Southern Cross Award Winner
Temora Aviation Museum (TAM)
The Temora Aviation Museum is the brainchild of businessman David Lowy AM. In many ways, the museum came about by accident and what started off as one privately owned warbird aircraft, has become recognised as a world-class tribute to Australian military aircraft, pilots and engineers. With all of the Museum’s aircraft collection airworthy, this institution is truly unique and hosts regular flying events for the education and enjoyment of visitors.
In the late nineteen eighties, early nineties, David Lowy was a keen aerobatic pilot with his sights set on winning the Australian Unlimited Championship. Based in Sydney, David and other competitive aerobatic pilots were finding it difficult to train at metropolitan airports due to congestion and noise issues. The immense discipline and need for much practice resulted in David and other competitors visiting many country airports to practice on the weekends, however, many towns quickly grew tired of the noise and disruption and the group were soon made unwelcome.
Then the town of Temora came to the rescue. Temora has had an active aero club since 1946 when the RAAF establishment, No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School closed at war’s end. The aerobatic flyers were invited to come and train in Temora and were enthusiastically welcomed by the Temora Aero Club, Council and town residents. David felt that Temora was perfect for the task with its good flying weather, flat terrain and uncontrolled airspace.
From 1993 David and fellow competitors trained in Temora and he reached his goal of Australian Aerobatic Unlimited Champion five years later in 1998. While he then retired from competition, he needed another challenge. Having already purchased a Cessna A-37B Dragonfly, he decided to build a hangar at Temora, acquire some more warbird aircraft and invite visitors to experience these magnificent machines.
One day, David noticed quite a number of people had turned up to watch a series of impromptu warbird flying displays. To enlighten the audience, he grabbed his guitar amplifier, speaker and microphone from the house and persuaded a friend to commentate and that became the foundation of the museums flying activities.
Over the following two years, hangars and display facilities were constructed and staff and volunteers arranged. Temora Aviation Museum was incorporated in 1999 with a Governing Committee of a group of highly experienced and diverse people. The first hangar was completed in February 2000 and opened to public viewing in June that year. Refurbishment of the original guardhouse from No. 10 EFTS and construction of new display buildings which include a theatrette, exhibition areas, gift shop and a children’s playground and picnic area were completed in August 2001.
Stage 3 of the development, which incorporated an aircraft display hangar, was completed in November 2001 with the original hangar converted into a specialised aircraft maintenance and restoration facility. Other hangar and workshop facilities have been added along with refinements to enhance public display areas and hospitality.
In 2004, with the assistance of the Federal Government and Temora Shire Council, a new 2,040m sealed runway was constructed. This runway was more aligned with prevailing winds and of sufficient length and strength to allow operations of the more modern fighter jets along with larger passenger aircraft bringing visitors to the Museum and regular airshows.
Temora Aviation Museum has a collection of fourteen aircraft, all airworthy and flown regularly as part of the Museum’s Showcase days and Warbirds Downunder airshow. The aircraft heritage ranges from the early days of World War II through the Korean conflict and Vietnam. The aircraft collection includes Tiger Moth, Wirraway and Ryan trainers, the Boomerang, Hudson bomber and two legendary Spitfires. The Museum also operates many jets including the Vampire, Meteor, Canberra, two Dragonfly’s and the RAAF owned CAC Sabre.
In 2011 the Museum held its first Warbirds Downunder Airshow which provided visitors a full day of flying activities and displays with the support of the RAAF and many friends with their warbird aircraft. Warbirds Downunder attracts 15,000 people from around Australia and the world. Temora’s population of some 5,000 is quadrupled over the period.
Education is a priority for Temora Aviation Museum. Its aim is to provide a greater understanding of the aircraft and the people involved with the defence of our country. In particular, education programs developed by the Museum are directed to youth with special kits and material aimed at school visits and projects. Since the museum opened, some 5,000 school students have visited and participated in these special instructional programs.
The local Temora community has been instrumental in the establishment and success of the museum. The Temora Shire Council has supported the Museum from the beginning and as the airport owner and operator, directly assisted in its development. Many local residents have volunteered their time and skills to assist with the public displays, flying days and behind the scenes operations. A great cooperative spirit has been fostered with local organisations who provide the food and beverage service in the Mess Hall in return for a donation.
Temora Aviation Museum has achieved great success having received over 500,000 visitors and conducted in excess of 232 flying days and airshows. The aircraft collection has travelled to, and performed at, all major Australian airshows and are regularly flown in tribute to Australia’s service men and women at special memorials and ANZAC Day ceremonies.
From its humble beginnings, David Lowy has developed and funded the Temora Aviation Museum into an icon of Australia’s military flying heritage which has not only brought much enjoyment to the visitors attending the displays and emotional tears from the veterans who flew and maintained the aircraft, but also provided knowledge and inspiration to our youth.
The Australian Aviation Hall of Fame proudly presents the 2015 “Southern Cross Award”, honouring an organisation which has made an outstanding contribution to aviation, to the Temora Aviation Museum.