Historic aircraft from Ballina heads to international show
FINALLY, Gary Faulks made it to the Avalon International Air Show in Victoria with his 1957-built aircraft.
It's not that the Auster J/5G Super Autocar is unreliable, but every other time the Ballina pilot has been invited by the Antique Aircraft Association of Australia to display his historic aircraft, it's had mechanical troubles.
The Auster was named after the Roman name for "south wind" and Gary this year made it south.
But this magnificent man in his flying machine said he was pleased to finally get to the Avalon show, held at the end of February.
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The British-produced Auster was made between the 1930s through to the late 1950s, with various models. Gary's aircraft was assembled at Sydney.
Gary estimates there are about half a dozen of the 5G model in Australia and about 50-60 Austers.
Gary bought his aircraft in 1985 after being given a tip-off that was for sale.
The previous and first owner of the four-seater aircraft had it stored in a hay shed at his property near Gulgong in the central west of NSW.
While Gulgong was once known as the town on the $10 note, it cost more for Gary to buy the historic aircraft.
He admits he has an expensive hobby, also owning a 1970s Kawasaki Bell helicopter and a 1970s Pitts Special aircraft.
When Gary heard about the aircraft being for sale, "I didn't muck about - I went and bought it."
The aircraft has had the Irish linen on the fuselage and wings replaced with a modern product, but the rest of the aircraft is original.
"It's a great old machine," he said.
It took Gary and fellow pilot, 83-year-old Marie Lloyd, about eight hours to fly to Avalon, travelling at 90 knots (180 km/h).
For Maurie, flying in the Auster brought back memories.
He began flying in an Auster in Sydney in the 1950s.