Students check out record plane

Everything is in place for an Australian record to be established at the Parkes Airport this Saturday.

Veteran Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilot, Ron Watts will undertake the huge task of the most flights by one pilot in one day - a staggering 140!

Ron held the original record, set two years ago, of 102 flights.

That was set to celebrate 60 years of MAF operations in PNG. 

 It has since been surpassed by Tim Howes, 27, with 122 flights.

Ron, 64, a grandfather of six, is attempting to go even better.

“November 1 this year marks 40 years of MAF in Arnhem Land, and so to celebrate this milestone, I decided I would attempt a new Australian record – 140 flights,” Ron explained to the Champion Post.

“We decided to do it at Parkes, as there is already much interest in MAF (two MAF pilots have come from here). 

“We are calling the event ‘every3minutes’ to highlight the fact that around the clock, there is an MAF aeroplane taking off or landing somewhere in the world every three minutes.

“We are attempting to raise money for a second plane to work in  East Timor.”

Saturday’s record attempt will take about 10 hours of continuous ‘circuits and bumps’.

“The aircraft will take off, fly four legs of a standard 1000 ft circuit then land again, but without stopping, power is applied for another take-off - much the same as when someone is first learning to fly,” Ron explained. 

Each flight will take just over three minutes. 

“I will be taking a short break after every 20 flights,” Ron added.

He will be carrying an official observer (also a licensed pilot) to certify each landing. 

“We have been so very encouraged by the response to our appeal for sponsorship, and we want to thank those who have already been so generous,” Ron said yesterday.

“We are really doing this for the people of Timor-Leste (East Timor).  This second aircraft will just mean so much to them.”

Ron said the organisers would love people to come out to the airport and bring the kids.

“The Aero Club will have a sausage sizzle going, and Air Freight Solutions will have one of their hard-working Australian-built GA8 Airvans open for inspection (same type of aircraft that we are sending to Timor-Leste).

“People will also be able to have their photo taken in a replica of the record-breaking aircraft, try their hand on the MAF Flight Simulator, watch a video of MAF operations from around the world, enjoy complimentary tea or coffee, speak to one of the many MAF staff who will be on hand.”

Or spectactors can just watch Ron as he circles the airport and flies his umpteenth approach, then check the flight tally board!

The record attempt should be complete between 4 and 5pm.

Following the day’s activity at the airport, everyone is warmly invited to an MAF ‘Potluck Dinner’ at the Parkes Christian School, 6 for 6.30pm. 

It will be a ‘bring and share’ type meal – if people with surnames A-L bring a main course, and those who are M-Z bring a dessert, it will work out well. 

Beverages will be provided. 

“It will be an excellent opportunity to see and hear about the great work MAF is doing, not just in Timor-Leste, but around the world,” Ron said. “We are just so encouraged by the way Parkes people have gotten behind this unique event.”

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Ron brought a replica of his plane to the Parkes Christian School so students could see first hand what they are like.

Students were surprised to see it in the playground, and loved the opportunity to test out the cockpit.

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