1960’s - In the 1960s and ’70’s the Snowy Mountains Authority used the land of the Aerodrome as an airstrip for the construction of the Snowy Scheme. We understand that the land was then intended to be returned to the community in return for the Old Jindabyne Town Common Land which had now been flooded by the new lake.
1974 - The land title was transferred to the care of the Lands Department on behalf of the Jindabyne community.
1978 - Barry Wrenford was granted a Permissive Occupancy of the land enabling access to the aerodrome for his exclusive use. He established an aviation business known as Alpine Soaring in the following years. However, access for local pilots was restricted and general use of the field remained outside the scope of local flying operations. This turn of events did not sit well with the Jindabyne Community and local pilots who felt the land belonged to the townspeople of Jindabyne. The operator had apparently been given the sole right operate the aerodrome in his own interests and those interests, rightly or wrongly, did not mesh with those of the wider community.
1980’ - The founding club members, a group of like minded local pilots informally started meeting, from time to time to discuss various aviation issues. The main subject of discussion centring around access to the Jindabyne Aerodrome for the operation of their aircraft and for visiting pilots. Eventually it was decided to form themselves into a registered club with the object of the club to “to encourage and foster flying generally, and in particular active participation in flying light aircraft at Jindabyne” and “Maintain at Jindabyne club premises suitable for members of the club”.
1985 - On the 2nd of Oct 1985 the Jindabyne Aero Club had its first official meeting where it was resolved to formally create the Club and the first executive committee was elected. Pres - Chris Randall, Vice Pres - Ron McDonald, Sec - Sandy Callum, Treas Ron Clarke. Other official business was conducted including attending to the registering of the name, the aims of the club, which included establishing a permanent airstrip for the use of the club and the public.
1985 -88 Jindabyne Aero Club had many meetings with Snowy River Shire Council, then together approached the Lands Department to discuss the matter of the Jindabyne Aerodrome licence arrangements and the possibilities of improving the strip for General Aviation activities. According to Chris Randalls notes, 12 different submissions where prepared, 8 meetings where held with the Minister for Lands, Lands Department Officers, CAA Officers, Gliding Federation officers. Many more meetings where held with Shire virtually on a weekly basis.
Having gained “In Principal” approval from the Authorities the club commissioned a Land Survey of proposed runway improvements, aircraft movements area, ascertained standards required for classes of aircraft that could possibly use the aircraft under the Air Laws relating at the time.
1989 - An meeting was arranged with the then Minister of Lands Ian Causley, attended by a deputation of the Clubs executive, MP Russell Smith, the Mayor and other Shire officials. Happily the Minister conceded to the weight of numbers and advised the deputation of his decision to hand back the land to the Shire and the Club.
1990 - The club was advised by the new Minister for Lands, Russel Smith, that the Club would be accommodated in a new Lease of the Aerodrome Land to the Shire. This was met with some scepticism by the club, as members where aware that the land was regarded as Town Common Land by the community, and the question was asked, “why should our community need to rent back our Common Land from the state government?” The proposed new lease to the Shire was resisted by the club for some time, but in the end was accepted as the path forward of least resistance.
1991-1992 - The Members of the Club and the general community in a huge effort spearheaded by Chris Randall, went to work on rebuilding the Jindabyne Aerodrome to a standard suitable for use by light single and twin engine aircraft. The job was not small and the scope hard to imagine when viewing the Aerodrome as it stands today. Literally small mountains where moved in scenes reminiscent of the Snowy Scheme.
The volume of work was staggering, and the dollar value of which can never really be properly calculated as it was mostly volunteered and donated. I have been led to believe that surveying fees alone, kindly donated by Link and Link Surveyors would have been in the order of $250,000 alone.
$50,000 worth of diesel fuel was donated by members of the club to keep many large earth moving machines working. Those machines time and drivers had mostly been donated by local businesses. Those businesses included Mike Litherland Earthmoving, the Golby Bros. and many, many others. So many people donated time, expertise and materials that it seemed that the whole town was involved. However, noted by their absence, where a small number of large local corporations and government bodies that helped little more than standing on the side lines cheering while the rest of the community did the Lions share of the work. Those same organisations are now the biggest beneficiaries of our work. They feel free to come and go from the Aerodrome paying nothing and having done very little contribute to this great asset!
