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Mount Gambier Airport: A Journey Through Time

Explore the rich history of Mount Gambier Airport through this comprehensive timeline. From its humble beginnings in the 1910s to its pivotal role during World War II, and the evolution of its flight schools, this timeline chronicles significant events, from the arrival of the first passenger flight to the opening of modern terminals.

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9th February 1917

Basil Watson visits Mount Gambier in a homemade aircraft similar to a Sopwith Pup. Less than 2 months later, Watson was killed when went into the sea near Laverton.

27th November 1919

First Passenger flight arrived in Mount Gambier in a twin seat DH-6 biplane from the Aero Flight Company.


Sometime in 1921

Australian Flying Corps SE 5A landed in Mount Gambier.

Sometime in 1927

Lieutenant H. C. Miller flew from Adelaide to Mount Gambier along the coast in a DH-9.

5th April 1928

Captain H. C. Miller arrives in an eight seat DH-61 to commence a regular air service. The aircraft was named ‘Old Gold’ and soon become a regular fixture in the local skies.

Sometime in 1928

Mount Gambier’s first aerodrome came into being at Peweena. Stan May from May & Davis secured a 2 year lease from W. and J. Kennedy.

8th January 1929

Arrival of Gypsy Moth to Mount Gambier for the new passenger service. The Moth was escorted from Adelaide by the Commercial Aviation Company’s Fokker six seater airliner.

16th July 1929

Announcement by May and Davis that another Gypsy Moth to be purchased and that Mount Gambier would be the HQ of a passenger service.


10th February 1930

Arrival of new Gypsy Moth to Mount Gambier.

April 1930

Daily passenger air service commenced between Adelaide and Mount Gambier, and Melbourne and Mount Gambier.

21st May 1930

Mount Gambier’s first Airport officially opened. Over 1000 people attended the Aviation Day opening celebrations. Organisation of the day was compiled by Australian Aerial Services, the Shell Oil company and the Argus newspaper. 12 aircraft attended.

6th April 1931

The first local Air Pageant was held in Mount Gambier. Over 5000 people came out to watch the 12 assembled aircraft complete flying and safety demonstrations. The day included a 90 mile air-race between Kingston and Mount Gambier. The race was won in 48 minutes by L. Martulich in a Mk II Cirrus Moth.

19th November 1933

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith arrives in his famous ‘Southern Cross’ monoplane. Well over 1000 people assembled to see the famed airman and his aircraft.

29th October 1935

Adelaide airways commences their inter-capital air service between Adelaide – Mount Gambier and Melbourne in a Short Scion aircraft. The service ran for 4 days a week and was piloted by Flight Lieutenant Kirkman.

2nd June 1936

Announcement from May and Davis that they had purchased 164 acres for the establishment of a new larger airport.

October 1936

Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation established.

23rd January 1937

Centenary Aerial Pageant held at Mount Gambier Aerodrome featuring a great display of modern aircraft including the new Dakota DC3.

May 1937

A small local homebuilt monoplane was test flown at the aerodrome. Mr Lance Sporer from Glencoe built his aircraft known as the ‘Henderson’ in this workshop at home.

1st July 1937

Australian National Airways Dragon Rapide DH 9 ‘Monana’ crashes at Mount Gambier after hitting a windmill while coming in to land. Pilot A. Brown was dazed but conscious.

August 1937

Australian National Airways decide to discontinue their Mt Gambier service.

13th November 1938

Felix Mueller’s Parachute Descent, Sunday at 1630. Mt Gambier Airfield.


With the onset of the Second World War, Australian Defence analysts commence looking for potential bases should the need to upgrade facilities arise.

March 1939

First flight of the Australian Wirraway took place.

July 1939

RAAF making constant use of Aerodrome

Additional 33 hectares of land purchased on the Southern end of the airfield to enable runways to be extended to 1200 meters.

8th August 1939

Mount Gambier Airfield used as an advanced base for extensive aerial manoeuvres by the RAAF. Nine Avro Anson’s and 67 personnel arrived to participate in the activity. One Australian made Wirraway Aircraft landed as part of the manoeuvres. It was the first Wirraway landing on a country aerodrome.

