By Tracey Matthies
AVIATION isn’t all plain sailing and as Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks enters “the second half of my 70 years”, it’s time for him to take a step back.
The Leongatha Aerodrome stalwart is selling his three Liberty XL-2 planes.
Although still working virtually full-time as a planning and development consultant, Nigel said age, the global financial crisis and now COVID-19 had led to the decision.
“If things go bad, it just stops, it kills the [aviation] industry,” he said.
Nigel’s long association with the Leongatha Aerodrome began in 1985 when he was contest director for the Victorian aerobatic championships. The aerodrome was still owned by the local council and Nigel parked his caravan on the airfield – not the runway – for the Australia Day weekend event.
He now has his own hangar housing four tenant aircraft as well as the three he has for sale.
A former part-owner of an aviation school at Moorabbin, Nigel came across the Liberty in his native England and became an Australian distributor, making good sales in 2006, 2007 and early into 2008.
His three demonstrator models, each with less than 300 flying hours and always with him in the cockpit, have always been stored in a hangar.
According to Nigel, the Libertys are “absolutely state-of-the-art”, 20th century design and best suited for advanced training in flying schools.
“They can be used for basic training, and they have been, but it’s probably better if a raw student does get some hours in a Piper or Cessna first,” Nigel explained.
In fact, he has had interest from flying schools in Indonesia and Australia, and he could also send them to America in shipping containers. The planes have been in storage with their fuel and oil drained and wings removed for several years – although Nigel points out the wings can be put back on by three people in just 15 minutes.
Sadly, Nigel’s retirement means he won’t complete his circumnavigation of Australia, but he still has plenty of memories to treasure.
“One of the really fun things to do, which very few people get to see, is to fly the coastline of Australia along the beach at 500 feet. I’ve done about a third of the whole Australian coastline,” he said.
“Yeah, I’m in the second half of my 70 years and I’ve just got to be careful and sensible.”
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