It was late afternoon when Fr. Joel and I decided to take time out and go for a long walk. We reminisced about the great times and hardships we encountered while building the new Church in Thurgoona. But now with the Complex complete, we were looking for another Project to get our teeth into. Naturally the Parish needs are our first priority, but what Fr. Joel and I talked about was a hobby of some type that would be a challenge to us. Wild ideas were put forward, we joked about building a yacht, a plane or putting a car together. We were looking for a new challenge that would involve us in the joyful act of giving.
Not long after we invited a guest to speak to the parishioners about his recent visit to East Timor and he spoke of the plight of the people. Listening to this man I felt a jolt back to reality. I responded with a personal commitment to help in some way, although I had no idea how.
“A fly-a-thon, that is what we can do”, the thought struck me like a bolt of lighting. How this was to come about I had no idea. My license to fly had long expired and more to the point there was no plane. Yet I found myself pricing aircraft kits. God was going to have to work a miracle for this project to get on the runway. He certainly did have his hand to play. Within a short time a friend simply asked how much did I need for an aircraft kit. I said $70,000. To my astonishment he replied, “Ok, go ahead and order it”.
We ordered a Jabiru J400 from Bundaberg. It could seat 4 people and was powered with a flat 6 cylinder Jabiru motor. The kit arrived and was carefully placed in the parish garage workshop. Monday’s were set aside for the project which I had undertaken as a hobby. I thought building an aircraft surely would not be as difficult as the Church Complex, however, there were times when I had to learn the hard way especially when the fibre glass resin caused a reaction whenever I came into contact with it. With the ready help of a few parishioners and a few more generous sponsors, we faced the challenges as they arose. A constant stream of interested people would drop in, some just to look, others astonished, but more than a few with helpful hints and an offer of support.
With great interest shown, sponsors came forward providing for additional parts, tools and materials including the final paint work. Likewise, it was enthusiasm for the project that inspired the generosity of sponsors enabling me to update my pilot’s license.
“Angel Wings” is now awaiting weight and balance, and a final inspection before her maiden flight. I would like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the generosity and support of so many who offered their services and took an interest in the project.
Fr. John Fowles ccs