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Aviation

Peter Norvill has been an aviator for most of his life. His very first flying experience at the controls was at the age of 17 when he was given the opportunity to have a trial instructional flight at Bankstown Aerodrome in Sydney. He was certain that he could never learn to fly - however, a short time later he decided that he was going to give it a go and started taking lessons from the late John Henry* at Tamworth Aero Club. He had to keep these lessons a secret from his parents, which he managed to do until he was near to having his private licence.

Not only has Peter achieved fame following his solo around the world flight in 1988, in recognition of which he was awarded an OAM (Order of Australia Medal), but he has also undertaken a number of record-breaking and commemorative flights, including:

Cessna VH-PSV
• First non-stop flight across Australia – Carnarvon to Coolangatta 1983
• Fastest speed around Australia 1984
• First single-engine crossing of Tasman Sea – Tasmania to New Zealand 1986
• First solo flight around the world by an Australian in an aeroplane May-June 1988 (35 days), also included Trans-Pacific Commemorative Flight 1928-1988

Mooney 205 VH-JGC
• Fastest time between Sydney and Alice Springs return
• Longest non-stop flight over Australian soil, 40 hours 5 minutes, (9,406 kms) July 1993
• First double, non-stop, Tasman Sea crossing December (New Year's Eve) 1993
• First single-engine flight to the Antarctic Ice area, January 1994

John Henry, Gunnedah Aerodrome, Tamworth Aero Club Victa 115's VH-TWE & TWG. At this stage John was Chief Flying Instructor for the Tamworth Aero Club. John was killed in a head-on car crash just out of Tamworth on the Werris Creek Road on the night of Anzac Day, 1978.
(* John Henry was an ex-
WWII Lancaster pilot who
took part in 'The Thousand
Bomber Raid'.)

After cessation of his record flights he held the greatest number of official aviation records of any Australian at that time.

Peter attained his commercial licence before taking over the running of Rock Dhu in 1977. Becoming a full-time farmer and grazier did not interfere too much with his flying career. He trained with Ian Martin at Tamworth Aero Club until he became a flying instructor and spent a couple of years training pilots in the Hunter Valley and the North West of New South Wales.

Col Pay offered Peter the chance to do an agricultural pilot rating. Peter then earned part of his living crop-dusting as well, throughout many areas of New South Wales. He flew a FU24-954 (400HP) Fletcher aircraft (New Zealand manufactured), spreading fertiliser. Crop-dusting involves dare-devil flying, close to the ground, and is certainly not for the faint-hearted, and Peter enjoyed this type of flying above all others.

He realised that he hadn't even known how to fly until he began crop-dusting. There is a real camaraderie among crop-dusting pilots, and a special brand of humour associated with it. Another thing Peter enjoyed about crop-dusting was the close relationship he developed with his clients, as he was a farmer and grazier himself.

Peter's Cessna, the plane he flew around the world, still rests in the hangar behind the homestead, chained down to the cement slab – Peter says this is to prevent the plane from taking off in the strong winds that blow at Rock Dhu, but maybe it's so he can't be tempted to take it out for just one more flight.

Peter's book Solo Around The World is available for purchase. Click on the "Publications" link to the left.

Peter with Victa ‘Airtourer 150'
at Tamworth, 1970

C210 VH-SIK 1978

DC-3 Tamworth Airport. This is
as good as air travel got in
the early 1960s. East West
Airlines DC 3’s flew over us
numerous times each day
back then on the Tamworth
– Sydney route

Click here for

Ag Flying (Crop Dusting)

Solo Around The World Record

Australian and Other Records

Aviation Licences

Stories and Articles

_____________________________

Peter aged 13 in the DH Beaver,
grounded due to an Air Race
from Archerfield, QLD, to
Parafield, SA - via Bankstown
and Moorabbin, Vic - and held
over three days, Easter 1964.
The ag aircraft were grounded
while the race aircraft passed
over Murrurundi, which was such
a stupid, stupid thing. Ridiculous
rubbish. I remember we were
looking up at them and they were
so high and tiny – can still see
them today - how anyone could
have grounded ag aircraft because of it, was utter rubbish.

Murrurundi Community Centre
and Aviation Museum

In 2012 the Upper Hunter
Shire Council met with local community members in
Murrurundi to discuss the
proposed construction of a
new facility for the Murrurundi
Community Centre and Aviation
Museum to house Peter's
Cessna, memorabilia and
provide a community art
gallery. The Cessna has not
flown since the mid 1990’s.
It was always the plan that
one day it be given to The
People and go on permanent
public display.

To view the Preliminary Design
click the image above.

As part of the fund seeking for
the building a TV crew shot a
news clip, 2013

John Henry with Airtourer 150
VH-AHW at Rock Dhu - he had
bee boxes here, 1972.

John was killed in a head-on car
crash just out of Tamworth on the
Werris Creek Road on the night
of Anzac Day, 1978. As Fate would
have it, the car he collided with
was driven and occupied by
people I also knew. They too
were killed instantly.
John, with his tens of thousands
of hours in aircraft, had to die
in a bloody car

My final cross country for private
licence - Rock Dhu, taken late
afternoon on the return leg,
Bankstown to Tamworth,
28th July, 1970

With Beech 23 Musketeer.
It was brand new, on cross hire
to Tamworth Aero Club for training.
I was trusted to fly it on my own
with a mere 16 hours total
flying time

 

Landed, Timor Road
bushfire 1989