23rd September 1939

Senior officers from the RAAF visit Mount Gambier aerodrome, fuelling speculation that the airfield may become a RAAF base of some sort.

October 1939

The Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) was announced.

6th December 1939

A tender submitted by Ballarat’s S.J. Weir is accepted for the establishment of a RAAF Air Training School at Mount Gambier.


Early 1940

Comprehensive drawings made up for the establishment of the base and plans put in place for acquisition of the airfield from its civil owners.

April 1940

First of the Australian EATS pilot trainees were inducted.

mid to late 1940

Construction of the No 2 Air Observers School, RAAF Mount Gambier took place.


6th February 1941

No 2 AOS officially formed when an advanced party of about 60 personnel arrived at the Mount Gambier Aerodrome.

Commander Shaw arrives by air in a Moth Minor A21/14

25th February 1941

Avro Anson’s R339, R3512 and R3529 arrive at No 2 AOS from the Wireless Air Gunners School. These were the first Ansons to be based at Mount Gambier.

26th February 1941

DeHavilland-84 Dragon A34-4 arrives at No 2 AOS from No 1 AOS, Cootamundra.

27th February 1941

Avro Anson R3598 and DeHavilland-84 Dragon A34-1 arrive at No2 AOS from Laverton.

1st March 1941

RAAF Ball held at the Barn Palais.

6th March 1941

The first course of Air Observers commenced at No 2 AOS Mount Gambier. First intake consisted of 46 trainees and 3 Wireless Operators. Officially known as Course 10

8th March 1941

No 2 AOS aircraft involved in search for three missing fishermen at Port MacDonnell

11th March 1941

Avro Anson’s A4/R3552, A4/R3516 and A4/W1521 arrived from No 2 Service Flying Training School, Wagga Wagga.

DeHavilland-84 Dragon A34-8 arrives at No 2 AOS.

26th March 1941

RAAF Ball at Barn Palais

16th May 1941

Avro Anson’s W1961, W2020 and W2053 arrive at No 2 AOS

28th May 1941

The first course of 44 Air Observers graduate from NO 2 AOS Mount Gambier.

30th May 1941

Fairey Battle Registrations L5044, L5070, L5173, L5358, L5435, L5448, N2233 and KG282 arrive at No 2 AOS.

31st May 1941

Sergeants Mess Inaugural Dinner, No 2 AOS.

6th June 1941

194 recruits completed No 2 Drill Course

25th June 1941

Graduation of Course 2 comprising of 46 airmen.

26th June 1941

Completion of No 3 Drill course comprising 133 recruits

6th July 1941

DeHavilland-84 Dragon A34-6 arrives at No 2 AOS.

12th July 1941

Avro Ansons W1966 and W2020 involved in mid-air collision close to Bishop Road, Mount Gambier. Three personnel killed including F/Lt G. K. Peacock from the RAF. Anson W2020 manages to land safely.

22nd July 1941

RAAF Ball at No 2 AOS

23rd July 1941

45 Airmen from Course 12 completed AOS training and passed to No 2 Bombing and Gunnery School Port Pirie

24th July 1941

34 Aircrew commenced Course 15

8th August 1941

DeHavilland-84 Dragon A34-9 arrives at No 2 AOS.

7th August 1941

No 2 AOS RAAF ‘Wings On Parade’.

18th August 1941

DeHavilland-84 Dragons A34-7 and A34-10 arrive at No 2 AOS.

21st August 1941

48 Aircrew commenced Course 16

24th August 1941

45 Aircrew completed Course 13 and passed onto No 2 Bombing and Gunnery School Port Pirie.

5th September 1941

The Governor of South Australia, Sir Malcolm Harvey arrive to inspect unit.

14th September 1941

No 2 AOS RAAF Revue titled ‘Sky Rockets’ at the Ozone Theatre.

15th September 1941

No 2 AOS Cocktail Party and Dance. Farewell to 14 course and welcome to No 11 course.

