Magnetic Island North Queensland
  Phone 0427 398 838 Monday 19th o March 2018 on Magnetic Island  
A young koala's beach adventure

November 6th 2008
Can they share the air?

Dr Andy Lewis launching his kite near the helipad Since Magnetic Times released news that Melbourne-based company Microflite was interested in adding Magnetic Island to a commercial helicopter service it is planning for the region, one activity, which shares a need for the same landing and take-off space, and is thought to be the fastest growing watersport in the world, kiteboarding, has now emerged as an activitity which could be impacted by the chopper plans.

Island resident and local kiteboarder Dr Andy Lewis has however been in discussion with Mr Gair Bowbyes from Microflite.

Nelly Bay is, according to Andy Lewis, the only kiteboarding spot on Magnetic Island that works in the prevailing trade winds, and the area adjacent to the old helipad is the only beachside location free of trees where large power kites can be safely launched and landed.

Kiteboarders at Nelly Bay

"I wanted to ensure that Gair understood that regular helicopter operations from the old helipad may affect the safety of our kiteboarding activities on the Island, and that we literally have nowhere else to ride," said Andy Lewis.

"Gair was sympathetic to our concerns and we had a productive discussion about alternative sites for the helicopter operations, as well as ways to allow helicopters and kiteboarders to safely co-operate in their use of Nelly Bay.

"Based on the expected heli service frequency of only three times per week, and the sporadic nature of the wind and our kiteboarding activities, it seems likely that the two activities are not incompatible at the Nelly Bay site, although, clearly, we would prefer to kite there without a helicopter service and I encouraged Gair to investigate the other possible locations. We agreed to hold further talks as the proposal evolves".

The Island kite community currently numbers about 8 locals and additional visitors from time to time.

Kiteboarding is, according to Andy Lewis, currently the fastest growing water sport in the world, and North Queensland is increasingly becoming recognised as a prime location for the sport due to its warm weather, regular trade winds and friendly atmosphere.

Andy said, "There is growing interest in kiteboarding tourism around Magnetic Island and the Townsville region, and we hope to be starting some kiteboarding expeditions to the nearby reefs and islands in 2009. To this end, it is important that we practice the sport safely and with respect for other beach and water users".

More information on kiteboarding on Magnetic Island can be found on Andy's website at

Photos courtesy of Reef Eco Tours

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Can they share the air?
November 7th 2008
I have had extremely constructive discussions with both Dr Andy Lewis and Tim Norman of Horseshoe Bay - both avid kiteboarders. Though I have not managed to try kiteboarding as yet, I have been a keen windsurfer for many, many years. I very much understand and appreciate both the issues and their specific concerns.

I am very much encouraged by the well reasoned and collaborative approach of those representing the kiteboarding community. It is a shining example of exactly the type of consultation I was hoping to achieve.

If (if) the original heli pad in Nelly Bay does appear to be viable on all other grounds, I have suggested a meeting with the kiteboarding community, and Andy specifically, such that we may identify the risks (both to safety and to the enjoyment of the area), then design operating procedures that mitigate those risks to a mutually acceptable level. In a past life, one of my secondary duties as a pilot in the RAAF and RAN, was Flying Safety Officer. In that capacity, amongst other tasks, I developed Mission Risk Profiles (MRPs) for specific tasks. The process is formal, professional and extremely effective when developed in collaboration with the subject matter experts.

Personally I am delighted that a community group, likely to be specifically affected by the use of the original heli pad at Nelly Bay, has been identified, discussions have ensued and that group has proven itself to be willing to discuss cooperative possibilities.

