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Regional airline pioneer Jim Hazelton dies at 83

written by australianaviation.com.au | June 13, 2014

Jim Hazelton in later years. (via The Macleay Argus)
Jim Hazelton in later years. (via The Macleay Argus)

James David (Jim) Hazelton died on June 10 at his Turners Flat home in northern NSW after a long battle with illness. He was 10 days short of his 83rd birthday. Family members and Jim’s wife Pam were by his side when he died.

A modest person, Jim was and one of the greatest aviators and gifted pilots this country has seen. There are few people in the aviation community that have not known of him and the many achievements and contributions he made to general aviation.

He imparted knowledge upon all who had the privilege to sit next to the master, and there were many. He was unselfish with his time and went out of his way to help others with the art of flying aircraft, often to his own detriment.

There is probably no stronger aviation name than Hazelton in Australia. Many of the Hazeltons fly aircraft and Jim’s sons both work in the sector painting aircraft.

Jim started flying at a young age and was a founder of Hazelton Airlines, which he started with his brother Max at Orange before leaving that business to form and develop Navair, where literally hundreds of Australian airman and women were trained.


He was a pioneer of crop dusting in Australia and then went on to ferry aircraft all over the world. Unlike many of his competitors in the ferry game, Jim never lost a plane and always completed the ferry task. He was one of the first to cross the Pacific in a single engine aircraft and had done so well over 200 times.

In recent times Jim bought a Catalina float plane to Australia from Portugal and dropped by Port Macquarie to the entertainment of locals before going on to Sydney. His last ferry flight was conducted just months ago.

It would be remiss not to mention Jim’s beloved wife Pam, who put up with his obsession and allowed him to be away so much following his pursuit of flying. Jim would always ring her daily to let her know of his arrival at various ports and forward plans. Meanwhile, Pam would take inquiries regarding the next possible ferry flight.

Jim was incredibly quiet about his achievements, but was known not only in Australia but all over the world. He had many friends in the places he would visit from time to time while carrying out the ferry task. No one knows the exact hours Jim logged over his career, but many believe it would have been in excess of 50,000 hours.

Jim is survived by seven of eight children and several grandchildren – Jim’s son Martin, also an accomplished aviator, died some time ago.

By family friend Grant Burley


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Comments (6)

  • grant burley


    I was so fortunate to have flown around 500 hours with Jim in Australia and all over the world. We flew across the north sea, the Swiss alps and many times across the Pacific or as he would call it `the big pond`.

    He taught me the art of ferry flight and what he knew you wouldn`t find in a book . He never ceased to amaze me as to his knowledge of weather , winds and so many things. Each flight was like an aviation history lesson and I soaked it all in.

    We had some fantastic times and one of the best times was when we flew my Cheyenne 400 back from the USA . We hit 450 kts across Australia and he grinned all the way , ringing his mates to tell them how fast we were going.
    Jim, thankyou for sharing your passion with me and so many others , aviation has lost a great pilot and advocate.
    Grant Burley

  • Geoff Tozer


    I first started flying with Jim Hazelton at Navair in 1970 – 1971. As a young lad who had yet to leave High School he was a great mentor. Jim took his students and clients as they came (accepted our individuality) and tailored our training likewise. I learnt a lot about flying Cessna’s from Max his brother and I learnt a lot about airmanship and surviving in twins during asymmetric situations with Jim. Jim did not seem to judge people he just accepted them as the package they were and catered to their needs generously. We must not forget his family and especially his loving wife Pam. Not only was your flying training catered for but also you as a person. Jim and Pam would often extend an invitation to stay overnight at their fly in out property near Wedderburn NSW in the 1970’s. I had a stressful time at home nursing a family member and they provided some respite by extending their hospitality to me. The Hazelton children treated my like one of the extended family in a very caring environment. The other thing about Jim was he always saw outside the circle. One day I had an incident and Jim’s response to what I told him was ” Well there are those who have had and those who are going to have – welcome to the club my boy.” No judgement but an acceptance of the fact and assurance that it was would be all sorted.
    Over the years I stayed in touch with all of them but mostly Jim and Pam. For all of us who were involved with these people may we extend much love and support to them at this time.

  • Bob Livingstone


    I worked in BK Tower for 20 years and must have spoken to Jim thousands of times on the radio. I well remember one day Jim took off Rwy29 in a C-210 when a problem developed. Jim did a tight turn around the tower and I was looking DOWN on him. By the time he reversed direction he had sorted the engine problem and flew away. Cool as a cucumber. There was no paperwork.

  • M.O'Grady


    Tribute to Jim 26th June, Port Macquarie.
    Venue: Tacking Point Surf Life Saving Club
    Address: Matthew Flinders Drive, Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie
    Club contact details: [email protected]
    Time: 11 am to 4 pm

    There will be a fly past (weather permitting), a photograph display and some old movies.
    Stories about Jim are welcome by all. If you have photographs or any stories please can you bring them or email a copy as these will contribute to the yet untold story about the life of this remarkable Australian Aviator in the form of a book.

    If you have any questions please contact Jillian (0419-741679)or Wendy Hazelton(0405-104039)
    RSVP; [email protected]

  • Will Hagon


    Going a long way back in Jim Hazelton’s distinguished career (and passion), I first heard of him in the days of Geoff Sykes who ran the motor racing at Warwick Farm. Geoff was keen on flying, telling me that only planes and motorcycles were in balance when cornering (because they bank). So his Club and company, both AARC had two small aircraft, encouraging members to fly. What also happened in the wonderful days of the Tasman Series in Australia and NZ was that the visiting international drivers relaxed with surfing and some, with flying., Which is where the late Mr Hazelton comes in. I know he taught Jackie Stewart to fly and some others, although I don’t have their names. Possibly Jim Clark but I’ll investigate and try to be more specific with names.

    Thank you Grant Burley, both for what you wrote about Jim but also for having him at your most recent fly-in, where, finally, I had the thrill of meeting the legendary guy. It was a delight to meet him and chat.

  • Brian Richard Allen


    Vale Jim Hazelton. Love you like a Brother.: Thank you for your life.
    And thank you – dear Pam – for Wedderburn Nights.

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