Where Angels and Dirt, Meet
The Blue Mountains is an area of western Sydney that is rugged, awe-inspiring, fast becoming well populated, yet in many aspects, isolated and off the beaten track, almost impenetrable.
The range is part of the an ancient fault line push up of an earth shattering situation that occurred thousands of years ago and today is an Australian wonderland of wilderness and metropolis living in what can only be termed, a highly populated, fragile symbiosis.
A symbiosis that needs our help in supporting the Angel Station in the Sky.
Roads and rail, schools, businesses and residences are entwined, interspersed and attached to the mountains like lamprey to a shark.
It has taken decades of road building to get across a mountain range that not only thwarted the best of valiant efforts of the most hardy pioneer adventurers, but still today requires further mega millions of dollars and modern machinery at least another decade, or so, to get one singe multi-laned highway, across it from east to west.
Katoomba, the city town in the clouds, perched precariously on a massive cliff edge, is now one of NSWs most iconic and historic metropolises, but to get there from the coast requires a drive through town/suburbs that are almost continuous from the foot of the mountains upwards.
From Penrith to Mount Victoria, the great western highway is dotted with villages, towns and for Katoomba, almost a city. Electric trains and goods trains travel the railway. Trucks, cars and buses, ply the one road east to west and west to east in a continuous 24hour stream of steel encapsulated humanity.
Yet between Bankstown/Camden to Lithgow/Bathurst, there is scant ability to get into this area from the air. Scant ability to rescue gravely ill children, road accident victims, or to provide expeditious disaster responses.
In fact there is only one such facility and this is Katoomba Airport. A well maintained, privately managed, dirt air-strip that has for many years, not only served the emergency services such as bushfire response personnel, search and rescue, police operations, vast aerial tourism and military exercises, but has been the life saving airport for many, many seriously ill and injured people.
This airport is not only the most important airfield in the entire Blue Mountains, it is the only airport.
Katoomba Airport is about to become even more important, for the developers have finally been able to have Hoxton Park aerodrome turned into a housing development and in the very near future, this doomed suburban airstrip will be but a memory, applying even more importance on Katoomba.
Any pilot who has regularly flown in, out and around Katoomba, will be well aware from the radio chatter, at just how often the emergency aerial services are in and out of this strip.
Katoomba Airfield has seen the envelopment of its borders turn into National Park terrain and here to, the incredible worth of the airstrip is again show-cased, by providing short flight, magnificent unparalleled view, tourism across this vast vista.
In the context of environmentalism, this well managed dirt strip is not just a complimentary addition to the facilities in the surrounding National Park area, but is a facility that leaves the least footprint possible by humans, whilst allowing Park enjoyment by many who otherwise would be unable; this being from the elderly, to frail, to infirmed, to time poor, but all with an insatiable desire, and right, to experience the splendours.
Katoomba Airfield is under the management of a Corporation called Katoomba Airfield Pty Limited. ABN 87 111 785 874. It is a company that has as directors, people that have been involved in the light aircraft industry for almost as long as such craft have been flying.
They are people with a passion for flying and a desire to see others follow in that passion. They have spent time, effort and money in maintaining the airstrip in an amazingly fine condition, yet have studiously maintained the bush setting that keeps Katoomba Airport part of the mountain scenery, not a citified aeronautical metropolis. They do not seek immeasurable wealth, but rather the continuance of existence.
It is an airstrip that provides flying experience to a limited number of hardy students who are adventurous enough to learn a style of flying that prepares them well in advance of flat land students, for the terrain and environment are such that commands a special healthy respect, like no other. A level of understanding leaves with each student taught at Katoomba airstrip, like almost no other in the nation.
It provides the experienced traversing pilot with an oasis in times of dire need and emergency, where otherwise, no other exists.
The government lease for this airstrip emanates from within the halls of the NSW Department of Lands. A department that is city-centric, yet signs and ratifies country documentation. A department that needs to be refreshed and reminded while being again made acutely aware, of just how important Katoomba airstrip and its current management team are, not just to the whole Blue Mountains area and populous, but to the entire flying fraternity of a nation; pilots and passengers alike.
The department of lands needs to be able to clearly see, that to even consider the need to deliberate whether the future existence of the Katoomba Airstrip is an issue, (other than rubber stamping the next term of the lease for its continuing unparalleled service as a privately well managed, community infrastructure), is not just important, but undeniably, absolutely, unequivocally, essential.
For those of you local to the Blue Mountains, take a drive up to the airstrip and have a chat to Rod Hay. The man himself is an Australian Icon in his own right. What we from the bush call, “True Blue.”
For those wider-a-field, there is now a need to show support for this lone aero service infrastructure nestled symbiotically within the bush a little adjacent of the Hydra Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.
Take out your atlas and maps, hop onto Google earth and traverse the Blue Mountains and you will see just how strategically important this tiny airstrip is, not to just Katoomba, or Blackheath; oh no, but it is an airstrip regularly involved in the life and death struggles that all to often frequent the entire region and potentially is so, for all others who inhabit and traverse it.
Katoomba Airfield and its management team at the end of this year need to renew their crown lease for the land on and around the strip. To do this, there is a need for the Department of Lands to be convinced that such an airstrip is still very much a necessity and essential which is backed by the people.
The argument for this airfield is so overwhelming, that it is inconceivable that this lease would even be considered for non renewal, but we are dealing with bureaucracy and we all know where that can lead, especially given the decisions handed down at the State level across the board of recent times and Ministries.
Public support is the order of the day and it is an order that we all need to consider being heard over.
Contact Rod Hay on 02 47881174 Mbl 0418 964807
Write to the Management team of the Company at;
P.O. Box 222
Visit the airstrip at 178-180 Grand Canyon Rd, Medlow Bath, NSW
Google the airstrip at 33dg 40 min sth, 150dg 19min east.
Fly into Katoomba for a day’s sight seeing adventure and acquaint yourself with the strip while giving your support.
For armchair pilots, search the Internet under the criteria of “Katoomba Airstrip” to see what we have said here, is but a taste of how important and invaluable this aero-infrastructure is to the whole NSW society.
This is not just about the Blue Mountains. It is about every person in this nation that gets into an aeroplane and flies, or intends to fly in the future. For one day, this small airstrip may (god forbid) mean the difference between pilot and passengers landing safely while suffering a problem with an aircraft, or another airstrip 60 plus miles away being used as a base to search for those expected to be found as bodies impacted somewhere into the cliffs and bush of the surrounding Blue Mountains.
All for the want of an airstrip