16th September 1941

45 Airmen from Course 14 completed AOS training and passed to No 2 Bombing and Gunnery School Port Pirie

October 1941

Avro Anson’s A4/20, A4/21, A4/42, A4/48, N4868, N1331, R3525, R3539, W1559 and W2371 arrive at No 2 AOS

31st October 1941

Airmen’s Club Dance at the Mt Gambier Civic Hall

13th November 1941

42 Aircrew completed AOS Course 16, and passed onto No 2 Bombing and Gunnery School Port Pirie.

14th November 1941

97 Aircrew commenced Course 19

10th December 1941

48 Aircrew completed AOS Course 17 and passed onto No 2 Bombing and Gunnery School Port Pirie.

11th December 1941

95 Aircrew commenced Course 20

18th December 1941

No 2 AOS RAAF Mt Gambier Christmas Revue titled ‘Whirlaway’ at the Ozone Theatre.


19th January 1942

Service rationing commences at No 2 AOS.

5th February 1942

96 Aircrew commenced Course 21

19th February 1942

Japanese forces attack Darwin Harbour

4th March 1942

United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) arrives at No 2 AOS for training and maintenance.

26th March 1942

American P39 Air-Cobra crashes into farmland near Benara. Pilot Lieutenant Walker parachuted out and landed safely.

10th April 1942

Personnel of USAAC Moved on.

30th April 1942

Course 24 AOS commences

20th May 1942

Avro Anson W2020 crashed at Eversley, Mt Cole Victoria, killing four crew. The lone survivor, LAC F. C. Pott only received a broken arm.

Course 22B ‘Chuck Out’ dinner.

28th May 1942

AOS Course 22 Completed and passed on. AOS Course No 25 commences

2nd June 1942

Founding Wing Commander R. H. Shaw relinquished command of No 2 AOS and sent to HQ Southern Area. H. T. Hammond resumed the WC posting at No 2 AOS.

14th June 1942

67 Squadron commenced seaward operations from Mount Gambier as part of No 2 AOS.

23rd June 1942

Notification received that all home leave passes and free travel warrants suspended until further notice.

24th June 1942

Link Trainer A13-25 allocated to unit.

Course No 23 completed training and passed on.

7th July 1942

Black out tests completed in Mount Gambier. Two aircraft made aerial surveys of Mt Gambier to test effectiveness of blacked out areas.

10th July 1942

Course 24A Pass Out Dinner at the Trocadero Café, Mt Gambier.

17th July 1942

No 2 AOS Sergeant’s Mess Social and Dance.

22nd July 1942

Course 24 passed out. Of 99 starters, 96 completed successfully.

23rd July 1942

Course 27 commenced.

11th August 1942

Avro Anson AW678 crashed at Reedy Creek near Kingston SE. All five crew members killed instantly. The cause of the crash remains unknown.

14th August 1942

Over 500 attend an Invitation RAAF ball held at the Mount Gambier Civic Centre to raise funds for No 2 AOS’s recreation facilities.

20th August 1942

Course 25 passed out. Of 101 starters, 97 successfully completed.

21st August 1942

Course 28 commenced.

16th September 1942

Course 26 passed out. Of 96 starters, 88 successfully completed.

17th September 1942

Detachment of 97 Squadron arrives to commence operations over the sea.

Course 29 commences at No 2 AOS

8th October 1942

Course 27B Pass Out Dinner at Jens? Mt Gambier.

13th October 1942

Enemy Submarine detected by No 2 AOS Avro Anson off the coast near Cape Northumberland. All training flights cancelled the next day, with aircraft diverted to sea Patrols immediately.

14th October 1942

Course 27 passed out. Of 94 starters, 88 successfully completed.

15th October 1942

Course 30 commences.

4th November 1942

Course 28B Pass Out Dinner at the Trocadero Café, Mt Gambier.

11th November 1942

Course 28 passed out. Of 94 starters, 92 successfully completed.

12th November 1942

Course 31 commences.

31st November 1942

Course 29A Pass Out Dinner

1st December 1942

Course 32 commences.

7th December 1942

Course 29 passed out. Of 92 starters, 85 successfully completed.


6th January 1943

Course 30 passed out. Of 95 starters, 90 successfully completed

7th January 1943

Course 33 commences.

