Des Porter and his beautifully restored de Havilland DH-84 Dragon, callsign VH-UXG, were inseparable. As a magnificent example of an impeccably rebuilt aircraft from the romantic days of old, Riama, with Des at the controls, has been a favourite at airshows around the country over the past decade.
The appearance over the horizon of that instantly recognisable red fuselage prompted the unanimous vote by those attending that all was now in place and let the show begin.
With a wicked sense of humour and the most amiable of personalities, Des had a huge range of friends, a vast majority from within the aviation community where his heart was truly entrenched.
In 1954, Des, at the age of 11, survived a fatal crash in his father’s DH-84 Dragon, which took the lives of his father and brother. It is often said to be beyond belief that Des could choose, years later, to pour his life and his dollars into the purchase and maintenance of the very same model of aircraft.
Des’ Dragon, Riama, was reconstructed by northern NSW vintage aviation specialists, Greg and Nick Challinor and was one of only two such aircraft in Australia and four in the world. Now there are three. The vintage biplane crashed in dense bushland in the hinterland of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast on October 1, killing all six on board.
The Creed family from The Old Station at Raglan had known Des for many years. The annual Old Station Fly-In has been a stalwart on the aviation calendar since 1989. Says Leonie Creed: “Des attended nearly every event that we held here at The Old Station, and he was always such a gentleman.
"He was always the first one to put up his hand to help our fund raising cause, the Capricorn Helicopter Rescue service, and the sight of his beautiful Dragon brought such pleasure to all our visitors.”
Together with countless others across Australia, Des’ close mates at Caboolture aerodrome will also feel the loss of this popular and active club member and his wife Kath, deeply.
With the death of Des Porter, the Australian aviation community has lost a skilled and passionate aviator and an incredible ambassador for the love of flying.