Max spread his wings in face of adversity

AN Australian entrepreneur will fly into Orange next Saturday to honour an aviation legend.

Launching The Hazelton Story, Dick Smith will fly to Orange in his chartered helicopter to help give the Max and Laurel Hazelton story wings.

Author Denis Gregory said the story was an insight into the life of one of rural Australia’s great aviation families, adding Mr Hazelton took to the air throughout a period of time when air travel wasn’t viewed favourably.

“It was bold,” Mr Gregory said.

“He did something at a time when nobody wanted anything to do with aviation. He persevered. He pioneered in aerial agriculture. 

“He saw it all as a normal business enterprise. When they were banned and nobody wanted to, he flew the Springboks around on one of their Australian tours. He didn’t worry about the politics of it all.”

Learning to fly at Bankstown in 1952, Mr Hazelton later earned his licence and bought his first plane, an Auster Aiglet, in 1953.

Starting out as Hazelton Air Taxi and Charter Service out of Toogong and then later Cudal, the Hazelton Airlines brand was soon launched and established as an Australian independent airline.

Its scheduled passenger operations began in 1975 with flights between Orange and Canberra. 

By the 1980s Hazelton operated a sizeable fleet of aircraft and, after becoming a highly-successful airline, was later bought by Ansett.

However, after Ansett’s demise, Hazelton Airlines was acquired by a consortium known as Australiawide Airlines and was merged with fellow Ansett subsidiary Kendell Airlines to create Regional Express.

Mr Gregory said it would be remiss of any Hazelton story to be penned without mentioning his wife Laurel.

“Max did all the flying but Laurel was there doing plenty of the work for the business,” Mr Gregory said, adding for a man who was “steered away” from aviation, Mr Hazelton showed plenty of determination.

“He was dead-set keen on it all and he’s taken it to what it is today.”

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