Every Member of the Australian Warbirds Association has an opportunity to contribute towards our nation’s growing warbird movement. The privileges we as owners, operators and enthusiasts enjoy today have been gained through the hard work and dedication of members dating back to the Association’s founding in 1989; in fact beyond that to the first visionaries who fought for the right to own and fly these great historic treasures.
The AWAL Honour Roll has been established to recognise those individuals who have in various ways made an outsized contribution towards Australia’s warbird movement and community. Some are still with us, while many are not. Regardless, their collective impact and legacy are felt every time one of our aircraft is wheeled out of its hangar into the sunshine. We as the current operators – custodians for future generations, really – of our nation’s warbirds must never forget that we take to the skies on lift generated by these great men and women. It is our privilege to follow in their footsteps and honour them.
Col Pay was born on 26th October 1932 and from an early age he developed an interest in flying and all things mechanical. He learned to fly at Narromine in western NSW using all he could afford from his wages to satisfy the passion that continued throughout his life.
Col’s passion for aviation led him into warbirds. In partnership he owned an Australian built Mustang that was kept at Narromine and later reluctantly sold to buy a washing machine. Today such a thought would not be contemplated, but in the 1950’s and 1960’s the warbird movement did not exist and few such aircraft were permitted to fly. Col again renewed his acquaintance with the Mustang when he purchased and restored VH-AUB at his Scone maintenance facility. With this aircraft repainted in its former RAAF markings Col became a regular performer at air shows throughout NSW.
Col expanded his interest in warbird aircraft with the purchase of a Spitfire Mk.VIII from the estate of the late Sid Marshall. This aircraft required a complete rebuild and many overseas commentators believed that the task could not be performed in this country. The aircraft’s first flight was the crowning achievement of the warbird movement in Australia up until that date, and its operation by Col between 1985 and 2000 brought this legend to thousands of enthusiasts and veterans alike. Col maintained his association with the Spitfire following its sale to the Temora Aviation Museum and flew it at Temora whenever the opportunity arose. Other wartime fighters and trainers became part of his collection including Australia’s first airworthy P-40 Kittyhawk which again emerged from his workshop as one of the best examples of its type anywhere in the world. At the time of the P-40’s first flight, Col’s collection boasted an example of each of the most significant fighter aircraft operated by the RAAF during the Second World War. Through Col’s efforts, Scone became a Mecca for aircraft enthusiasts and this was enhanced through the bi-annual “Warbirds over Scone” air shows that brought spectators from every state and overseas.
Col’s business expanded to include the acquisition and sale of a variety of ex-military aircraft. This greatly diversified the range of types flying in Australia and saved most from potential scrapping. With others he retrieved North American T-28’s from Laos, Cessna 0-1 Birddogs from Thailand and Vietnam and Cessna A 37 Dragonfly from Vietnam. Other types were also obtained from as far afield as Italy. It can truly be said that the nature and range of the Australian warbird movement as we see it today is due in no small part to the efforts of Col Pay.
Col was an astute businessman, hard bargainer and was both well-liked and respected throughout the Australian aviation industry. He was a highly skilled and experienced pilot in a wide variety of aircraft types from the Wright Flyer replica to jets. He was a regular performer at Temora’s flying weekends in his Mustang or P-40, thrilling the crowds with his professional displays.
Col is survived by his wife Dianne, son Ross and daughters Jillian and Helen.
He shall be greatly missed by everyone across the Australian aviation industry.
Ron Lee is a licensed aircraft engineer, Chief Engineer at Precision Aerospace at Wangaratta and chief engineer of the Malcolm Long Collection, restoring a number of aircraft. Over many years and especially during the 1960’s and ’70’s Ron Lee has worked tirelessly to save many of Australia’s historic Warbird aircraft.
Ron’s early efforts led to Australia’s first true civilian warbird, with a certificate of airworthiness issued to CA-16 Wirraway VH-BFF on 3 December 1976. This aircraft is now part of the Temora Aviation Museum collection.
Over the years Ron has remained affiliated with Warbirds in one way or another and is to this day involved in a number of ongoing Warbird restoration projects!
Ron has honorary life membership in AWAL.
David Lowy is the President and Founder of Temora Aviation Museum. In 2003, he was named a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to aviation, particularly the preservation and promotion of Australia’s aviation history through the establishment of the Temora Aviation Museum. In 2006 he received the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators’ Australian Bicentennial Award, which recognises outstanding individuation contribution to Australian aviation.
David Lowy is a former Australian Aerobatic Champion (Unlimited Division, 1998) and was selected to represent Australia at the World Aerobatic Championships in Trencin, Slovakia in 1998; however he was unable to attend due to business commitments. David regularly performs at airshows flying a WWII Spitfire as well as Vietnam War-era A37B Dragonfly ground attack jet. He also holds an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATP) and pilots a Gulfstream 550 business jet.