18th January 1943

Practice Air Raid alert carried out

26th January 1943

Course 31A Graduation Dinner at the Trocadero Café, Mt Gambier

4th February 1943

Course 31 passed out. Of 99 starters, 90 successfully completed

25th February 1943

Course 32A Pass Out Dinner at the Trocadero Café, Mt Gambier

3rd March 1943

Course 32 passed out. Of 103 starters, 96 successfully completed

4th March 1943

Course 35 commences.

20th March 1943

2nd WAAAF Anniversary Luncheon at the Civic Hall, Mt Gambier

22nd March 1943

Course 33A Farewell Course Dinner at the Trocadero Café, Mt Gambier

29th March 1943

Fire extensively damages some of the officer’s mess and anteroom at No 2 AOS. Took over an hour to put out. Cause of fire unknown.

31st March 1943

Course 33 passed out. Of 103 starters, 92 successfully completed

1st April 1943

Course 36 commences.

19th April 1943

Wing Commander H. T. Hammond relinquished command of No 2 AOS and sent to RAAF Command Richmond. I. S. Podger resumed the WC posting at No 2 AOS.

29th April 1943

Course 37 commences.

20th May 1943

Avro Anson crashed near Nhill Victoria. All five crew members killed instantly. 

26th May 1943

Course 35 passed out. Of 107 starters, 82 successfully completed

27th May 1943

Sgt G. D. Abbott lost his life at Port Macdonnell. Presumed Drowned

1st June 1943

No 2 AOS hosts an Amateur Boxing and Professional Wresting night in Mt Gambier.

23rd June 1943

Course 36 passed out. Of 103 starters, 85 successfully completed

24th June 1943

Course 39 commenced with 108 trainees.

Course No 6 commenced with 68 trainees

31st July 1943

Wing Commander H. T. Hammond relinquished command of No 2 AOS and sent to RAAF HQ North Eastern Area. F. Headlam resumed the WC posting at No 2 AOS.

22nd July 1943

Course 37 passed out. Of 106 starters, 88 successfully completed

Course No 7 commenced training with 62 trainees.

23rd July 1943

Course 40 commenced with 106 trainees.

9th August 1943

No 2 AOS Milk bar officially opened.

18th august 1943

Course 38 passed out. Of 108 starters, 101 successfully completed

Course 41 commenced with 105 trainees

19th August 1943

Course No 8 commences with 71 trainees.

Two aircraft from No 2 AOS involved in mid-air collision as a result of close formation flying during a navigational exercise.

21st August 1943

Federal Election day with polling booths located in the gymnasium at No 2 AOS for all located on base to vote.

31st August 1943

Strength of base: 74 Officers and 883 other ranks = 957 at No 2 AOS.

3rd September 1943

An Avro Lancaster arrives at Mount Gambier for a public relations exercise. Leaflets were dropped all over town to publicise the need for more RAAF recruits for the war effort. 

Recently installed station amplifying system bought into operation.

4th September 1943

Detachment of RAAF and WAAAF took place in Mount Gambier in connection with Civil Defence celebrations

5th September 1943

One aircraft took off at dawn to search for source of reported explosion off the coast of Beachport. Nothing was located.

15th September 1943

Course 39 passed out. Of 108 starters, 89 successfully completed

Course 42 commenced with 110 trainees

16th September 1943

Course No 9 commenced with 66 trainees.

8th October 1943

Informal Dance to celebrate the opening of the new Officer’s Mess, No 2 AOS

13th October 1943

Course 40 passed out. Of 106 starters, 101 successfully completed

11th November 1943

Course 41 passed out. Of 105 starters, 93 successfully completed

Course No 11 commenced with 58 trainees.

19th November 1943

Army Mobile Chemical Warfare party arrives at No 2 AOS to carry out practical ad visual demonstrations in gases and chemical warfare.

Wing Commander F. Headlam relinquished command of No 2 AOS and sent to RAAF HQ No 2 BAGS Port Pirie.

20th November 1943

Course No 12 commenced with 55 trainees.

26th November 1943

Dance in the Sergeant’s Mess, No 2 AOS.

30th November 1943

Course 42 passed out. Of 110 starters, 93 successfully completed

10th December 1943

WC F. A. Wittscheibe resumes the command posting at No 2 AOS.


