Wings of passion


Wings of passion

words todd kuchel
PHOTOGRAPHY pete thornton
>> Lincoln Nitschke

Lincoln Nitschke’s interest in airplanes began when he was a young lad.

“I used to fly with a control line model aircraft,” Lincoln shares, “and also had a great interest in building plastic scale kit models.”

Lincoln’s first model came as a gift from his mother, who had bought it from Nuriootpa for two and sixpence.

Lincoln’s collection of models later developed into full-size airplanes, amongst other pieces of aviation history, and 35 years ago, his collection was put on display and became the Greenock Aviation Museum.

When he was 16, Lincoln began gliding at the Waikerie Gliding Club.

“I soloed and got my C-certificate, and then obtained my private pilot’s license when I was 18 at Parafield,” Lincoln shares.

“I first started collecting aircraft about 45 years ago, with the Canberra bomber, DH Vampire and the DH Devon.”

- Lincoln Nitschke

At 21, he began work in New Guinea. A smile reveals the pride he holds for the brave moment he purchased a Cessna 172 in Sydney and flew the plane back to New Guinea.

Upon leaving the company, Lincoln purchased three trade stores in the mountain area of New Guinea, which had airstrips but could not be reached by road.

“I flew goods in for the New Guineans and bought coffee from them for the Lae Coffee Mills,” Lincoln explains.

Eight years later, Lincoln returned to Australia and began working for a crop spraying firm, later becoming the manager.

“The aircraft we operated were the DH (De Havilland) Beavers,” Lincoln says. “They were the first aircraft to be used for firebombing in the Adelaide Hills.”

After gaining his commercial license, Lincoln did some freelance charter out of Parafield and Adelaide airport, until the end of his flying days.

Although he was no longer in the air, Lincoln’s passion for aviation remained as strong as ever and he began collecting full-size aircraft.

“I first started collecting aircraft about 45 years ago, with the Canberra bomber, DH Vampire and the DH Devon,” Lincoln explains.

Inspired to continue his search for remaining World War II aircraft, Lincoln uncovered remains wherever they could be found.

“Tocumwal, NSW was a big wrecking yard after World War II,” Lincoln explains. “They melted down all (the) aluminium from the Wirraway and Boomerang aircraft and left the fuselage frames, which were constructed of steel tubing and canopies. These were thrown into a large dam.”

Lincoln collected 16 frames and 86 canopies and windscreens and trailered many loads of Mosquito parts back from Narromine, NSW.

The Mosquito remains Lincoln’s favourite airplane, no doubt due to his involvement with a number of restoration projects around the world.

“I got a call from Vancouver, Canada late one night,” Lincoln shares.

A gentleman had been searching the world for Mosquito components with the intention of getting one back into the air.

“Nothing had been flying around the world for about 25 years, since the last one crashed in England,” Lincoln shares.

This particular query was for undercarriage legs, so Lincoln sent him over six sets, along with a lot of internal parts for the back of the fuselage.

“I watched on the internet, six months later, that plane take its first flight, which was quite satisfying,” Lincoln shared, smiling.

Lincoln also sent a 20ft container to New Zealand to assist with another program dedicated to building Mosquito airplanes.

“I went over to Auckland to watch the first flight,” Lincoln explains. “I got there early and about 20,000 people turned up. The plane flew all day.”

It was 35 years ago that squadron leader and CEO of Edinburgh airbase opened The Greenock Aviation Museum. The day was also attended by two busloads of air cadets along with 50 locals and a barbecue lunch.

“It all went down quite well,” Lincoln said. “I can’t believe so many years have passed by.”

Lincoln continues to be amazed by the number of people interested in aviation, as he receives many visitors from all over the world.

The Greenock Aviation Museum is open to the public from 10:00am to 4:00pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

In addition to the models and aircraft, you’ll find many other pieces of aviation history in the museum, such as Rolls-Royce Merlins, which powered the Spitfire, Mustang, Lancaster and Mosquito, Rolls-Royce Jet engines and many other inline and radial engines, large radio control aircraft, and cabinets full of aircraft memorabilia.

It’s a collection well worth a visit.

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