David Lowy is Chief Executive of LFG, the Family Office and private investment group of the Lowy family. Prior to founding LFG, he was Managing Director of the Westfield Group (1987 – 2000) and non- executive Deputy Chairman until his retirement from the Westfield Board in 2011.
Acknowledged throughout the world as one of the founders of the Classic and Warbird movement in Australia, Guido Zuccoli was a man of few words who let his actions speak volumes for the inspiration and support he gave many. Even now, many years after his tragic passing, he is still inspiring and impressing many both in Aviation and Engineering circles.
Guido was born in the Valtellina area of Northern Italy and upon graduating as a Civil Engineer, at the young age of 20, he applied for emigration to Australia and a job with Transfield in Cairns. In 1964 his job led him to the Darling Downs region of Queensland and he met his future wife whilst overseeing the construction of silos in Chinchilla. Guido and Lynette were married the following year and, after a few years, formed their own company – Steelcon Constructions Pty Ltd – which was located in Darwin. The work carried out by Steelcon ranged from building concrete bridges to Arrester Systems for the Air Force in Tindal. Guido was very proud that the company had won two major Australian Engineering Awards, for the Palmerston Water Tank and the Darwin Flyover, which the Northern Territory has since renamed in his honour (In 2010, the NT Government named a new suburb in Palmerston, “Zuccoli” in honour of Guido).
In 1970, because of the vast distances involved in his work, Guido decided to obtain his Pilot’s Licence. The first aircraft he owned was a DeHavilland Chipmunk. At about the same time he became interested in Sport Aerobatics, building the very first S2S Pitts Special in Australia. Guido was a driving force in the establishment of the NT Aerobatic Club. He competed in Australian competitions and on three occasions represented Australia at International Aerobatic Competitions. Guido won many awards for flying and represented the NT in the Australian Sportsman of the Year Awards (he lost out to his cricket hero, Dennis Lillee). In 1980 his interests moved toward Warbirds and during a trip to the USA, he purchased four Hawker Sea Furies. Restorations began in Darwin on “308” VH-HFG (Hawker Fury Guido) and subsequently on two others for clients. In 1987 Aerotec Pty Ltd was formed specifically to restore aeroplanes and in the years following, up until 1997, a small team restored T-28 Trojans, T-6 Harvards, and rebuilt several Pitt Specials and Lazer Aircraft. In 1987 Guido was the first (and to this day remains the only) Australian to fly in the Unlimited Races at Reno, USA in his Fiat G-59. In 1988 the Fiat was awarded the Lindbergh Award for Judges Choice at Oshkosh. Guido also raced in the Tasmanian Air Races, winning the Unlimited Race in 1995 in the Sea Fury. In addition, he set a short course record at Skyrace in Tasmania. Guido had many gifts, among them a mathematical skill which was legendary amongst those who knew him. He was a great cook and loved experimenting with exotic dishes, preserves and making genuine Italian salamis. He had a love of Opera, but above everything a love of life itself. Guido’s full and exhilarating life was tragically cut short at Tindal Air Base, NT, on March 6th 1997 in a newly restored T-6 which suffered a catastrophic engine failure caused by a faulty bearing. Guido Zuccoli was a warm-hearted man of renowned generosity and integrity. He touched many people’s lives and left an unyielding legacy of inspiration. In 1998, Lynette formed Aerotec Queensland Pty Ltd and is still heading the company as Managing Director. In 2004 this company was expanded to include a Flying School “Aerotec Flight Training” that is operated by her son-in-law, Matt. Lynette is an accomplished artist and continues to paint and draw. She uses her artistic skills to paint the nose-art on her aircraft and several others as well. Lynette prides herself on running Aerotec’s “Baghdad Café” and is always extremely welcoming of all visitors to her hangar in Toowoomba.
Judy Pay began flying in 1980, having grown up a couple of miles from the little airport at Tyabb in Victoria.
After overcoming initial bouts of airsickness, she learned to fly in a Cessna 150, becoming completely engrossed in aviation. She went on to complete her night rating and command instrument rating the next year.
A friend who had a Tiger Moth piqued Judy’s interest in vintage aeroplanes. She bought a share in that aircraft and now owns it outright.
After learning to fly a Harvard, Judy bought a T-28 in the USA and had it shipped to Australia. There was only one engineer who had any experience on this type, but he was thinking of closing down, so she bought into the business just to keep it going. When the engineer eventually did retire, Judy ended up with The Old Aeroplane Company, which has now grown to be one of the premier warbird restoration and maintenance organisations in Australia.
Aircraft in Judy’s fleet include the Mustang, the Kittyhawk, the T-28 Trojan, 2 Harvards, a Vampire jet, and of course, the Tiger Moth. All are lovingly cared-for and flown regularly.
Judy is currently involved in restoration of both the last CAC Boomerang built and a rare German FI-156 Fiesler Storch.
To-date, Judy has flown over 50 aircraft types, including both fixed-wing and helicopters.