I believe that, once again, with all other things being equal, we may indeed be able to 'share the air'. Many thanks to Tim and Andy for establishing contact.
One-eyed sloth
November 7th 2008
Dr Andy - thank you for your input; I had forgotten about the kite-boarders I had seen in Nelly Bay to X-Base.
This adds further to my quest to put the commercial helipad in/on Nelly Bay Harbour. The one and only suitable place.
Please help us push for this. Gair and his backers have to do their venture professionally or not at all.
November 7th 2008
The mooted helicopter business is a community issue and concerns all islanders (eg I believe Dr Lewis lives in Picnic Bay). Therefore, all debate on the matter should be public. The moment we have one-on-one discussions with Gair, we remove ourselves from the broader discussion, and having had a "one-on-one", our comments are then rendered ineffective. By leaving the debate open, objections are there for everyone to see, reflect and comment upon.
November 10th 2008
Be careful what you wish for fluffyduck. If every aspect of every "community issue" (including every business flurry, domestic scandal, financial ruction, political squabble, religious arm wrestle and sports result) was debated in public - with you in the peanut gallery, there wouldn't be time to eat and sleep, let alone have a one-on-one discussion. There is such a thing as 'too much information' you know.
November 12th 2008
I am not totally opposed to the helicopter business, just it,s location as i am also a local kiteboarder who feels our kiting site at nelly bay might be lost. Odviously kites and helicopters dont mix.
Gair, I have a suggestion that you may want to consider , why not put floats on your helicopter, so then you could land it anywhere. You could land at Horseshoe bay where you could easily get a permit for it as there is already a commerical seaplane operating there [Redbaron]. Or you could land at Picnic bay, its close to Townsville and i,m sure they,d welcome the business you,d generate there. You can land anywhere, just not at Kite beach Nelly bay. cheers
one eyed sloth
November 12th 2008
chasmac - "too much information"? We all know a snow job when we see one. With a little insight and analysis any logical person can sieve the relevant from the irrelevant, the emotional from the logical and self interest from the common good.
No such thing as "too much information" for the informed and analytical.
November 12th 2008
Good one shadysteve, don't let the helicopter interfere with your activities, just fob it off onto other people. NIMBY responses have to be the worst kind - if you don't want this in your backyard, then who are you to suggest it be in someone else's?
Quite a few Horseshoe Bay residents are still fighting the Red Baron operation (Red Baron didn't win his case in the AAT - his lawyer found a loophole which placed Horseshoe Bay under EPA jurisdiction (Qld) and therefore made the AAT (Commonwealth) powerless to hear any objections to the licence). (And we all know how efficient and effective EPA has been of late). So if the helicopter goes to Picnic Bay, does that mean that those residents get to have their very own bitter, divisive s...fight?
That's why, chasmac, some issues must be debated publicly - otherwise Gair Bowbyes is effectively doing little deals (no, I do not mean anything corrupt, underhand or illegal etc) with individuals which should be open to public scrutiny. Its also why comments such as yours only detract from the argument, which is, do we want or need a helicopter service to Magnetic Island and if we do want/need such a service, what impact will it have on the island and islanders?
November 13th 2008
thats exactly right fluffyduck , my concerns regard losing the kiteboarding area .thats why theres publlic comment. so dont go rating my response especially standing behind your gutless fairy name
November 13th 2008
So, fluffy, if shadeysteve is informed (one-on-one or publicly) that the helicopter will not be converted to floats (because they are completely useless in the other 95% of its intended operation and you can't slip them on and off like a pair of gumboots), then the whole discussion about NIMBY responses and Red Baron and blah blah blah has been a complete waste of space - a diversion, even a red herring.
However, I agree that "some issues must be debated publicly".... just not every single nuance and every single red herring and every single blah blah blah so that cheap shots get fired around because there's nothing much happening ("....we all know how efficient and effective EPA has been of late"). Debate?
By the way, this 'debate' is not about "do we want or need a helicopter service to Magnetic Island...?" It is headlined Can they share the air? Get it?
fluffyducks friend
November 13th 2008
Horseshoe is for recreation *NOT* aviation
November 13th 2008
I don
Ghost who walks
November 30th 2008
Dear fluffyduck from what i heard only 7 people ( secret 7 )and a fluffy duck and a friend of fluffies
didn't want the Red Baron. 500 people did want Red Baron. Red Baron wins "GO THE RED BARON"
December 1st 2008
Ghost that walks - is this what "The Phantom" becomes when he

What do you think? Send us your comments.

Readers comments
FROM cp_articles
[ read more ]
The poll
Should Magnetic Island commission a sculpture to celebrate the achievements of Julian Assange?
98%       2%
Great idea No thanks

Cypress created this page in 0.05 seconds