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Always Looking Up Hastings District Flying Club celebrates 60 years of aviation

The Hastings District Flying Club (HDFC) is celebrating its 60th anniversary with the theme “Always Looking Up” as pilots always do when a plane flies by. It also means that the club is forward looking.

HDFC has been making flying dreams come true since 1958. It operates a flying club and Recreational Aviation flying school out of Port Macquarie with a hangar and club house at the airport.

On 8 September 1958, Hastings District Flying Club was born. By 1960, Chief Flying Instructor Barrie Abbott had been eagerly promoting the club and the beautiful district of Port Macquarie through many exciting social events including air pageants. The club had been encouraging older people to learn to fly. They were particularly keen to encourage younger people to progress to commercial aviation. This fervent desire to stoke the interest of youths in flying continues today with students ranging from as young as 14 to an impressive (and humbling) 94 years of age!

There is an obvious air of camaraderie at HDFC. Club President Rod Davison has a vast vision and grand plans for the Hastings District Flying Club. The vision is to have exciting programs to entice pilots, their families, social members and the general public and ignite a shared passion for flying. Plans include effective social communications through HDFC Propwash newsletters, fly-in and fly-away activities, Fly and Spy competitions and most recently fly-away coffee sessions and visits to the airshow at Oshkosh USA.

HDFC continues the proud tradition began by Barrie Abbott in turning out highly skilled and professional pilots. The Flying School is now led by Chief Flying Instructor, Steve Smith with Ray Lind as Club Captain and Mentor. There are many beautiful reasons why people want to learn to fly. For most, true passion is what drives them to the skies. For others, it is a stepping stone to their dream aviation career. Then there is Joanne Oreb who wanted to be a flying vet and Chris Watts who wanted to propose to his girlfriend in the air.

Rod Davison, President HDFC and Ray Lind, Club Captain HDFC being interviewed by Peter Rasmussen of ABC Radio, Mid North Coast

HDFC is strictly professional with their flying training.

“Our goal is to produce GREAT and RESPECTED Pilots. We do this by ensuring total aviation safety and disciplined airmanship through accurate and professional flying training. Therefore, it is important that Pilots Keep Current through Pilot Proficiency Days.” - Ray Lind, Club Captain and Mentor


  • In 2014, Joanne Oreb was our youngest female student to go solo in HDFC’s 56 years history at the tender age of 15 years, 1 month and 11 days.

  • Two years ago, Leslie Williams, Member of Parliament sent a tribute in recognition of Alex McGee’s First Solo with the Hastings District Flying Club being the youngest to achieve First Solo in our almost 60 years history.

  • Matthew Baker as a young boy would sit in the back of the Cessna 172 plane during HDFC’s monthly Pilot Proficiency Days and watch the pilots go through their emergency procedures. Matthew learnt to fly with HDFC and is now flying with Cathay Pacific.

  • Chris Higgins, a Wauchope boy, learnt to fly with Bob Needham in 1984 and is now an accomplished Captain with Net Jets in America. He was so grateful, he came back in 2016 and donated money towards two flying scholarships. Chris also operates a flying school in the US.

  • Chris Watt learnt to fly in 2015 because he wanted to propose to his then girlfriend in the air. Keeping his time away secretly for 18 months so he could fly was difficult. Chris finally proposed in May 2015 and Sage said Yes!

  • Since 1961, HDFC has been offering flying scholarships. The first recipient was 17-year-old Jimmie Higgins. In 2006, the flying scholarships were reintroduced. Since its inception in 2006, approximately 31 scholarships have been awarded. Jimi Ludriks was one of the inaugural recipients and is now a Boeing 747 First Officer with Cathay Pacific.

HDFC will be announcing its flying scholarships soon. Details will be published on our website and social media.

60th Celebrations

“60 years and we’re still looking up. We are celebrating with a dinner on 8th September 6pm at Panthers. We’re seeking ex-members of HDFC to come celebrate with us. It would be great if they could reach out to me, Rod Davison on 0419632477. Details are also on our website Rod Davison, President, HDFC

The public is invited to HDFC’s open house on 14th October 2018 from 9am. They can spend the day viewing planes from the club. One of the highlights we are really proud of is the showcasing of some of the planes which were personally built by our pilots. During the open house, HDFC offers Trial Introductory Flights at $99 each. HDFC is also seeking keen aviators to join HDFC as flying members.

HDFC is where flying dreams come true. Let us take you to the skies and make your dreams soar.


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