AND you thought missing out on a window seat was rough.
Buffeted by fierce winds and with the starboard engine disabled, Patrick Gordon Taylor made an extraordinarily heroic decision.
The year was 1935 and Taylor, a decorated fighter pilot, was navigating an airmail flight from Sydney to New Zealand with aviation pioneer Charles Kingsford Smith.
In the frantic moments after the engine failed, Kingsford Smith decided fuel and cargo must be jettisoned.
Undaunted, Taylor climbed out of the cabin of the Southern Cross, clambered along the under-wing strut, drained oil from the disabled engine and transferred it to the overheating motor port.
His remarkable courage, along with Kingsford Smith’s flying skills, allowed the plane to land safely.
Taylor was later recognised with a knighthood and an Empire Gallantry Medal before his passing in 1966.
And on Saturday night, 80 years after risking his life to save the Southern Cross, Sir Patrick Gordon Taylor was honoured again as an inductee into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame.
The celebrated aviation pioneer was among six new inductees into the hall of fame.
They included Deniliquin’s John Macknight, the founder of Macknight Airlines, a carrier that connected the Riverina to Sydney for more than two decades.
The Temora Aviation Museum was also given a nod for its steadfast contribution to aviation over the past 15 years.
The night was a fitting celebration of both the flying machines and the magnificent men behind them.
Organisers are now eyeing a new frontier, aiming to build a dedicated museum to formalise the achievements of inductees in bricks and mortar.
The museum would be located in Wagga, and rightly so.
The city boasts a strong aviation pedigree, home to Regional Express’s fleet of aircraft and a significant RAAF base.
A hall of fame would be an evolving tribute to the men and women that have shaped this great industry. It would also add another string to Wagga’s tourist bow.
Let’s hope the vision can get some clear air.
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