AN airstrip recently built near Molong to provide aerial bushfire support has passed its first test with flying colours.
The strip at Larras Lee, about 15 kilometres north of Molong, received its first planes when water bombing aircraft were deployed to combat a fire between Cumnock and Baldry last week.
Cabonne mayor Ian Gosper said the water bombers greatly helped firefighters on the ground bring the blaze under control.
“The Larras Lee strip meant the planes were able to turn around a lot quicker and get to the fire field much faster than flying out of Orange airport,” Cr Gosper said.
“I understand there were three planes flying out of Larras Lee and each strategically dumped about four loads on the fire.
“They were able to land, fill up and take off in four minutes.”
A quick fill pump on a trailer is also located at the 1.2 kilometre strip where the Rural Fire Service has built a 270,000 litre tank fed by a pipeline on the property. The tank holds about 75 loads for the water bombers and is constantly replenished.
Cr Gosper said the airstrip was a vital resource not only for Cabonne shire, but the whole region.
He praised the contributions of local landowners who made the facility a reality.
“The Welch family deserve a lot of thanks for providing the land for the airstrip,” Cr Gosper said.
“It was always the dream of Peter Welch who died about 12 months ago. Peter was a lifelong member of the Boomi RFS brigade, a dedicated volunteer and great supporter of the movement. I’m sure his family would be very proud to see the airstrip proving so effective last week.”
Cr Gosper said another Larras Lee landowner Ralph Crystal did an “amazing” job constructing the facility.
“Ralph carted hundreds of B-double loads of gravel from the Welchs' property to the site and spent hundreds of hours building the airstrip,” he said.
The strip is on private property and not open to the public.