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