INTERVIEW WITH PETER LYNCH IN 2013
How did you become involved with the aviation industry and flying, and at what age?
Like most pilot’s I’ve wanted to fly since I was a boy. After graduating from UNSW, in Mining Engineering, I moved straight to the Central Queensland Coalfields, about three hour’s drive south west of Mackay. We all worked very hard in the mining towns, always doing overtime, as there wasn’t much else to do in the small mining towns. A flying school started running lessons on the weekends coming in from Hedlow field near Yeppoon. I did my TIF at age 32, on the 25th September 1992 in a Jabiru. For me flying was about fulfilling a lifelong ambition, being able to get around a big country much quicker and having fun. In many ways the mining industry and GA are very interconnected, without aviation the mining industry in Australia would not survive.
How did you find learning to fly going through the stages of gaining your licenses and approvals – was it easy or challenging for you?
My lessons were on weekends (when I wasn’t working) in the small town of Middlemount specially built for the 2,500 people working at the German Creek Mine. The airstrip was a beautiful fully sealed jet capable wide strip. I learnt in a two seat Jabiru, which in the afternoon heat of Central Queensland, can be difficult to interpret if you are controlling the aircraft or visa versa. Before I made it to my first solo I got busy at work and then the school stopped coming to town so it all became a bit too hard. Eventually I moved to Mackay while working a commute roster for North Goonyella Coal Mines. I took up flying again and Soloed in April 1994 under the instruction of Trish Malberg and Mike Jones in a piper Archer. It took a while before I finally got around to getting my unrestricted licence in April 1997.
I then shopped around for a plane with a desire for a high powered single but came across a twin Comanche. After doing the numbers it was an ideal aircraft. I purchased it in 2000 and quickly got my twin and retractable endorsement, and then type endorsed in the Comanche. I’ve been flying it ever since and still have it, it still runs beautifully and is such a versatile private aircraft. Twin training was a bit of a challenge mainly reacting correctly to an engine failure in various situations and staying truly current. A couple of years ago I decided my family and I were outgrowing the Twin Com and needed something bigger. It may not seem too logical, but I fly for business and for the love of it, so I wanted and aircraft that met all those criteria. The obvious choice a 1948 Grumman Mallard! For me the challenges of flying become personal triumphs, they make us more competent as long as we approach them calmly logically and sensibly.
What do you find the most enjoyable aspect about flying?
For me the most enjoyable aspect of flying is the pure pleasure of getting up in the sky and having the freedom to go virtually anywhere. I love the social side of flying the people you meet the stories they have, how they came to be where they are. I love flyins, roaming around looking at all the different aircraft finding out about them and their pilots and owners. The multi-day events are the best camping with your plane, talking crap around a gathering of pilots sharing stories and half-truths, I had a great time at Ausfly this year and at the Great Eastern Fly-in every year.
What is your most memorable flight experience that you would like to share?
My most enjoyable flying experience would have to be after I bought My Grumman Mallard. The aircraft was in Northern Idaho and I had it ferried to Florida via Covingtion Aircraft in Oklahoma on the way, to get both engines and props fully overhauled. It had some work and avionics done in Florida to finish it off before it had to be ferried to Australia. I went to Florida twice to undertake some intensive training on the plane, far more than is legally required to ensure I was going to be fully capable, competent and comfortable in the aircraft. I did lots of water landings etc with a guy who’d flown many hours in Mallards but even more in Grumman Albatrosses for the US coast guard.
I got my US multi engine land and sea rating then flew the aircraft from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to Merced, CA not far from San Francisco. On the first day we flew 11.3 hours to EL Paso stopping for fuel and food at Pensacola, and Dallas, Fort Worth. The next day we flew 4.2 hrs to Nth Las Vegas Airport via Davis Monthan AFB, went for a test drive in a Carroll Shelby 50th anniversary Super Snake (800hp street legal mustang!) hit the strip that night (bed early of course!). Then the next day I flew the last 2.7 hours to Merced over Area 51 and the grand canyon, and parts of the Hoover Dam, all in my wonderful low time 1948 Grumman Mallard, one of only eight piston engine originals still flying in the world, that’s the best to date but I am looking forward to flying the Mallard around Australia at some stage.
