There was barely room to move in Inverell’s airport terminal on Wednesday morning as locals gathered to see the first Air Corporate flights to and from Brisbane.
Cheers and whistles filled the air as the first passengers disembarked the 19 seater metroliner.
Inverell Air Service Working Group Founder Neil Eigeland said it was a very exciting day for Inverell and was delighted the aircraft’s touch-down had attracted such a huge crowd of well-wishers.
“We’ve been working on this for so long and now it’s actually happened,” Mr Eigeland said.
Ayesha Nedianu was among the small group waiting to board. She watched the fanfare with a delighted smile and said she only wished the service had started a month ago.
“I have to pick up my car from Brisbane,” she said. While taking her daughter to the city for an operation last month, Ms Nedianu’s car was damaged after a collision with a kangaroo.
“I ended up going to Tamworth and having to take a bus all the way back – it was just crazy,” she said.
“It makes a big difference because I can get into Brisbane in one hour instead of like six hours. It’s just so much better.”
Steve Auld and Heather Angel took advantage of the new flights to visit their grandaughter. Mr Auld could remember being on the last flight out of Inverell before the previous service stopped.
“It was an amazing flight, thinking ‘Ok, this is the very last one’, and I remember taking a photo of Inverell up on the Sydney notice board,” he said. “I suspect this sort of flight is a much better fit for Inverell.” He believed many locals will be thrilled to be able to visit relatives more easily, and that there was a large reservoir of Brisbane-based former locals keen to visit their hometown.
“Welcome aboard the first flight out of Inverell,” captain Peter Hooper said to his new passengers with a warm smile. First officer Angus Matheson pulled up the stairs, flicked a few switches, and soon the small aircraft was racing down the runway.
The flight to Moree was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, touching down just 15 minutes later. After a short stopover, passengers were up in the air again. The small aircraft gave those on board a rare view into the cockpit as the pilots worked. Passengers took in the flat farmland stretching out below them and braced for the rare bumpy cloud. Before long, the busy roads and skyscrapers of Brisbane came into view. Right on time, the plane touched down in Brisbane airport at 11.45am.
The local group made their way to the baggage carousel, where Inverell was once again on the noticeboard.
“Magically smooth,” was Mr Auld’s summary of the historic flight.