Ben vies for acrobatics title

February 23, 2017

Former Tocumwal resident and Australia’s number two display pilot Ben Lappin.

The Victorian Aerobatic Championships will be held at the historic Tocumwal Aerodrome, kicking off today and running to Saturday.

Among the competitors will be former Tocumwal resident and Australia’s number two display pilot Ben Lappin.

Also competing will be the country’s top ranked display pilot, Paul Bennett.

Following on from the club’s successful hosting of the National Championships last November, the championships will be hosted by Murray Border Flying Club.

Club secretary Owen Peake said it was a wonderful event for the club to host again.

‘‘It’s something really good for us,’’ he said.

‘‘We expect about 35 competitors which would bring around 70 people to the town once you consider their families and support teams.

‘‘We had a kitchen upgrade to provide for catering for the event.’’

Ben grew up in Tocumwal in a flying family and was sent solo by his mother Michelle in ultralights and gliders on his 15th birthday.

On his 16th birthday he went solo in the ‘family wagon’, a Cessna 180 which was rebuilt by his father Gerard.

Ben gained his qualifications at the minimum ages and currently holds a commercial pilot’s licence.

He started competing in aerobatic competitions at age 16, first flying a Decathlon then later flying his father’s Pitts S1C.

In his father’s aircraft Ben won the NSW Championships in 2008, in the flying sportsman category.

He also claimed the Australian National Aerobatic Championships in 2009, flying the intermediate category.

Ben has been flying commercially since the age of 18, and has flown over much of Australia.

He enjoys all aspects of flying and has conducted scenic/adventure flights, multi-engine IFR charter and corporate flying, glider towing, parachute dropping, ferry flights and test flights.

‘‘At the Murray Border Flying Club we are particularly pleased and proud that Ben has done so well in his aviation career,’’ Mr Peake said.

Pilots will compete in six classes at Tocumwal this week and spectators are welcome to visit the aerodrome at any time during the competition.

Light lunches, coffee and snacks will be available at a modest cost, provided by the Tocumwal Anglican Ladies Guild.

—Kacee Johnston

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