Pastoralists' memorial for pilot mates

29 Jul, 2015 04:00 AM
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A memorial has been erected in Halls Creek to remember pilots who died in helicopter accidents on stations.
It is their way of saying thank you and you will not be forgotten
A memorial has been erected in Halls Creek to remember pilots who died in helicopter accidents on stations.

PASTORALISTS gathered in Halls Creek last week to remember pilots who had lost their lives in helicopter accidents on stations across the Kimberley.

More than 15 people have been killed using helicopters for mustering over the past 10 years.

About 100 people gathered and unveiled a memorial dedicated to the pilots.

Kununurra flying pastoral vet Peter Letchford said the community's loss was insignificant to the loss and pain felt by the pilots' families.

"This occasion is dedicated to the helicopter mustering pilots who have lost their lives in the course of doing their job, a job they loved," he said.

"The very nature of their job is not without risks, but they are risks matched by their incredible skill, driven by passion and a dedication.

"Most of us still stand mesmerised and in awe of a pilot and machine, as one, working cattle out of the most difficult locations."

Mr Letchford said he had seen the mustering pilots' contribution over the past 30 years.

"From when the old Bell 47s pioneered helicopter mustering to the nibble Robo's integral role today," he said.

"We as an industry, as pastoralists and as a wider community have been the recipients, the beneficiaries of their skill and service, that has helped transition this region through difficult challenges and position us to grasp the great opportunities that are before us today."

Mr Letchford said a pastoralists had contributed a big part of the initiative, energy and resources for the memorial.

"They know that they are the beneficiaries of their service and sadly their sacrifice," he said.

"But also because in most cases they were good mates.

"Their loss has also been personal.

"It is their way of saying thank you and you will not be forgotten.

"The heart of the memorial was to acknowledge the loss and to say they were appreciated, respected, honoured and this token is to help ensure they will be remembered."

Mr Letchford thanked those involved in organising the memorial and Joe Grace, Northern Metaland Kununurra, who designed and made it.

FarmWeekly

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