COBDEN’S airstrip had a temporary visitor over the weekend – although there were hopes it could find a permanent home at the revamped field.
Rohan Flying Services’ Peter Rohan, who operates his business from the Cobden Airfield, flew an ‘Air Tractor 802’ from Bairnsdale to Cobden over the weekend.
The plane, which is a purpose-built fire fighting craft, drew in the interest of locals including Cobden CFA volunteers and Cobden Airfield Committee.
Mr Rohan said the Air Tractor 802 – which has a wingspan of 18 metres – carries 3200 litres of water.
“It’s spent the last week at Bairnsdale and I was lucky enough to bring it home,” he said.
Mr Rohan said having the Cobden Airfield as a suitable location for a plane like the Air Tractor 802 was something to work towards.
“I’d love to see this aircraft here over summer to protect the local community,” he said.
Cobden Airfield Committee deputy chair Bill Woodmason said he would also like to see the dedicated firefighting plane based at Cobden.
He said it was positive to see the Air Tractor 802 at Cobden and making use of the upgraded runway.
Mr Woodmason said a high pressure water supply would need to be located at the airfield if the plane was to be located at Cobden.
He said the committee would be working to find a way to see the plane based in Cobden.
Mr Woodmason said the committee was also hoping to locate a helipad at the Cobden Airfield to assist emergency helicopters when needed.
“They’ve (helicopters landing locally) been bogged a couple of times,” he said.
Cobden CFA group officer Mark Roberts said the airfield and having an aircraft with firefighting abilities would be an asset for the area.
“It would be good to see it here,” he said.
“We can see a use for it.”
The now defunct Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) visited the airstrip in 2015 to assess its suitability to host firebomb aircraft and it has been used on a number of occasions fighting fires locally, including at Jancourt and Stony Rises.
Corangamite Shire mayor Jo Beard said the Cobden site was “a great strategic location” for a firefighting aircraft to be able to utilise the airfield.
“It just goes to show the strip’s significance to have a pretty critical part of firefighting equipment visit Cobden,” she said.
“I would like to see any possible funding to be spent there and it recommended as a viable site.”
Cr Beard commended the Cobden community on its extended fundraising efforts which saw the runway upgraded.
“In recent months there has been a lot more use,” she said.
“The infrastructure upgrades, including the sealing of the strip, has opened up the opportunities and this is obviously the vision of the Cobden community, who after many, many years of fundraising, saw the vision realised.”