Vic Boyce’s dying wish was for his ashes to be scattered over the ocean in Newcastle, where he served as a surf lifesaver.
His family aims to grant that wish on Sunday.
The plan is to scatter his ashes from a Tiger Moth over Merewether, Vic’s daughter Tracy Boyce said.
“He used to belong to Nobbys Surf Life Saving Club,” Tracy said.
“He wanted to have his ashes scattered back in the Pacific Ocean in Australia – his home country.
“He wanted his ashes to go out in the current, so he’ll always be travelling the world.”
Vic was a former Royal Newcastle Aero Club member who was born near Raymond Terrace in 1929.
He had lived in the US for 40 years and died in Florida in April at age 86.
Vic had his first flying lesson at age 20. He was proud that former World War II pilots taught him how to fly.
He became an aviation engineer, moving to Canada in 1967 where he stayed for 10 years, before heading to the US.
He missed his friends in the Hunter, but loved chasing opportunities to work on bigger and better planes.
He became renowned in the aviation industry as a master mechanic.
He was also a good carpenter.
“People would hire him to do the best job on their planes mechanically, or building-wise – like woodworking,” Tracy said.
“He was a perfectionist. He wouldn’t let anything go out unless it was perfect.”
Dudley aviation expert Bill Hitchcock said Vic was a “very good aircraft engineer and a great pilot”.
In 1954, Vic and Lou Plumbstead were flying in a Ryan aircraft when it crashed shortly after takeoff at the old Broadmeadow Aerodrome.
Lou, a chief instructor, was flying at the time.
“They had just left the ground and there was some sort of a fuel blockage,” Bill said.
They came down in Goninan rail yards at Broadmeadow, near the Sunnyside Tavern.
The aircraft tipped onto its back, but Vic and Lou were uninjured.
“I can remember Vic telling me all the blokes at the pub came pouring out, some with cigarettes,” Bill said.
Vic was a tad worried about this, with aircraft fuel having been spilled.
But he lived to survive another day. In fact, he lived to survive another crash in a glider named Cloud Buster, which came down over the ocean near Seal Rocks in 1957.
He took off his shoes and used them as paddles.
“She started to break up in the breakers, so he had to swim for it,” Bill said.
Vic was in a heavy Kevlar suit at the time. He had to quickly get out of the suit, so he wouldn’t sink. His swimming ability and surf lifesaving skills came in handy.
The section of the glider with the name Cloud Buster washed up on the beach, “all jagged around it with plywood”.
“For years they had it in the hangar at Broadmeadow,” Bill said.
A newspaper report at the time said a Tiger Moth was towing the glider from Port Macquarie to Newcastle when bad weather drove them to sea.
“They were about two miles off the coast when the tow-rope parted. The glider came down about 200 yards offshore. It sank almost immediately and Mr Boyce, though the seas weren’t the calmest, managed to swim ashore.”
Vic became a member of the Goldfish Club in Britain. It’s for airmen who have swum to safety after a crash.