The project was completed on time on no budget! Had there been a budget it would have run to well over $1millon and probably twice that in today’ money
1993 - The Grand Opening of the Jindabyne Community Aerodrome was held with a never to be repeated air show of exuberant proportions! There where vintage aircraft flying, helicopters, aerobatics, skydivers, a huge bon fire, a country and western band and all the fun of the fair. Dick Smith flew in to cut the ribbon and speak to the crowd of proud locals, and in his speech described the Aerodrome as the prettiest little Aerodrome in the country! We wonder if he realised the magnitude of the intense effort required by the club and the community to make it happen.
An integral part of the opening ceremony was the handing of a cheque in the sum of $1500 to the Snowy River Aged Hostel, as a small return contribution from the Jindabyne Aero Club to the community in gratitude for the work done on the Aerodrome by the community.
1993 -2000 Consolidation of the Club. Ongoing negotiations with the Shire to finalise the License conditions. More work done on fencing repairs and runway maintenance.
1997 - Thredbo Landslide –The airfield is heavily utilised by the Air Ambulance, Media Aircraft, Police, Emergency Services and others. Club members become involved ferrying Emergency Services crews to and from regional centres.
1998 - Snowy River Shire builds a bush fire fighting shed for aviation operations on the Aerodrome.
2000 - A proposal to run an RPT float plane service to Jindabyne distracts the club, with resulting submissions to the proposal and many meetings etc. The service never started.
2001 -The Deed of License to occupy the club area at the Aerodrome is finally signed off after a protracted negotiation period. Negotiations where conducted with good grace by all parties while the interests of all the parties concerned where accommodated. Many “robust” discussions where held!
2002 - Development and Building Approvals were issued for the first permanent hangar buildings. The first double hangar was completed late 2004. A further five hangar bays in three buildings were erected in the following years. There are still approximately eight hangar sites available for future development.
2003 - Catastrophic bush fires resulted in the Aerodrome being requisitioned by the RFS for intensive fire fighting operations. Up to 30 helicopters where based on the aerodrome along with many fixed wing aircraft. Unfortunately, the fragile grass surface could not withstand the heavy traffic and was badly damaged. Luckily the RFS agreed to make good the damage and provided sufficient funds to repair the main runway. The first repair, which involved top dressing the runway and reseeding in an attempt to restore the grass surface failed dismally due to the protracted drought, another major fire event and constant traffic. Luckily sufficient funds remained to strip the surface and replace the grass with a smooth gravel surface, which has been a great success.
Over the next few years during the prolonged draught the Aerodrome is repeatedly utilised by fire crews and others to respond fires and other emergency events.
2005 - Over a period of time the Shire had been running down their maintenance obligations at the Aerodrome, with infrequent mowing, weed control, wind sock maintenance etc. So the club picked some of the slack by investing in a tractor and slasher to take over the mowing, and its members have invested much of their own time attending to the other issues including weed spraying, runway maintenance, wind sock repairs, vermin & pest control, fence repairs, pilot liaison, etc. We estimate that the savings to the Shire to about $20,000 per annum.
2009 - Planning underway for a new club house. The Mens Shed advises that they wish to investigate the possibilities of co-locating with the Club at the Aerodrome. A proposed site near our club house has been pegged.
Negotiations continue with the Shire to extend the License or make more permanent the tenure arrangements of the Club at the Aerodrome.
The Jindabyne Aero Club, in pursuit of its aim of fostering aviation in the mountains, hands over a cheque for $1000 to the Snowy Mountains Grammar School Aviation Training program. Jindabyne Aero Club continues to support aviation education and training by fostering young pilots at every opportunity.
2010 - An official name for the aerodrome is adopted; “Jindabyne Randal Community Aerodrome” in memory of founding member Chris Randall who died in a tragic gyrocopter accident at the field on 24/1/2010
2011 - Another tragedy strikes the club and family of Richard Holgate on 24/6/2011 when Richard is lost in a seaplane accident on Lake Jindabyne.
2011 - The Men’ Shed is established and construction commences at the Eastern side of the Main Entrance. This is separate arrangement with SRSC and does not affect the Club in any substantial way.
2011 - Snowy River Shire Council commences a process of Compulsory Acquisition of the land of the Jindabyne Randall Community Aerodrome from the land Department.
2012 - February the biggest event since the opening of the Jindabyne Randall Community Aerodrome is held, the first ever Reach for the Stars Ball raises nearly $8000 towards a new club house.
17/02/2012 - The Club receives a notice from Snowy River Shire Council cancelling the Deed of Licence that enables the club to utilise the Aerodrome. A new license will be drawn up by the Shire on successful completion of the Compulsory Acquisition process.
