• Deborah Lawrie is to be inducted into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame. (still from TigerAir operations video)
    Deborah Lawrie is to be inducted into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame. (still from TigerAir operations video)

The Australian Aviation Hall of Fame (AAHOF) announced on Friday that it would induct three aviators into the hall of fame this year and also honour aviators that battled the bushfires that devasted Australia last summer.

The three members to be inducted later this year are:

  • Captain Deborah Jane Lawrie AM
  • Basil South Brown
  • John Weymouth

In addition, the Southern Cross Award will be awarded to both the Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) and the Aerial Application Association of Australia (AAAA), which made significant and fundamental contributions to the firefighting effort.

"This year has had its special challenges for the aviation industry and has highlighted the quality of the very special inductees and organisations that have been in the forefront of the fight against the fires that decimated parts of Australia during the 2019-20 Australian bushfire season," said AAHOF Chairman Steve Padgett OAM.

"The part that women have played in the history of aviation in Australia is also something we should all be proud of, and it is recognised in this year's awards."

Captain Deborah Jane Lawrie AM
Deborah Lawrie has been involved in aviation for over 50 years. As Debbie Wardley, she became Australia's first female airline pilot when she took Ansett to court over their refusal to hire her because she was female. Her determination broke down all barriers for women and paved the way for many to achieve their dreams of flying for the airlines.

Basil South Brown
Basil Brown was a co-founder of East-West Airlines and was the inaugural president of the AAAA in 1958. He established Airfarm Associates in NSW in 1953 and was in the forefront of the Australian agricultural aviation industry for many decades afterward.

John Weymouth
John Weymouth is considered a national pioneer in the helicopter industry, particularly in the commercial and emergency services operations. Firefighting, SAR, mustering, training and infrastructure inspection all owe something to Weymouth's ongoing efforts. He is credited as one of the main reasons that Australia now has the world's second-largest fleet of civil helicopters.

Southern Cross Award: AHIA and the AAAA
Without these two organisations, firefighting efforts in Australia would be done with the professionalism that they are today. The brunt of suppression operations are born by members of both these organisations flying helicopters and single-engine aerial tankers (SEAT) dropping water and retardant with precision. The support both associations provide makes it possible to leverage the assets to maximum effect.

AAHOF currently plans to make the formal inductions at a dinner at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) hangar at Shellharbour Airport (Albion Park) on 14 November this year.

More information is on the AAHOF website.

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