45th Anniversary Celebrations (1979)

In a remarkable feat of airmanship, local pilot John Love landed his aeroplane on the Albury racecourse in between vintage cars, as a re-enactment of the Uiver landing. This was a spectacular feature of the Albury race meeting on 24th October 1979 (the exact Uiver 45th anniversary).

John Love’s Lockheed 12A Electra Junior plane (VH-ABH, named ‘Silver City’) was used as it was a local aircraft that had some similarities to a DC-2, and there were no airworthy DC-2s in Australia. The ‘Silver City’ was a small eight-seat twin-engine all-metal plane developed in the late 1930s (the same era as the Uiver).

‘Silver City’ was a very high-performance plane for its day, and the racecourse fairly short for a landing field. For more information about the Lockheed ‘Silver City’ click here.

John Love's Lockheed Electra Junior

In a major coincidence, there had been a lot of rain in Albury in the lead-up to the 45th Uiver anniversary, and so, just like the real Uiver landing the race-course was quite damp. On clearing the fence and touching down, the soft ground helped slow the Lockheed down. The Lockheed pulled up just in front of the grandstand. John stopped the engines and jumped out, and people streamed onto the field to examine his plane. Uniforms were borrowed from the KLM airline for the occasion

The Lockheed had stopped with its left wheel in a rut in the mud. At the time, John joked, “It’s gotten bogged in the same place as the Uiver!” Late in the afternoon a group of volunteers pulled the Lockheed free of the mud so it could take off.

The ‘Silver City’ Lockheed 12A is the only aircraft to have landed at the Albury racecourse since the Uiver in 1934, and it’s likely to be the last.

John Love's Lockheed Electra Junior

John Love’s Lockheed 12A at Albury Racecourse in 1979.

John Love's Lockheed Electra Junior

Also in 1979, the Rotary Club of West Albury purchased and refurbished a Douglas DC-2, to represent the Uiver. This ‘Uiver memorial’ DC-2 was mounted on poles at Albury airport as a reminder of the dramatic Uiver rescue. A more detailed description of the Uiver memorial plane is here.

The following year (1980), Albury’s Uiver memorial DC-2 was officially dedicated in a ceremony by the then Governor General of Australia, Sir Zelman Cowan and the then Albury Mayor, Cr John Roach.

Coincidentally, our co-patron, Richard de Crespigny, became Aide-de-Camp to Sir Zelman Cowan only three years later in 1983. Richard’s website quotes from Sir Cowan’s speech,

Sir Zelman Cowan and Mayor John Roach

“I am glad that Rotary, in this, its seventy-fifth year, has cooperated with the Albury City Council in planning and establishing this memorial in this distinctive and highly appropriate form.

When people see it, I hope that they will ask why, and I hope that they will be told. Those who conceived this idea have captured a good moment in our history, and there are many, certainly in my generation, who will be grateful to them.”

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