01/03/2012 - The club request by email a meeting to discuss the proposed arrangements for the new tenure agreement.
04/04/2012 - NSW Legislative Council Minutes P894 mentions Jindabyne Aero Club operating successfully from the Jindabyne Aerodrome for the past 35 years making many improvements, devoting many thousands of dollars and much time and effort into improving the airfield. Continued usage of the airfield by the Jindabyne Aero Club represents a win for all in improving and providing this vital piece of infrastructure.
12/04/2012 - Meeting held with Councils Lyn Bottrill to discuss arrangements. Matters such as the term, the type of agreement - either licence or lease, enable sub leases or licences, cost sharing of legal fees, enable business activity with DA approval etc were discussed.
27/04/2012 - The club receives a Draft Lease from SRSC offering a term of 25 years on a non exclusive basis. Various conditions are discussed and various minor suggested amendments are submitted to council in writing by email.
21/05/2012 - The club receives by email a Final Licence from Council, offering a non-exclusive tenure for 12 months.
22/05/2012 - The club receives by email the associated map outlining the land to be covered by the licence. An exchange of emails takes place between the executive and an Exec meeting is called for the 26/5
26/05/2012 - Executive meeting at the club house decides that there is insufficient time to call a General Meeting of the Club to discuss the proposed licence and gain authority from the club to sign off on the licence document. The new document is significantly different from that first proposed and given that significant documentation has been omitted the club would potentially be signing without being fully aware of the requirements of the new document. However, as the Executive believes that an agreement can and will be quickly reached with Council a decision is made to pay the rent requested and alter our insurance arrangements to comply with the proposed license. A General Meeting of the club is scheduled for the 1/7/12 with the licence issue on the agenda.
28/05/2012 - The club requests by email associated documentation not included in the license.
01/06/2012 - The club receives by email a letter from Council advising that it is no longer authorised to use the Aerodrome and that if an alternative 60 day interim agreement based on our old Sub licence is not accepted by 4pm 04/06/2012 the club will be locked out of the Aerodrome.
04/06/2012 - The club replies by email that it will accept the 60 day interim arrangement. The club requests a meeting with the General Manager and also to address the open forum of the Council on the 19th June 2012 to discuss the issues.
19/06/2012 - Bob Young (Pres.)and Michael Fischer(Sec.), along with nine other club members, addressed an open meeting of the Snowy River Shire Council. Topics covered included the history of the club and airfield, future plans and the main point of the address being the need for the club to achieve secure tenure. Councillors thanked the Club for the presentation but did not ask any questions or offer any comment as the plans of Council for future arrangements for the the club or the airfield.
21/06/2012 - Emails between Council & JAC indicate that there will be a delay in the finalisation of the tenure arrangements for the club until after the Compulsory Acquisition process has been completed. However, there is no indication of what those arrangements might be. In the interim the conditions of our old Licence effective until 2016 remain in place.
14/08/2012 - JAC makes submission to the ADRGS for substantial funding to seal and extend the main runway.
16/8/2012 - JAC Exec (RY, PD & MF) meet with Council Lyn Bottrill (Joe Vescio did not show) at Berridale. New Licence document for tenure of 8 months again rejected at the meeting due to insufficient term and unacceptable general conditions. Council requests letter of requirements from JAC. Due to Council elections no new action expected until the new Council is bedded in.
29/8/2012 - Presentation at Memorial Hall to introduce the proposed runway improvements to the Emergency Services Board Meeting with the aim of gaining support for the project.
12/10/2012 - Requested information from Joe Vescio regarding Council Meeting on the 9th that included a Agendered Item regarding the Aerodrome. Joe replied that the meeting was in confidence, and could he could only say that the business included Councils financial process of funding the purchase of the Aerodrome land. The Clubs lease was not mentioned.
11/11/2012 - JAC receives written notification from SRSC to quit illegal usage of the emergency airstrip on vacant land between Leesville and Barry Way. Corrective letter sent
12/11/12 –the emergency strip has not been used by aircraft for over 40 years. Permission was granted to certain pilots by SRSC to use that land as an air strip in the 1970’. Such permission was not rescinded as far as the pilots are aware. Over the years the land had been mowed annually by people not under the auspices or direction of JAC, for various purposes including as an emergency runway. Other people, not members of the JAC have used and continue to use the land for model aircraft flying, horse racing, picnics, motorcycling and off road push bikes. JAC has directed its members not to utilise or maintain the land in any way.
