Flying in the face of avian safety regs

The splendid Bendigo Art Gallery display of early 20th century aerial photography of Bendigo officially ends Sunday and we strongly suggest a last-minute visit.

NOT SO MAGNIFICENT: The high jinx of a local aviation enthusiast drew the attention of authorities on more than one occasion. Picture: Sofia Iartseva/Shutterstock

NOT SO MAGNIFICENT: The high jinx of a local aviation enthusiast drew the attention of authorities on more than one occasion. Picture: Sofia Iartseva/Shutterstock

Vantage point: aerial views of Bendigo looks at early aviation in Bendigo and its impact on how we developed.

But there’s a reason Down The Mall mentions this. It gives us a link to pass on some aerial high jinx (sorry) which have so far gone untold.

The person at the heart of this chapter of local aviation history shall remain unnamed, but trust us when we say he’s very well known.

Our hero was, and may still be, an aviation enthusiast and many years ago he was regularly seen in our skies in his distinctive vintage aircraft.

But he was … well, a tad casual about aviation regulations. For example, he frequently recited the rule: a chap should never smoke 24 hours before flying or drink within three metres of a plane.

On this one morning, he was swooping over the countryside just north of Bendigo and thought it’d be fun to drop down and take a look at a farm which interested him.

As he buzzed the chook yard, it was obvious he’d angered the farmer who was shaking his fist in the air.

Later, our chap was interviewed by the civil aviation authorities about the incident.

Our bloke went on the defensive: “Why does he think it was me? Did he take down the number on the tail?””

“No, mate,” the aviation official replied. “He recognises your face.”

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Our Biggles was flying to Bendigo from Melbourne in that same vintage plane when bad weather caused confusion about where he was.

He spotted a railway line below him and tried to match it with a map. Without much luck.

I know, he thought, little country stations usually have their names on big signs. He eased lower and lower.

It caused quite a kerfuffle when a vintage aircraft was spotted zipping through Castlemaine railway station at almost-ground level.

We’re believe that ended in another conversation with authorities.