[8] The Rocketeers

Team Captain: Chris Stevenson
Other Members:  Wayne Ovens
Aircraft: Vans RV-9A

King Leopold Air is proud to sponsor The Rocketeers in OAR 2015.

King Leopold Air is a Kimberley scenic and charter flights company based in Broome.

For more information on King Leopold Air, please see their website www.kingleopoldair.com.au/

King Leopold Air owners, Phil and Maude Telfer, are long time supporters of the RFDS and have participated in a number OAR’s and plan to do so again. 


Chris (“Rocket”) Stevenson

Chris was born in Kellerberrin, the centre of the wheat belt of Western Australia, and is pleased to be able to support the RFDS and the services it provides to rural Australia.  Ironically one of the reasons for the increasing importance of the RFDS is because of the de-population of country areas as a result of increased economies of scale and farm machinery size.  For example, the State government built his father (a British trained surgeon) a second operating theatre at the Kellerberrin Hospital in the 1960’s in order to meet patient demand.  That service is now met in part by the RFDS when the need arises, and the hospital barely functions as a traditional hospital.

This is Chris’s second RFDS Outback Air Race – but this time he is flying his own aircraft.  VH-UCC is a Vans 9A aluminium low wing aircraft with a fuel injected 320 HP Lycoming and top speed of 180 knots.  The aircraft was built by Ivan Salisbury at the Albany airport 5 years ago and is currently maintained by Bill Keehner.  Chris’s transition flying was done in Albany under the auspices of instructor Ralph Burnett.

Chris has a long held passion for aviation.  He first learned to fly in sailplanes (gliders) at the Beverley Soaring Society under tuition from David Woodward, John Welch and others.  As leisure time became more limited due to work and other sporting interests he obtained his PPL at Jandakot under instruction from Anne Furness at the RACWA so he could continue to fly.

After reaching that stage in life Chris shrugged off the regulation of GA flying and went back to his dream of free flying and “boating” about in thermals.  He obtained his HGFA paragliding licence from Godfrey Wenness in Manilla, NSW and regularly competed in national competitions (without success).   One of his most memorable flights was after climbing Mount Bakewell at York (because the farmer was away on Xmas holidays and had locked the gates) with his paraglider in 30 C heat to then fly a distance of 106 kms – absolute freedom with the eagles.  After briefly experimenting with a paramotor (engine on back) Chris obtained his hang-gliding licence from Rohan Holtkamp in Victoria because hang-gliders fly faster and can handle stronger conditions.  There is no greater thrill (and skill) in life than stepping off a hill and free flying to cloud base in less than 30 minutes - just by finding and staying in a column of rising air.

Chris is looking forward to OAR 2015 and the opportunity to promote the RFDS and the sport of aviation.  Chris is grateful to all those who have passed on their knowledge, skill and wisdom associated with flying in the world of aviation.  Thank you for your support of the RFDS and interest in our team.

About Wayne Ovens

I first dreamt of flying as a child while watching RAAF Macchi's and the occasional F111 and Mirage flying low over our farm in the Northern Wheatbelt. From then on every drive past RAAF Pearce had me with my nose pressed against the window straining to catch a glimpse of the aircraft.

Years later my dream was realised as a student flying those same Macchi's over the same wheat fields. After a number of years flying the C130 Hercules, I returned to Pearce as an instructor once again flying the Macchi.

After the Air Force, I joined National Jet Systems (which became Cobham) based in Perth and flying mining charter and QantasLink routes. Nearly 20 years later and three aircraft types (BAe146, Boeing717 and now the Embraer 190) I am still here.

My return to light aircraft was through moving next door to my team partner. The occasional flight in his RV was always great fun but did require a serious reset of the landing flare point!

When the opportunity came to participate in the OAR2015, it was an easy decision to make. Growing up in the country and with a sister-in-law who is a country based nurse, I appreciate that the RFDS are a vital resource of which I am proud to assist by fundraising.