05/12/2012 - JAC receives notification from The Hon Michael Gallachar MLC Minister for Police and Emergency Services that the clubs application for funding under the Auxilary Disaster Resilience Scheme has been refused. Snowy River Shire eventually receives a total of $6000 to fund printed map books for local Emergency Services.
15/01/2013 - Jindabyne Randall Community Aerodrome (JRCA) is requisitioned for fighting at the large Numeralla fire. Numerous aircraft movements take place with many fixed wing aircraft and helicopters making heavy use of the Aerodrome. Some blast damage to the runway surface is noted on the runway thresh holds. The JRCA is used in preference to Cooma Airfields due to Jindabyne's favourable runway orientation in relation to the strong North Westerly winds prevailing at the time.
11/02/2013 - JRCA is again requisitioned for fixed and rotary wing aircraft for the Toolong fires near Mount Jagungal. Again numerous fire fighting aircraft movements over two or three days take place further eroding the runway surface. Further damage to runways noted. Accounts issued to both RFS and KNP claiming aprox $6500 from each party for damages. Claims refused. Liability denied and other factors blamed. JAC left responsible to repair damaged runway.
Aero Model application for permission to operate repeatedly - no response from SRSC
27/03/2013 - Application for consideration of funding for safety equipment ie runway gable markers, funding refused by SRSC. SRSC staff erroneously assume that JAC is obligated to replace Council equipment when no such obligation exists under the licence agreement.
20/07/2013 - Application submitted for funding runway sealing under NSW State Gov. "Community Building Partnerships Program". Application refused in preference to facilities for Berridale Gun Club?
10/11/2013 - Scholarships Proposed -Jindabyne Aero Club sponsors two aviation studies students at a Jindabyne School to the value of $750 for flight training. The applicant to be chosen on the basis of aptitude, application, need & participation in JAC activities. JAC Committee to choose an applicant from 3 recommended by the Schools.
12/12/2013 - Another proposed license document received from SRSC. Key points - rent increased to $12,000pa plus half share of hangar rents, plus JAC now formally responsible for all maintenance, estimated at $21,000pa, plus insurance etc. Total costs to Jindabyne Aero Club for running the aerodrome on behalf of the community now in excess of $40,000pa!
20/12/2013 - A meeting with KNP Ian Dicker and RFS Jim Darrant regarding damaged runways. Both parties agree that the Jindabyne Randall Community Aerodrome is a vital emergency services asset and that RFS and KNP should be making a contribution to the running costs of the airfield. However, KNP's position is that they will pay SRSC the gazetted landing fee, IE $15 per landing on invoice. Jim Darrant suggested that he would lobby the RFS to make a contribution. Neither would commit to reparation of the runway damaged during the fire fighting operations.
04/01/2014 - Meeting with SRSC staff to discuss proposed license arrangement. Key points being that the rent is unaffordable and the valuation base of the land is too high. A letter outlining key points is sent to Council and Councillors following the meeting to reiterate the points made.
04/02/2014 - Late January 2014 the airfield is again commandeered by NPWS and RFS for fighting operations by fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Unfortunately the fixed wing fire bombing aircraft have done so much damage to the main runway that it is deemed prudent by the club to close the runway until repairs can be made. The fire fighting aircraft have blasted away so much of the fine material of the runway that only gravel and small to large rocks remain. This leaves the runway surface in an unacceptably dangerous condition that could result in serious aircraft damage.
05/02/2014 - Main runway graded and rolled and subsequently reopened to aircraft and fire fighting operations on the 06/02/2014. RFS agree to submit the costs of the repair under the section 44 claim enabled by the fire event. SRSC donates use of water tanker for the task but then later sends an $812 account in arrears for the use of the water tanker!
11/03/2014 –Executive meeting SRSC DOC committee to discuss terms of proposed new license. Council refuses to give any ground on the terms of the new licence, and the club is placed in the position of either signing the onerous new agreement or vacating the airfield.
14/03/2014 –JAC signs new license under duress. Fixed term of two years with a right of first refusal to buy the runway and hangar land only at the end of that term at a rate equal to that of the Councils acquisition.
26/04/2014 –Jindabyne Randall Community Aerodrome celebrates 21 years since the opening of the field to the public. A huge weekend is planned and executed, however the weather does not co-operate resulting in reduced attendance. Full report in the events section of the club web site.