1972 - 2022

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of The Scouts NSW Air Activity Centre providing Scouts, and other groups, with safe and fun aviation experiences right across NSW.

 

Since 1972, we have promoted aviation to support the overall mission of Scouts to the education of young people through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law, to help build a world where our youth are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society.

Old photo of Scouts next to a plane

From the many Scouts associated with the program, some went on to achieve big milestones, including Senior Pilot Audrey Williams. Audrey was both a Ranger Leader for Girl Guides and a Scout member of the Base. She began learning to fly at the Base in September 1972 and was the first female Base member to gain her wings. She was later awarded the Nancy ‘Bird’ Walton Trophy in April 1985 for the most noteworthy contribution to aviation by a woman in Australia. We have, and still are, setting up many air-related careers for our members, including former Scouts Boyd Williams and Geoff Scrimes who both joined Qantas and are still active Scout Leaders.

Man teaching Scouts about aviation

Today, we engage and inspire young Australians to develop confidence, resilience, and leadership through aviation. Considering the history and success of Scouts NSW Aviation Activity Centre and our members past and present, 50 years of Scouts NSW operating Air Activity Days is a significant milestone for all Scouts that should be celebrated. This celebration is not only to commemorate the achievements of Scouts pioneers but to inspire and encourage our youth to live their aero dreams.

 

Brief History of the Scouts NSW Air Activity Centre

  • In 1966, the “Australian Boy Scouts Association”, as it was then known, set up a committee comprising representatives of all Branches (States) to review Scouting programs to bolster their relevance in the 1970s and through to the turn of the century. This committee was called the “Design for Tomorrow Committee” and comprised Keith Jones, Ken Partridge and Reg Thompson.
  • The implementation of new programs commenced in 1971 and provided for three major activities paths: Campcraft, Water Activities, and Air Activities. However, Scouting then faced the challenge of making training in these specialist areas available to all members of the Scouting Movement in Australia.
  • The committee carried out discussions with the Department of Civil Aviation and representatives of various aero clubs and resulted in the committee recommending that the Scout Movement should set up its own Air Activities Centre. And thus, it was decided that the Scouts NSW Air Activities Centre would be established at Camden Airport and that the Scouts Association should acquire its own aircraft.
  • On Saturday 3rd June 1972, Scouts Manly-Warringah Area Commissioner, Mr. Reg Thompson, accepted the keys to the Cessna 150F VH-ROO aircraft from Rex Aviation and named it Skippy, “the first Scout-owned aircraft in the world!”.
  • From then on, Air Activity Days were conducted for Scout Units each weekend. Records indicate over the first five years of the Air Activities Centre operation, approximately 15,000 Scout and Guide members were introduced to aviation. By the tenth anniversary this number had risen to over 50,000, and now 50 years young it is estimated that by over 250,000 youth members have been introduced into the special world of aviation. The goal of Scouts if for youth members to learn life skills such as independent thinking, leadership and problem solving. The Air Activities Centre provides unique aviation related activities which contribute to this learning in a fun and practical way.