Farewell to pioneer who helped Fraser Coast soar
HE CAME from a long line of cane farmers, but that wasn't to be his destiny.
Don Adams, Hervey Bay's beloved aviation guru, died on November 16 aged 93.
Born in Childers, from the age of about 10 he started building model aeroplanes and it soon became a passion.
As a child, his parents would bring him to Pialba every year for Easter.
He remembered his father taking him to Fraser Island in 1935 to see the huge ship, the Maheno, that had washed up on the beach just a few days before.
"Apart from this gigantic ship my other memory of this incident is the Japanese crew's sandshoes which had a separate pocket for the big toe," he said.
Mr Adams founded Seabird Aviation in 1983 and had been involved ever since in the design, certification and production of the Seabird Seeker, a multi-role aircraft that provides a cost-effective alternative for low-level observation tasks.
Seabird Seekers are now operating across the globe.
Mr Adams served in the RAAF in 1944 and 1945 and received his pilot's licence through the Bundaberg Aero Club.
From 1957 to 1965 he was involved in the aerial grass-seeding of the Brigalow scrub areas and in 1969 was involved in the construction of an airstrip and accommodation on Lady Elliot Island.
From 1963 to 1970 he commenced a daily aerial paper run and delivery of urgently required goods to eight hinterland locations in the Wide Bay region.
In 1969, he and fellow pilot Bill English constructed the first air strip on Fraser Island, and it was clear that an airstrip at Hervey Bay would be an advantage.
A suitable area for an airstrip was found in the bush at Urangan and the first discussions and inspections were carried out with the Burrum Shire Council regarding the proposed airstrip, with Mr Adams assisting with the positioning and construction of the site.
The work was carried out by members of the army construction unit who happened to be in the area at the time, using the heavy equipment.
A marathon working bee was staged by about 100 children from the Hervey Bay primary and secondary schools, members of the Hervey Bay Rotary Club and employees of the Burrum Shire Council in clearing debris which could puncture a tyre from the strip.
He married the love of his life, Moya, and they had four children together, three daughters, Janet, Robyn and Kym, and a son, Peter.
Peter was close with his father, who he remembers as being incredibly encouraging of his children's dreams when they were growing up.
"He was always supportive of what we did," he said.
Peter said his dad never searched for recognition - it was the last thing on his mind when it came to his endeavours.
Given his aviation achievements, it's little wonder the road leading to Hervey Bay Airport is named for him.
In 2011, Mr Adams received the Medal of the Order of Australia.
"It's a great honour to receive this award," he said at the time.
"But I have accomplished what I have with the help of other people."
A funeral service for Mr Adams will be held on November 25 at 1pm at the Orana Chapel at J Kirk & Sons' Hervey Bay Crematorium.