Aviation museum plan ‘takes flight’ in region

Expressions of interest are being called to establish a community working group to assist with the implementation of a museum and heritage precinct at the Mount Gambier Regional Airport.

Following a public meeting on Monday evening, it was decided to progress to the next stage of the project.

Aviation enthusiast Ian Fritsch would like to see the project come to fruition and has been working towards developing the masterplan.

“Development of the masterplan is currently under way,” Mr Fritsch said.

Together with fellow enthusiast and airport employee, Adam Branford, a draft Mount Gambier Airport History and Heritage Masterplan has been developed.

The plan highlights the strategic vision, heritage value and proposed projects.

However, the pair are looking to further expand on the plan with the assistance of interested community members.

Those unable to attend the recent meeting and would like to be involved are also encouraged to submit an expression of interest.

Around 20 community members, including Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin and Independent Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell, were in attendance.

Mr Branford made a presentation on the history of the airport and aviation in the area with insight into ideas for the museum and heritage precinct.

Following the presentation was a question-and-answer session and the opportunity to brainstorm ideas.

Key projects discussed included relocation and refurbishment of the former flight office and crew room building for use as the museum, static and interactive displays, memorial wall and entrance signage.

Mr Fritsch said the master plan will focus on the implementation of a number of heritage focussed projects aimed to develop an awareness of the important role the airport has played in the local area.

“There will be a particular focus on the airport’s involvement as a RAAF training base during the Second World War,” he said.

Mr Fritsch has secured a group of individuals with specific skill sets to assist in developing the plan.

“In these early stages of developing the masterplan and establishing goals for the project, a group of individuals with specific skill sets in budgeting, funding, planning and advocacy has been formed to get the project under way,” he said.

Mr Fritsch said a second group of individuals is being sought to form a community working group.

This group would be responsible for aiding with the planning and implementation of the planned projects.

“We are seeking nominations from a broad cross-section of the community in order to have a balanced and diverse range of skills to progress this plan,” he said.

Mr Pasin supported the project and offered advice on the importance of developing a strong master plan.

“The concept is a very good one. Consider if there is sufficient interest in the concept to establish a working group to do the planning that is required,” Mr Pasin said.

“You have a facility here that attracts a lot of people. You’re on an absolute winner.”

Mr Pasin suggested commemorating the 4000 that trained, rather than solely those that passed away at the site during training.

“Families will want to come to this facility to see a memorial of a loved one. Presumably there are number who died in action as well,” he said.

“I think people will make the pilgrimage.”

Meanwhile, Mr Bell brought the group’s attention to funding.

“Part of the plan is to have accurate costings to stand the best chance of attracting funding,” Mr Bell said.

It is envisaged the masterplan will outline a 10-year program for the creation and maintenance of the precinct.

Expressions of interest close on July 29. For more information contact Ian Fritsch or Adam Branford on 8725 1112.

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