What skill have you gained from flying that you may not have gained, if you had not taken it up?
While engineering is a handy base for the calculations of flying, to me the real skill I have gained is reading and understanding the weather. I still like to talk to a lot of people before I take a long flight about the weather and their thoughts on what might happen. I am still a VFR pilot and I don’t take risks with the weather. I have a very healthy respect for the weather. I intend to enjoy flying all of my life and an extra day to avoid a bad experience is always worth it. I think the real skill is being brave enough to say no I’ll wait and see what it’s like tomorrow. After you’ve experienced some of the weather Central Queensland can dish out in the wet season, you don’t venture too close to storm cells.
What is your most favourite aircraft type and why?
At the moment I really love the Mallard, it’s a true airborne campervan. Lands on land and water, carries heaps (seats up to twelve) six hours endurance at 150 kts at 7,000 ft. Purrs like a lion! Loves Avgas, plan on 60 US Gal/hr total in cruise. Its real comfortable inside the kids can walk around, have fun, play board games across a table, the cockpit is simple and feels like a truck cabin, nice upright seating. Even has roll down windows! And yes no matter where we turn up it turns the heads I guess.
What made you become interested in developing the Evans Head Air Park concept? Can you advise where the planning and building stage is up to at the moment?
Evans Head Aerodrome was our favourite weekend morning flight. A 45 min flight from Brisbane in the Comanche and you’re 300m from a beautiful 20km long pristine beach and a quiet friendly town with some cafes and great meat pies. On one of these visits we ran into the local aviators group who were discussing the future of the aerodrome after the local community had successfully avoided its destruction via a heritage listing. The model development everyone favoured was an airpark. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to mix my passion for aviation with a business interest in property development, it seemed like a good idea at the time and plenty of locals were positive on the concept.
I formed a consortium with some friends and eventually we were selected by a process run by the Richmond Valley Council (RVC) to develop an airpark. Evans Head Airpark has executed a contract to purchase the aerodrome from the RVC and will redevelop it as a multifaceted residential airpark. The project includes the heritage museum in the restored Bellman Hangar, a mixture of aviation related commercial opportunities and residential airpark lots. The business model sees the heritage items become common property under the ownership of the body corporate with an ongoing funding mechanism to ensure the ongoing preservation of those elements. Principally the runways and aprons from WW2, and of course the restoration of the last remaining Bellman Hangar, which has now been completed. The DA process will commence shortly, once completed the development of the first stage can occur. In the first I formed a consortium with some friends and eventually we were selected by a process run by the Richmond Valley Council (RVC) to develop an airpark. Evans Head Airpark has executed a contract to purchase the aerodrome from the RVC and will redevelop it as a multifaceted residential airpark. The project includes the heritage museum in the restored Bellman Hangar, a mixture of aviation related commercial opportunities and residential airpark lots. The business model sees the heritage items become common property under the ownership of the body corporate with an ongoing funding mechanism to ensure the ongoing preservation of those elements. Principally the runways and aprons from WW2, and of course the restoration of the last remaining Bellman Hangar, which has now been completed. The DA process will commence shortly, once completed the development of the first stage can occur.
In the first I formed a consortium with some friends and eventually we were selected by a process run by the Richmond Valley Council (RVC) to develop an airpark. Evans Head Airpark has executed a contract to purchase the aerodrome from the RVC and will redevelop it as a multifaceted residential airpark. The project includes the heritage museum in the restored Bellman Hangar, a mixture of aviation related commercial opportunities and residential airpark lots. The business model sees the heritage items become common property under the ownership of the body corporate with an ongoing funding mechanism to ensure the ongoing preservation of those elements. Principally the runways and aprons from WW2, and of course the restoration of the last remaining Bellman Hangar, which has now been completed. The DA process will commence shortly, once completed the development of the first stage can occur. In the first stage we would like to release a mixture of airpark lots for the first residents and some commercial lots with airside access to see some aviation support businesses get up and running.