10th January 1944

Course No 13 commenced with 62 trainees.

12th January 1944

Course No 6 passed out. Of 68 starters, 49 successfully completed.

14th January 1944

Serious fires in the Wandilo/Suttontown area result in members of the No 2 AOS assisting the fire-fighting efforts.

21st January 1944

Another serious fire on the slopes of Mount Gambier again necessitated the assistance of personnel from No 2 AOS.

29th January 1944

Word received of possible enemy submarine near Beachport. 7 aircraft from No 2 AOS assisted in unsuccessfully searching for the submarine.

31st January 1944

Avro Anson AW787 crashes into Lady Julia Percy Island, Victoria.

All four crew members missing presumed dead. The bodies were never found.

3rd February 1944

Course No 7 passed out. Of 62 starters, 37 successfully completed.

Course No 14 commenced with 62 trainees.

11th February 1944

Refuelling petrol tanker was destroyed by fire during refuelling process.

2nd March 1944

Course No 8 passed out. Of 71 starters, 47 successfully completed

6th March 1944

Course No 15 commenced with 64 trainees.

18th March 1944

WAAAF 3rd birthday celebrations consisted of a march through the main street. Parties participating included WAAAF and RAAF as well as other services.

30th March 1944

Course No 16 commenced with 46 trainees. This was the first of the new 32 week courses.

9th April 1944

Air Commodore A. H. Colby attends No 2 AOS for the ‘Wings Parade’ on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the Empire Air Training Scheme.

Course No 9 passed out. Of 66 starters, 45 successfully completed.

13th June 1944

Search carried out for alleged ship on fire. No sightings made.

1st May 1944

Works commenced to seal the three main aerodrome runways.

27th May 1944

Course No 10 passed out. Of 63 starters, 45 successfully completed.

29th May 1944

A number of Kittyhawks and Beauforts pass through No 2 AOS on exercise.

30th May 1944

Course No 17 commenced with 40 trainees.

24th June 1944

Course No 11 passed out. Of 58 starters, 41 successfully completed.

4th July 1944

Author Alan Marshall arrives at No 2 AOS to give some lectures on ‘Freelance Journalism’

7th July 1944

6 Fairy Battles arrive to stay overnight from Laverton after being diverted from Nhill. The following day they continued their journey through to Port Pirie.

21st July 1944

Course No 12 passed out. Of 55 starters, 33 successfully completed.

29th July 1944

The ‘Emily Livingstone’ WAAAF Leave house officially opened in Mount Gambier.

Boxing and Wrestling tournament held in aid of the RAAF Locker Fund. The current state welter weight champion was fought.

4th August 1944

Unit Concert Party gave a concert in Naracoorte as a fundraiser for the Red Cross.

5th August 1944

All trainees at No 2 AOS asked to consider either voluntarily changing to ground staff or enlisting in the Army.

11th August 1944

Unit Concert Party gave a concert in Millicent as a fundraiser for the Red Cross.

18th August 1944

Course No 13 passed out. Of 62 starters, 27 successfully completed.

15th September 1944

Course No 14 passed out. Of 76 starters, 47 successfully completed.

13th October 1944

Course No 15 passed out. Of 64 starters, 35 successfully completed.

23rd October 1944

Ansett Airways commence air services between Mount Gambier and Melbourne using one Airspeed Envoy aircraft.

8th December 1944

Course No 16 passed out. Of 46 starters, 24 successfully completed.

9th December 1944

Greek freighter ‘Ilissos’ attacked by an enemy submarine North-West of Beachport.  3 Ansons, 5 Beaufighters (2 from Laverton and 3 from Sale) arrived to carry out search.

21st December 1944

4 Beauforts arrived from Laverton to carry out a clearing search for a sea convoy proceeding to Melbourne.


5th January 1945

Course No 17 passed out. Of 40 starters, 23 successfully completed.

26th January 1945

Cpt Chow of the Chinese Air Force arrived at No 2 AOS for a training visit.

31st January 1945

No 2 AOS Avro Anson MG727 collided with telephone and telegraph lines near the township of Wail, Victoria.

14th March 1945

Avro Lancaster ‘G’ for George passed through on a tour of VIC, NSW and SA in support of a One Million Pound Victory Loan. People had a chance to fly in the famous bomber depending on the amount donated.

