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Floyd and Derek Larsen at the airfeild. Photo by David Hill, Deep Hill Media.. Floyd and Derek Larsen at the airfeild. Photo by David Hill, Deep Hill Media.. Featured
01 August 2019 Posted by 

MOUNTAINS AVIATION HUB REBORN

Lithgow couple want 50-year licence
RED DWYER
INVESTMENT in a small rundown airfield – two dirt strips carved out in dense bushland – aims to create an aviation hub and leverage the tourism industry’s annual $400M contribution to the Blue Mountains economy.
Thousands of objections to the proposal have been made.
 
Katoomba Airfield, a 36-hectare facility, located on 89 hectares of Crown land on Grand Canyon Road, is four kilometres east of Medlow Bath and 5 kilometres north of Katoomba.
 
The airfield, established to encourage tourism, commenced operations in October 5, 1968, under successive leases; the last ended in October 2017, when the lessee, flying instructor, Rod Hay, 80, died.
 
Following his death, in a single engine plane crash in nearby terrain, the runways fell into “dangerous disrepair” which resulted in closing the airfield to fixed-wing aircraft except in emergencies.
 
Helicopter operations including Defence Force aircraft have continued to land and take-off as usual and the airstrip has been used regularly by giant Skycrane helicopters for bushfire-fighting duties.
 
The NSW Department of Industry called for expressions of interest to lease the airfield, and subsequently granted a three-year licence to Derek and Floyd Larsen, Poll Hereford cattle breeders, from the Capertee Valley, near Lithgow,
 
Airfield revitalised
 
FlyBlue Management Pty Ltd is in the process of revitalising the airfield in a bid to secure a 50-year commercial lease as a hub for recreational aviation and emergency services, install a heliport and seal the east-west runway.
 
The company expects the upgrades to help lure more tourism and overnight stays to the Blue Mountains including private plane owners who would stay locally.
 
Some 50 per cent of the airfield would be dedicated to non-aviation use, such as, bushwalking, radio club, star gazers club, and RAAF cadets’ bivouacs.
 
FlyBlue proposes to promote the Blue Mountains as being more than just a day-visitor destination, by encouraging visitors to stay overnight and experience a heli-charter to wineries, gardens, lunches etc nearby and in the Central West, resulting in delivering stronger economic and employment benefits.
 
An important factor in the on-going operation of the airfield is that is the only aircraft landing site available between Greater Sydney and Bathurst, serving as an important safety asset and waypoint for the thousands of light aircraft traversing the World Heritage National Park and the Blue Mountains annually.
 
The airfield is regarded as an asset of strategic value for training and real-life emergencies, mass casualty events and natural disasters,
 
Vocal local opposition from conservation and community groups exists to the granting of a commercial license with calls for it to be added to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and be used only for emergencies
The airfield was used for commercial tourism operation with joy flights from 1992 until community opposition in1995 
Fly Blue has pledged to use a “fly neighbourly” scheme which reduces the impacts of noise on populated and sensitive areas.


editor

Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
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Email: info@wsba.com.au
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Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) covers the business and community issues of the Greater Western Sydney region of Australia. WSBA is the popular media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities and networks.