How do you feel about the aviation museum that is now coming together at the Evans Head airport? Are you looking at expanding this in the future?
The aviation museum is now up and running in the restored Bellman Hangar a project jointly funded by the airpark company and the RVC. The official opening was on the 25th of August 2013, with ex-RAAF F111 A8-147 as the centrepiece. The restored Bellman Hangar is currently owned by the RVC and the airpark and full ownership will eventually go to the airpark as the project progresses. The most encouraging news is that the separate community based not for profit organisation Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Heritage Aviation Association (EHMAHAA) has attracted many new members and volunteers and represents the pent up community interest in the ongoing importance of the historic significance of the aerodrome. The Museum group are very much looking towards the future and growing both the size of their collection but with a focus on relevance to the history of YEVD. The airpark has identified a much larger site approximately 50,000m2 at the Aerodrome for the location of a much bigger facility to accommodate the expected continued growth and success of the museum. The airpark will facilitate the group’s growth but the future lies in their hands all of which is promising to be very exciting.
What are your views of the current aviation industry in Australia? Can it expand further perhaps bringing more people into the industry? Do you believe your airpark will help bring more people into the industry?
I believe the Australian aviation industry is at a cross roads, but I am optimistic towards the future so long as our regulators and politicians can show some vision. The rapid growth of the RAA and LSA end of the market shows the costs of GA have been stifling growth at the small end in the past. A minimalist approach to regulation would significantly reduce the entry cost barriers to a great number of private and potentially professional individuals. Australia should look more broadly at its role as the educational and training leader in the ASEAN region. We on the doorstep of some of the greatest growth markets in Aviation one of which we hardly even seem to notice, Indonesia. Our nearest neighbour and really what should be our closest friend is responsible for the largest orders for both Airbus and Boeing.
This country is the fourth largest population in the world, and a nation comprised of many islands and is ideally suited to rapid growth in its aviation industry. Indonesia needs many new airports and will experience a rapid change in its airspace activity. All the growth pains Indonesia will experience represent great opportunities for Australia’s Aviation industry to participate and become a true partner and friend. We should be focused on Indonesia not China. The Airpark at Evans Head represents a great opportunity for aviation business to set up for the long term on a freehold land option as opposed to the uncertainties associated with Leasehold we have seen prevail at some of the larger city secondary airports. As regional hubs develop the GA or small end of the industry will tend to move towards these sorts of aerodromes where the costs associated with regional hubs don’t burden an owner operators small aviation business.
How could AOPA and the aviation industry help attract more people to become interested in flying?
AOPA must remain relevant to the greater number of pilots and aircraft operators as possible. It must ensure it is seen as an umbrella organisation for all. In achieving this it could assist the other bodies interface more easily with the regulator and visa versa. If AOPA helps both sides of the equation it will be seen as necessary and then ultimately will be well supported. While flying schools do much marketing to attract new students into their programs AOPA and its members could cover the new potential private pilots and would be commercial pilots in a manner where aviation is showcased as part of other major events activities.
Do you find the regulations and rules imposed on flying a factor in deciding if you want to fly?
I don’t find that regulations and rules as such pose a problem so much as the frequency at which they continue to change. In my view the regulator should try to leave rules and regulation in place without change as long as possible. It is harder to stay up to date with the changes more so than to comply with them.
What goals have you got for the future with your aviation interests and business plans?
I am looking forward to a future where I can continue to increase my involvement in aviation but focusing on projects such as Evans Head Airpark where I can sit within my comfort zone. I see a fantastic opportunity to develop a small scale aircraft manufacturing business in Indonesia where I have managed to develop a strong and reliable business network as part of my Mining interests. Indonesia will emerge as the powerhouse economy in the ASEAN region over the next decade and Australian manufacturers who make the move to that market early will ultimately be rewarded, the cost of production in Indonesia is already less than China. Australians really need to come to understand that there is a lot more to Indonesia than Bali.
If you would like to see more of Peter’s Mallard seaplane in action see these videos on You Tube – https://www.youtube.com/user/PedroMallard/videos?shelf_id=0&view=0&sort=dd