History

01_historyThe first aircraft to land on the present site of the Toowoomba Airport at Wilsonton arrived from Warwick in 1911. By 1928 the site was well established as an airport and the Toowoomba Aero Club had been formed. Qantas was operating a scheduled service from Brisbane/Archerfield to Toowoomba Airport and onto Roma, Charleville and Longreach.

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In 1936 Toowoomba became the first port of call for Australia's first scheduled International flights to London by Qantas. DH86 4 engine bi-planes, the 4 engine international heavy of the day, landed in a Toowoomba paddock enroute to Singapore.

Shortly after the start of World War II, the Toowoomba Aero Club disbanded as a patriotic gesture until 1946. Under the Presidency of Dr Mervyn Hall an Aero Club was re-established and re-named the Darling Downs Aero Club, with a view to being the Aero Club for the entire Darling Downs region and South Western Queensland. A makeshift tent was erected in Bridge Street near the corner of Greenwattle Street and The Royal Queensland Aero Club provided Tiger Moths every weekend to use for flying training. The Darling Downs Aero Club was born!

03_historyNot long after, the first hangar was built in Bridge Street and became the home for the Aero Club for a number of years, until it burnt down. By 1952 the Aero Club engaged a full time Instructor and purchased their first Aeroplane - a Tiger Moth.

In those halcyon days flying training was subsidised by the Federal Government who thought it was advisable for the defence of the Country to have a pool of qualified pilots available to serve in the military. The Department of Civil Aviation believed its function was not only to regulate Aviation but to promote it.

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Sir Donald Anderson ran the Department, and on a visit to Toowoomba, the then President Jack Kelly pointed out to Sir Donald that the Aero Club needed a hangar on the southern side of the newly constructed runway; and it so happened there were plenty of hangars at Oakey. The Department owned the Oakey Airport which had been a major RAAF Base during the War.

In the mid sixties, Sir Donald arranged for the sale to the Aero Club, for the price of 1 pound; one of the Bellman hangars at Oakey, on condition that the Aero Club pay for the removal and reconstruction. Jack Kelly was a builder and arranged just that. The Aero Club constructed the Bellman hangar on the southern side of the Airport in the new Mutze Street, off Greenwattle Street. Not long after the money was found to build a small brick building for its Club rooms on the eastern side of the hangar, having already constructed a lean-to on the western side which contained office space and instructors' rooms.

05_historyAnother hangar which had been built next door was purchased by the Aero Club in the mid-1960s and it became the central point of operations for the Aero Club and still is today. The Club peaked in 1964, the last year of the subsidy scheme, flying over 6000 hours in Tiger Moths, Chipmunks, Austers, Cessna 150s, 172s and a Victa Airtourer.

In early 2000, the Aero Club updated its facilities by extending the original office building offering improved briefing rooms for students.

Today, the principal objective of the Darling Downs Aero Club is the promotion of aviation in Australia and in particular, Southern Queensland. The Aero Club supports aviation in all its forms, emphasising safe, affordable and enjoyable flight. Anyone with an interest in aviation is welcome. If you have never been in an aircraft and would like to experience flight, come along on the last Sunday of the month when flying competitions are held from 2pm.  Spare passenger seats are often available.