Maroochy airport turns 60

David Low, left, at the airport opening.

Sunshine Coast Airport and Sunshine Coast Aero Club celebrated 60 years of flights into Sunshine Coast Airport last week.

On 14 August 1959, pilots Roy Kassulke and Bill Edgar flew up to the Maroochy Aerodrome in an HT-2 Hindustani Trainer aircraft to be the first aircraft to land on the new aerodrome, which was then a modest grass strip.

The airstrip was named Maroochy Aerodrome by David Low, Chairman of the Maroochy Shire Council, but the airstrip was so isolated – there were no houses anywhere near the airstrip – that there wasn’t any access from Maroochydore, with club members having to travel via Nambour.

Low’s bold vision was to transform the inaccessible, isolated strip of marshy coastal land into a significant airport. His objective for the airstrip was to “open up the near North Coast (as the Sunshine Coast was known) to people using light planes, allowing people interested in buying land to fly in, and open the way for this rich district to fly out primary produce to southern markets.”

The vision was accelerated in 1961, when a sealed runway was opened suitable for aircraft up to the Fokker F27 Friendship, and with the commencement of regular passenger services, the airstrip was renamed Maroochydore Airport. Upgrades to the runway and the construction of a new terminal building in 1997 saw the name changed officially to Sunshine Coast Airport.

In 2020, Sunshine Coast Airport will enter a whole new era when a new 2,450 metre runway is commissioned to allow operation of larger, wide-bodied aircraft flying direct from additional domestic ports, Asia and the Pacific.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary, the first Cessna to fly in Australia, a 1936 Cessna C34 Airmaster was provided for the occasion by Steve Padgett and Flight Options both of whom have long term association with the Airport and joined one of the world’s newest aircraft, an Air New Zealand Airbus A320Neo on the tarmac.

Sunshine Coast Airport CEO Andrew Brodie, said that David Low deserved an enormous amount of credit for his foresight regarding the benefits an airport would deliver the region.

“David Low had a vision for the Sunshine Coast as a strong, important region of Queensland, and over the past few years Sunshine Coast Airport has been consistently recognised as one of Australia’s fastest growing airports,” he said.

The Sunshine Coast Aero Club, formerly the Maroochy Aero Club, proudly shared its 60th Anniversary this year with Sunshine Coast Airport. The Club is a not-for-profit providing flight training and a hub for recreational and general aviation on the Sunshine Coast.

All profits from the Sunshine Coast Aero Club are reinvested for members and the broader aviation community, including a recent $100,000 update in club facilities. The expanded and modernised facilities will allow the Aero Club to introduce advanced synthetic training devices (flight simulators), and a newly forged partnership with Flight Options will provide advanced training to a Commercial Pilot standard.

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