Merimbula Aerodrome.....the early days
Merimbula Airport is ranked 59th in Revenue passengers and is designated
YMER It is 1607 metres long with an elevation of 7 feet amsl and one runway
designated 03/21 that is 30m wide. In the year ending 2011 revenue pasengers
were 51,299 and it had 2889 movements that year.
The idea of a regular air service to the Merimbula District was first raised in
1933, when the operators of Adastra airline inspected a paddock at Jellat Jellat
and Bega's Racecourse Farm as possible landing sites. Further suggestions
were put forward, including Wallagoot and Tathra, however in 1936 Frogs
Hollow was selected as the landing site. Frog's Hollow strip opened in 1937 and
in 1940, Butler Air TransportCo. took over service from Adastra.
Frogs Hollow landing strip failed to satisfy a number of Bega people, for whom
the 7 mile distance proved to be inconvenient. At the same time, prospective
commuters from the area's southern region were looking to secure their own airport.
In January 1947 the preferred site for a permanent aerodrome was nominated as Halfway Hill (the present Merimbula Airport site) A survey of this site was carried out by the Pambula Progress Association and ex RAAF member James Minehan. In 1949 the Department of Air announced the Merimbula site would become the major district aerodrome.
Butler Air services announced that as from 1950 the company would withdraw its services from Frog's Hollow, as the government subsidy had been withdrawn, this was no longer economical. Intending passengers were now required to board their aircraft at Moruya.
Five years later a contract was let to McKenna and Armistead Pty Ltd from Mascot for construction of an aerodrome at Merimbula. Repeated delays, mostly from the failure of grass seeds to strike on the runways surface, postponed the aerodromes opening. Finally on Friday 1st of May 1959 an eager crowd gathered at the new airport to witness the arrival of the first aircraft, a Butler Air Transport Douglas DC3 Viewmaster carrying passengers, mail and the good wishes of everyone present. According to local legend, it was daredevil trainee pilot Teddy Wheelan who made the first landing, touching down in a cloud of dust while the tournapulls were leveling the landing strip.
The Official opening of the Merimbula Airport took place 30th May 1959.
Butler Air Transport ( later NSW Airlines ) a subsidsidary of Ansett Airlines
continued to operate their Merimbula service with Shorts 360 Aircraft. Kendall
Airlines also operated from Merimbula to Cooma and Melbourne with
Dehavilland Heron and Fairchild Metroliners. Both Hazelton and Kendall were
owned by Ansett, which went into receivership in 2001.
Following a stressful period with the airport operating hired aircraft, Hazelton
and later, Kendall airlines resumed services to Sydney and Melbourne,
respectively. Both were purchased by Regional Express (REX) in 2003.eellton and Later Kendall airlines resumed services to Sydney and Melbourne
Source: People of the Lake. Helen Swinbourne and Olwen Morris