Sunday, October 12, 2014

Calliope Plane Crash Victim was a "True Gentleman" who had a Passion for Flying

Last Wednesday 8 October, local pilot Lawrie Schmidt's single-engine ICP Savannah XL VG 24-7669 crashed 25km west of Calliope, claiming the life of a much loved and well respected member of the local aviation community.

Dave See of the Callide Dawson Flying Group (CDFG) has written a heart-felt tribute about Lawrie who he described as "a true gentleman who was pursuing his passion for flying".

After a personal tragedy a few years ago, Lawrie had "begun to move on with his life when he purchased his Savannah and achieved his recreational flying certification. He built an airstrip and a hangar on his property not far out of Calliope and looked forward to flying".

However, a couple of years ago Lawrie stopped flying because of ill health and he didn't know whether or not he would be able to get back into it.  About this time, another aviator, Dave Dingle was doing his flight training towards achieving his pilot rating and was told of a chap with a Savannah who lived not far away from him. Dave contacted Lawrie and a strong friendship grew as a result of their joint passion for flying.

Over a period of some months, and with Dave’s encouragement and regular visits, Lawrie's enthusiasm for flying was re-sparked.  And then Lawrie finally got back in the air.  Dave and Lawrie flew together at every opportunity and certainly got to know their local area very well.

Dave See, and his wife Liz, first met Lawrie at the 2012 Monto Fly-In. "He came across as a very polite and courteous man and we were pleased when he expressed a desire to become a member of the Callide Dawson Flying Group. Lawrie involved himself with club functions and activities and was always keen to offer a hand.  At a working bee we had at Thangool in the lead up to the 25th Anniversary Fly-In we almost had to threaten to ‘clout’ Lawrie with the shovel to get him to hand it over to someone younger or put it down.  He did put it down but then proceeded to pick up a rake and continued working anyway."

"At the Fly-In itself he proudly wore his club shirt and his marshalling vest and would have stayed out there in the hot sun all day, if we had let him. When he came off marshalling duty he would find Liz to see what he could help out with on non-airside. At the Old Station Fly In he once again was involved with the parking of planes. At club functions he was always in the midst of the action and lending a hand wherever he could."

Only last weekend, Lawrie and Dave Dingle flew over to Theodore to spend the day with Dave and Liz.  Lawrie was all smiles and just so happy to have successfully ventured into unfamiliar territory.

Dave finishes by saying:  "On Wednesday 8 October, Lawrie has gone to that big airstrip in the sky, Dave Dingle has lost a very special mate, the club has lost a valuable member and everyone who knew him has lost a great mate.  A real true gentleman who never complained about anything or anyone. He will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our world is a better place because of the time he had here with us all."

My thanks to Liz See - Secretary of the Callide Dawson Flying Group - for her permission to re-print sections of Dave's tribute.

1 comment:

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