15th March 1945

WAAAF celebrates its fourth birthday.

9th May 1945

VE Day Station Stand Down was ordered.

15th august 1945

Surrender of Japanese forces in the Pacific.

27th August 1945

Beaufort A9-305 from Laverton crashed near Puralka VIC. Three air-crew killed instantly.


1st January 1946

No 2 AOS officially closed down after five years and three months.

RAAF base Mount Gambier became an Air Force Care and Maintenance unit.


13th January 1947

Commonwealth Disposals Commission Auction commenced at Mount Gambier Aerodrome to sell the RAAF property remaining from the war. The sale lasted 5 days.

29th May 1947

RAAF Care and Maintenance Unit disbanded.

July 1947

Mount Gambier Gliding Club established.


22nd October 1948

First flight for the Mount Gambier gliding club’s home-made glider.


26th February 1954

Queen Elizabeth steps onto South Australian soil for the first time at Mount Gambier. A plaque still remains in place for where this particular spot actually was.

20th November 1955

Mount Gambier Gliding and Soaring Club Air Pageant held at the airfield.

31st May 1957

Mount Gambier Aero Club formed.

19th November 1958

Mount Gambier Airport’s first helicopter flight arrives.


23rd August 1968

Ex No 12 ATC’s most outstanding former cadet Anthony Cassadio is killed in action when his Huey gunship helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade near Camp Blackhorse Base in Vung tau, Vietnam.

Sometime in 1969

A Link Trainer presented to the No 12 ATC in Mount Gambier.


26th June 1972

Cessna 150 of Roger Pitt crashed 200 metres from the Cape Banks lighthouse while conducting an aerial search for three fishermen who went missing earlier that day. Navigator and spotter J. von Stanke survived. Roger was a very experienced flying instructor and aviator who managed to fly using his artificial legs.

12th May 1974

Pilot Evelyn Koren disappears in her Cessna 172, off the coast of Port Macdonnell. The only evidence of her aircraft was a wheel chock with her initials on it. An extensive search was carried out but no wreckage or Evelyn was ever found. Later that year a front wheel and strut was washed ashore, completely shredded and encrusted in sea growth.


24th November 1981

Mount Gambier Airport hosts 210 aircraft, 800 pilots and aircrew for the Southern Cross Air rally. At the time the rally was said to be the longest aviation rally to be held in the Southern hemisphere.

Sometime in 1984

Mount Gambier’s No 12 Flight Air Training Corps becomes the first ATC unit in Australia to have a female Cadet Sergeant.

16th July 1989

Civil Aviation Authority officially presents the Licence to Operate an airport to Grant District Council Chairman Cr Rory McEwen. Ceremony attended by all district council members as well as reps from the Mount Gambier council and the Airline operators.


4th March 1990

2 AOS anniversary Air Show was run to coincide with the No 2 AOS’s 50th Anniversary. Watched by thousands of people, the air show saw the largest collection on RAAF and ex-RAAF aircraft since the second world war. The show was opened by former No 2 AOS WC A. McCormack.

31st October 1990

New Terminal building at the Mount Gambier Airport officially opened by Senator Bob Collins, then Minister for Shipping and Aviation support.

26th January 1991

Piper Saratoga crashes into pine trees just north of the Mount Gambier Airport. All three persons killed. They were Adelaide car dealer Les March, his wife Jean March and auto mechanic John Lewis. The family was heavily involved in the Speedway scene and had been in Mount Gambier for a race meeting.

1st March 1997

802 Air Tractor crashes with Pilot Peter Blackmore at an Air show conducted at Mount Gambier. Several thousand people witnessed the tragedy as the 802 hit the ground after dropping a load of water while simulating fire-bombing exercises.



28th June 2017

Socata Tobago TB-10 VH-YTM crashes 3 km south of the Mount Gambier Airport in foggy wet conditions, near the road junction of Walker and Sunnybrae Roads. 3 persons killed. Pilot Grant Gilbert 78 from Mount Barker, Tracey Redding 43 and Emily Redding 16 from Mount Gambier all killed instantly.