Airport to be part of a slice of history

Published on 28 March 2024

Portland Airport Public Viewing Area.png

All eyes will be on Portland Airport soon as it plays host to a historic round-Australia flight.

On Saturday, 6 April 2024, the airport will host a leg of the event to celebrate 100 years since the first circumnavigation of the continent by seaplane.

Exactly 100 years ago to the day the Royal Australian Air Force began that historic journey a group of seaplanes will arrive at Portland Airport from Point Cook on a leg that will go towards creating their own slice of history.

Cathy Babis is attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the mainland in a seaplane while James Moline, at 80, is aiming to set the record for the oldest pilot to perform the feat.

They will be among a group of 4-6 planes on this leg of the 60-day trip (which begins in Queensland on Saturday), and the public will get their chance to see a piece of history.

Weather permitting they will land in Portland about 12.15pm on the day.

Portland Airport manager Samantha Kohlman said the facility was thrilled to be playing its part.

“The viewing area for the public will be around the Portland Aero Club rooms behind a fence,” she said.

“We are thrilled to be hosting the re-enactment of the centennial celebration of the circumnavigation around Australia by seaplane and also the new history of the first woman and oldest person to do the same trip.

“As well as that Prue and Kerry Mason are local Aero Club members who will be involved with this leg of the trip who have their own private hangar and aircraft and they will have their Fairchild Argus (World War II era plane) there on the day.”

The Aero Club will be opened for the day and all the planes will be parked in front of that area.

The event is being organised by David Geers of Australian Seaplane Adventures, a friend of the Masons who will co-fly a SeaRey amphibian plane with Ms Babis.

Mr Geers is a past president of Seaplane Pilots of Australia and a current committee member.

Ms Babis, a US Army veteran who only arrived in Australia this week, has 53 years of aviation experience including as an air traffic controller, former chief flight instructor for two flight schools, weather observer and aviation instrument map maker.

The pair have three aims on the journey, apart from creating history – to raise awareness of STEM education as well as diversity in the aviation industry and to raise awareness for the Roses in the Ocean suicide prevention charity.

“We are very excited to be visiting Portland for our first stop after the official launch at Point Cook, and having good friends Prue in Kerry is an extra bonus,” Mr Geers said.

“I am amazed at the interest people are now taking, honestly I am struggling to keep up with returning emails and requests.

“I'm also overwhelmed with the support that we've had from friends and strangers donating to our cause.

“The money donated will ensure that we are able to record our adventure and produce a book and documentary at the end of our tour.”

For more information on the event visit

Caption: The purple shaded area is where the public will be able to view the planes from.

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