Aviator and collector who took East Timorese plight to heart

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 19th May, 2015

A single engine Navion Rangemaster that, stuffed with hospital equipment, in 2000 flew an emergency aid mission to Dili in East Timor after the retreating Indonesian Army had stripped and ransacked homes and hospitals will be auctioned from 11am Sunday May 31 by auctioneer Phil Caldwell as part of a much bigger diverse and eccentric collection at 239 Wickham Road, Moorabbin.

The aircraft is owned by Victor (Vic) Kaye, who has been concerned with the plight of the East Timorese ever since the Indonesians invaded the country on December 7, 1975 – the day after the then United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger flew out of the capital Dili.

Now 78, Vic’s affection for the people began in 1956 as a member of an Australian commando company – where he learnt about the history of World War II independent commando units and how the East Timorese saved them from the Japanese.

After East Timor was granted independence in 1999, the Indonesian Army ransacked hospitals and stripped and burnt homes before departing.

A former Ansett Airlines pilot, Vic (who had helped the East Timorese in the past from his Maldon home) was then able to deliver urgently required medical supplies, flying the Navion Rangemaster solo to Dili – before giving then Brigadier-General (now President) Tuar Matan Ruak a bird’s eye view of his homeland, a first for the leader after 24 years of jungle fighting for independence.

In Vic’s words, “it’s time to get rid of the clutter”, so Royal Doulton, model steam engines, tinplate toys and a 1937 2025 Rolls Royce Windover bodied are going under the hammer.

Flying and helping the East Timorese isn’t Vic’s only passion. Since 1967, he has been collector of Royal Doulton pieces – and in 1991 opened Federation Fine Art Galleries in a beautiful 1902 Federation home (once owned by the Thompsons Foundry manager) at Castlemaine.

Another great love is classic cars. In 1971, he became the Australian distributor for Morgan sports cars – a position he held for 30 years.

As a result of this interest, he was approached during the 1970s to head to England to talk to a man interested in exporting second hand sports cars to Australia.

“The proposition wasn’t viable but we hit it off and kept in touch,” Vic said.

As a result, some years later the man sent him a black and white photo of the Rolls Royce, which he subsequently bought.

The car has separate compartment for the chauffeur driver and the back seat can be completely curtained off for privacy.

Over the years, Vic purchased several other classic cars from his London colleague – all in mint condition.

Model steam, electric and clockwork locomotives – one about one-third the size of the original commercial version – are another great interest and there will be several of various gauges in the auction, along with a traction engine strong enough to pull two or three people.

Models include a 1946 Robilt from Melbourne with a 1960s ‘O’ gauge, a Japanese live steam Astor gauge ‘1’, a German Marklin, a scale live steam United States Accucraft and steam, clockwork and electric English Hornby in gauges ‘OO’ to ‘3½’.


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