2010 December: Dirranbandi (Qld) Crop Dusting Accident

Mourners Farewell Neville. 31 December 2010 – The Northern Star

RENOWNED local aviator Neville Bienke was farewelled by hundreds of mourners in a moving ceremony at a packed St Andrews Anglican Church in Lismore yesterday.

Mr Bienke, 66, was tragically killed in a crop-dusting accident on a property south of Dirranbandi in Queensland last week.

In a fitting tribute, fellow pilots performed a spectacular ‘missing man’ flyover in his honour as his casket was carried from the church.

His daughter, Nicole Alison, spoke eloquently of her father as a larger than life figure who lived his dreams.

She remembered growing up around ‘Avgas, oily rags and burning hot tarmacs’ with a dad who had ‘flying in his blood’ and took them on great adventures to fly-ins and air shows.

“He should have been born with wings,” she said.

“One of his favourite (stories) was at the age of six he had to have wooden blocks tied to his feet so he could reach the pedals of a Tigermoth.”

Remembered by all as a man with enormous experience, general knowledge and wisdom, Ms Allison said most of the many phone calls to her father began with, ‘Hey Neville, what do you think about this…’.

Former Lismore mayor John Crowther remembered the Tigermoth tales well, having first met Mr Bienke at seven years of age as he was being ‘strapped into the front cockpit’.

“That was Neville’s start off, he lived for flying and, to cut a long story short, he was the complete aviator,” he said.

“He could have been today a senior captain in any of the airlines if he wanted to go that way, because he was so good.

“But he loved the flexibility of general aviation; he was an excellent aerobatic pilot and instructor and on top of that he was a bloody good bloke.” Mr Bienke was buried in a private family ceremony.