Welcome to the Shepparton Aero Club

There’s no better place to go than where there’s a local you know, so the goal is – as an Australian Women Pilots’ network – to introduce your strip, your club and your culture. It’s a fantastic way to receive like-minded visitors, and a great excuse to commit some Aviation!

Nobody embodies this spirit more than Lucy Simkin, President of the Goulburn Valley Aero Club (aka the Shepparton Aero Club). Not only the first lady president but also the youngest so far, Lucy has wasted no time in organising every event she can think of, every way she can recruit new students, and every way she can give back to the Club she feels has given so much to her. She’s at the airport almost every waking moment and it is easy to tell that, even though she’s the first aviatrix in her family, aviation sure runs in her blood. Here’s a bit of an insight into the life of Lucy…

“Its flat around here, the weather’s always sunny (almost) and we tootle about the skies of Shepparton City, playing formation or heading off on an adventure. There are six on our fly away today, and we’re off to Wangaratta to have a squiz at some Warbirds, eat a burger then head home. I’m PIC with a 16 year old, recently qualified RA-Aus lad so I’m giving him a bit of a demo as to how I like to navigate the aircraft, some tips of the trade, practicing my instructing and trying not to be a nag when he wanders.” 

photo by Bronni Bowen (@bronni)

The Goulburn Valley Aero Club turns 60 this year and they’ve been through a fair bit. Like many a club, they dabbled in flight training – the remnants of which is their sole Tecnam P92ES 24-4774, the very same aircraft Lucy took her first ever flight in and the one she instructs in today. The irony is not lost on her as she nurtures future CPL pilots in the aircraft which started it all for her. 

Lucy enthusiastically encourages her students to get amongst the aero club scene, just like she did when she was in their position – involve yourself as much as possible with your aero club and, in this way, you’ll develop your network, experience new aircraft, learn from old hats and go on adventures you otherwise might not be able to afford or have the opportunity to experience. It’s the sort of scheme that works if you work hard at it, and she’s a testament to that. 

“Through my aero club, I was able to partake in formation flying and aerobatics, which truly inspired me to achieve well in other areas of my flight training. Having experienced such generosity it was only natural to want to give something back – so I volunteered as Club Secretary in 2016. In early 2018, our president of seven years decided he wanted a break. I volunteered and was accepted into the role as the first female president of the GVAC. That same year, I also completed my instructor rating and formation endorsement.”

The GVAC is located at the Shepparton Airport, an 8 min drive from Shepparton CBD, with the closest accommodation within walking distance. It’s the home of two flying schools and features a long, North-south runway and 423m gravel East-west. You’ll find  AVGAS available and, as far as special procedures go, things are exceptionally unremarkable. Landing fees do apply but will be waived if participating in a GVAC fly-in event. Please check the ERSA and current procedures before you go!

The GVAC club rooms boast a bar, projector, kitchen and shower – plenty of space for movie nights and club room sleepovers. It’s a cosy, homey vibe, and there’s always one or two true locals milling around. They also have a satellite airstrip at Wahring Field, where camping under-wing and bonfires frequently occur in the cooler months. Sometimes there’s a pancake breakfast there, too!

A short flyaway – it’s just a hop,

Not much fuel – it’ll use a drop.

A cheap aviation adventure – and the pancakes are hot!

Just a hop skip and a thump into Wahring ALA and you have yourself a ticket to Pancakes and Brekkie, just like in Sheppie.

ALA Grass Strip just off the Highway adjacent to the Wahring Servo

Message us if you need more info!

See you at WAHRING!

Looking into the new year, the GVAC crew are sniffing around for fly away ideas. It’s impossible not to feel at home here – they welcome visitors to the strip with open arms and, because Lucy’s the local you know, you’re all invited! Pancake Breakfasts are held on the first Sunday of every month and, if the GVAC gets a heads up, they love to arrange a special welcome for travellers passing through. The club rooms are always open, regardless! In the summer things are bustling with students and the odd fire fighting helicopter pilot on call, and in winter they keep the social MR well up to date, making sure there’s always something to see and do. There’s even an unofficial hot lunch for ten dollars a head on Saturdays (call ahead to confirm). Lucy is always happy to host visitors in her two spare rooms, or to help anyone in and out of the city in her little red Corolla.

Shep-town itself has a good coffee strip and shopping mall, paved bush walking paths, lakes, botanical gardens, motor museum, art gallery, kids’ town adventure playground, a water park, go-karts, and trampolining. They also feature a huge array of random plastic painted cows, nobody really knows why.

If you’re passing through Victoria, make this great little strip a stop on your itinerary – you won’t regret it. Stories and legends are in abundance here, and you’ll undoubtedly depart with the warm feeling all little country aero clubs with big hearts impart.

The Goulburn Valley Aero Club celebrates its 60th year in 2019 with events throughout, continuing its proud tradition of supporting aviation in the region and acting as a major social base for local pilots who benefit from it’s close proximity to Shep City. Mark the big 60th Birthday Hangar Bash in your diary as one to attend; held on Saturday the 30th of March with a luncheon from 12 noon and dinner from 6 pm.

First published as ‘Destination: SHEPPARTON, VICin Issue 264 Airnews Magazine, Autumn Edition 2018. Words by Bronni Bowen and Lucy Simkin, all photos by Bronni (@bronni)

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