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Airnorth pilot makes history with first flight to his old home town

written by Lenn Bayliss | March 15, 2016

Lenn.Bayliss. 14 March 16. Brisbane West Wellcamp airport. Captin Dean Ham. GM Flight Operations
For Victorian born and bred Captain Dean Ham of Air North, the inaugural afternoon flight to Melbourne marked his first return to Melbourne in 18 years. Leaving Melbourne with 750 hours in his log book his return is as the general manager flight operations for Airnorth with over 10,000 hours logged including over 5,000 on the Embraer 170. As Dean remarked ‘I left Melbourne in a Piper warrior and have returned in an Embraer 170!’ (Lenn Bayliss)

It was a proud moment for Darwin pilot Dean Ham as he landed the first passenger jet from the Northern Territory at Australia’s newest airport in Toowoomba, South-East Queensland, on Friday.

The historic Airnorth flight preceded the start of direct services from Toowoomba to Melbourne on Monday and Toowoomba to Cairns services on Tuesday.

Melbourne becomes the 25th destination for Airnorth and the first foray into southern Australia.

It also marks a return home for Dean, who packed his bags in Melbourne, nearly 20 years ago, as a 22 year old and headed north to Darwin in search of a career in aviation.

The fledgling pilot started out in aircraft cleaning and ramp operations before transitioning into flying roles and then working his way up the Airnorth ranks over the past 18 years.


Today, Dean is Airnorth’s general manager flight operations (head of flying operations) leading a team of 70 professional pilots in the company’s 270-strong workforce.

“It has been an amazing experience to see the company expand right across Northern Australia and now to be part of the first flight into Victoria,” Dean said.

“Airnorth has always looked after its people. It likes to recruit locally and give its employees the chance to grow.”

Dean was joined on the inaugural flight to Melbourne by Airnorth CEO Daniel Bowden and more than 40 passengers and guests, including four new cabin crew employed out of Toowoomba.

“This is an important milestone for our business and for regional Australia,” Bowden said.

“As Australia’s second longest operating airline, we know that quality air services are critical for building communities and bringing them closer to domestic and international markets.

Lenn Bayliss.Air North to Melbourne.14 Mar 16_edited-1 copy
VH-ANT departs Wellcamp for Melbourne on Monday. (Lenn Bayliss)

Airnorth will operate seven weekly return flights to Melbourne and three weekly flights to Cairns from Toowoomba’s new Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport.

Extended codeshare arrangements with Qantas will give passengers access to a range of benefits including bookings via the Qantas website and access to frequent flyer rewards.

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Comments (22)

  • Errol Johnson


    Congratulations on your achievement Dean, all the best for your future in the job you love

  • Cheryl & David


    Congratulations Dean. Well done.. We are proud of you. Mum and Dad Terang Victoria 3264

  • Rachel Pratt


    Congrats Dean – what an amazing milestone !

    You are a great pilot and an asset Air North certainly appreciates your experience and attitude !!

    Well done again, Rachel ?✈️?

  • M.A.M


    I absolutely loved working with airnorth! Yes they do look after their crew! It was like family & im sure it still is!!! I Met some amazing individuals who are still great friends now, if I ever moved back I’d definitely beg for my job back! TOGETHER WE FLY!!!
    (Congrats captain ham, give habiby & the crew a big squeeze for me)

  • Neil


    Good one Deano. That is really cool.

  • Rob Hall


    Congratulations, dean. Going from strength to strength!
    -Rob Hall

  • Benji


    What a lovely good news story! Well done mate – glad to see you persevered and made a great career for yourself up in the NT. It’s tough up there…

  • anne whiting


    Congratulations Dean. You deserve all the rewards that come your way. You have worked very hard to achieve your distinguished career.

  • Chris and Max Medwell


    Congratulations Dean on such an achievement. Wishing you our very best wishes for a successful continuing career.
    Love the Medwells xx

  • Jeanette Eller


    Congratulations Dean.

  • Mary - Claire King


    awesome news Dean. massive achievement and a huge future. Congratulations to you and Airnorth, going strength to strength. Cheers MCK

  • Doug Ingram


    A Great Achievement Dean
    And many more ahead I have no doubt; Cheers-Doug

  • Gabriella Baker


    Congrats to you Dean, and the rest of the Airnorth crew.

  • Megan


    Congratulations Dean and congratulations to the pioneers of Air North to have the vision and the tenacity to see this airline rise its status to where it is today! I congratulate you all and how proud are you Dean to be part of that, well done!!! I remember being one of the “crash test dummy’s” on the Embraer’s first official flight to Broome for CASA qualification, what a hoot but what a magnificent plane! Hears cheers to Air North!

  • Rod Shephard


    Congratulations Dean-every pilots dream…
    A fabulous story and may the dream continue. for many years to come…
    Best wishes

  • MoCo


    Fantastic Article, Melbourne Must of changed in those 18 years that you haven’t been there Dean. Does It still feel like home? Congratulations to Airnorth for their continual growth around Australia! What out QANTAS we’re coming for you!! and in the words of Captain Dean Ham “Thank you for flying Airnorth”

  • Anne and Kell lawrence


    Congratulations from us both. The late Ethel and Jack would be so proud that all off your hard work has led to this.

  • Lawrance and Heather Timpson


    Congratulations Dean, what a great achievement. I know how proud your parents must feel.

  • Andrew and Lyn Kernick


    A great article about a great bloke, Dean. We remember when you first arrived in Darwin as a quiet young man, who patiently persevered through all the tarmac work, to eventually flying around the Top End, to now, Captain Ham, general manager flight operations for Air North. A wonderful humble man, with a supportive wife, Maree and children, Hannah and Jacob. Your attitude of quietly working towards your goals, persevering through the tough times, has made you a very caring and understanding leader. Well done Dean.. Congratulations and lots of love. Lyn and Andrew Kernick

  • Evan & Margaret Carr


    Congratulations Dean on your great achievement. . I would like to reiterate what the Kernicks say, I couldn’t say it better.. I also remember when you went to Darwin. and I think you despaired at ever flying but your patience has stood the test. May God bless you as you continue in your chosen career. Love Aunty Margaret & Uncle Evan

  • John Phillips


    Nice tail paint on Air North.

    Remind anyone of Ansett at all?

    And congratulations to Dean as well.

  • Damon


    Congratulations, mate! Leaving in a Warrior and returning in an EMB 170… awesome!

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