FOURTEEN years of work is finally paying off for the Orange Aero Club with the $350,000 Max Hazelton Aero Centre beginning to take shape.
Yesterday marked a milestone for the club with the centre section of the curved steel roof lifted into place with a crane.
The building is on track to be finished by March.
President Phil Robertson said the aero centre would include an undercover area for patients being transferred from road ambulances to fixed-wing planes and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, along with a clubhouse and meeting room.
“We haven’t had our own facility [in fourteen years] we could call our own,” he said.
“[But] of primary importance is having the medical interchange and undercover transfer area for patients going from road to air ambulance.”
Mr Robertson said transfers could happen up to 10 times a week.
“It used to be done on the tarmac in all weather ... it’s not only for the patients, it’s for the staff and the patients and it will make a big difference.”
The building was funded by an $80,000 state government Regional Building Program grant, $100,000 from Orange City Council, $6300 from the Orange Business Chamber and $5000 from Hands Across NSW.
Council will contribute an extra $100,000 to $150,000 to finish off the project in the form of a long-term loan so the 400-square metre building can be used as the airport’s temporary terminal for 18 months while work gets under way to replace the 1960s-era building.
It will be shared by passengers boarding Regional Express (Rex) airlines, newcomer Brindabella Airlines and the Cadia Valley Operations jet.
Council commercial and emergency services manager Kel Gardiner said the partnership between the council and the aero club was a win-win for both.
“The aero club have been very good to deal with,” he said.
“It means they’ll get a clubhouse ahead of schedule and it means there will be an aeromedical interchange.”
“The building is the aero club’s project but we’re assisting with the project management.”
Mr Robertson said the club’s members had done the majority of the work on the building on a voluntary basis.
The club will continue to fundraise to complete the building.