ALBATROSS Aero Club is revved up to celebrate 25 years of flying at HMAS Albatross next week.
The club was established on May 8, 1990 and has grown to more than 100 members, the oldest aged 80 and the youngest 15.
Albatross Aero Club president Paul Folkes said originally formed as a Navy flying club, it now offered military and civilians the chance to learn to fly, build on aviation skills or fly recreationally.
“We’ve evolved and diversified a little bit. We’re now an incorporated not-for-profit organisation and are also a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) accredited flying training organisation.
“Our prime reason to be here is still to provide cheap recreational fixed wing flying for uniformed people serving in the Shoalhaven, but we also do allow a limited number of civilians.
“In terms of private pilots we’ve trained in excess of 100.”
To celebrate the years of aviation a cocktail reception at the Fleet Air Arm Museum will be held for members, senior military personnel and government representatives.
“The next day [Sunday, May 10] we have an invitation fly-in,” Mr Folkes said.
Mr Folkes said that was particularly special.
“Because this is a military air field, access for civilian aircraft is very restricted and normally not allowed but for this event we have extended invitations to five local aviation groups and have given them the opportunity to join us for the day,” he said.
“We’re expecting around 30 aircraft.”
South Coast Recreational Flying Club, Berrima District Aero Club, Illawarra Flyers based at Albion Park, RAAF Richmond and RAAF Williamtown flying clubs were invited to celebrate over a barbecue lunch.
The club will also celebrate its tender to provide flying training for ADFA Navy midshipmen.
“These are people who are going to be future pilots or merchant warfare officers,” Mr Folkes said.
“But it will be four years before they get to their basic aviation course. This was seen as way of keeping those prospective aviators motivated to achieve their initial ADFA qualification before they go through with their aviation course.
“The general aviation environment in Australia is unfortunately contracting and you see that through airfields closing and the pressures of developments around airfields causing problems.
“We are very fortunate to have navy support to be here at the naval air station and we recognise very much what our roots were, as a navy flying club, and we try to give as much support as we can back to the navy through these sorts of programs.”
Albatross Aero Club has seven aircraft ranging from the basic Cessna 150 trainer to more complex planes.
“We aim to have a fleet of aircraft that allows the continuation of your piloting skills.”