Base Heritage Tours:
Bookings and enquiries are beginning to flow in and we have recently hosted two groups from the Eleebana Shores Village. Both groups accepted our invitation to visit the restoration after lunch. We have had several other ‘aircraft visits’ and offer a morning tea at a modest charge, with two more Clubs booked in the weeks ahead.
Terry Fahey will have an update in the next newsletter, but I can say that it is going great guns. The fellows have now completed erecting and installing a much needed larger canopy over the fuselage.
We have been in regular contact for many many months with a gentleman in W.A. He is the owner of a non flying Catalina and the associated internal components. We have reached an agreement which will see the ‘internals’ gifted to us and this recovery is about to take place. Volunteers, Terry Fahey and John Tilley will fly to Perth to facilitate the recovery. The Association is funding the mission, including the purchase of a container to load and rail home. Quite a substantial commitment of Terry and John's time and very much appreciated. These components will be needed to complete the restoration. Possible availability of parts in the USA, cost of purchase and freight make W.A a better option. More in the next newsletter.
This aircraft was reported ‘lost on Ops’ in September 1943. The wreckage site was located in remote West Papua in 2018. I received a call from RAAF History and Heritage section last week to advise that a plaque is to be unveiled in Cairns to honour the crew. This is planned for July 18th. If you would like more information please give me call.
Rathmines Park Heritage Centre and LMCC:
You may recall that we met with LMCC staff on Feb 1st to discuss our Business Plan (the case for a building at Rathmines) and the external consultant's reviews. More information was requested by us at that time. Two months had elapsed with no response, so a letter was sent to the CEO and the Mayor, asking for a response.
A letter (email) arrived yesterday and the content is in a similar vein to the reviewers….a sea of negativity and disinterest. So, whilst not unexpected, it is very disappointing and does not offer a realistic pathway forward. It is clearly time to move on and alternatives are and will be discussed by your committee. Take heart, other options exist and as I have said before our aim is to find the best way forward for the aircraft and the dedicated restoration team.
I expect many of you share our disappointment and frustration, after so many years of discussion to endeavour to achieve a positive engagement with LMCC.
A significant donation has just been received from a local charitable trust and our thanks have been expressed. This level of support and encouragement is a great boost to morale.
Our Treasurer, Philip, will begin issuing these early next month. The committee and I appreciate your on going support.
Restoration Volunteers, Graham Barnett and Bruce Fergusson, recently called time out and on everyone’s behalf, I thank them for their outstanding contribution at the aircraft. Gents, we look forward to the occasional drop in. Best wishes and take care.
Kind regards, Bill