INVENTOR AND AVIATOR: A farewell is being held for Ballina Hughes Engineering CEO Howard Hughes.
INVENTOR AND AVIATOR: A farewell is being held for Ballina Hughes Engineering CEO Howard Hughes. Marc Stapelberg

Final flight for Ballina inventor Howard Hughes

BALLINA high flyer, inventor and businesses man Howard Ross Hughes will be farewelled by family and friends at a tribute function in Ballina from 2pm tomorrow (Friday).

Mr Hughes died peacefully at home on April 15, aged 67, with his wife Jenny by his side.

He was the much loved father of Leena, Nicholas and Shelly and the loved and admired father-in-law to Paul Green and Dan Brown. He was also the adored grandfather to Jacqulin, Lillian, Robert and Felix.

Mr Hughes founded his company Howard Hughes Engineering in West Ballina in the mid-1970s as a boat building and general engineering business.

In 1985 the company expanded into aircraft design.

Its first aircraft design, the Australian LightWing GR532, was accepted by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority on September 29, 1986.

Since 2010, Hughes Engineering has been developing a state of the art flight training simulator.

Mr Hughes helped to instil a love of flying in younger generations by taking school students on tours of his aircraft design businesses.

He was extremely proud of the accomplishments of his former students, including one who went on to co-pilot the first Virgin jet to land at the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport.

Mr Hughes also dedicated three years of his life to designing an affordable six-seater kit plane, in a bid to make flying more accessible for families.

One of his passion projects was an environmentally friendly three-wheeled, two-seater, solar and battery powered all-electric car.

Hughes’s company website talks about the “wonderful environment” that surrounded the business in its early days on Smith Drive.

“The neighbourliness that existed at Smith Drive was astounding, fun and joyous,” it says. “Our kids grew up in this wonderful environment of work and play intermingled and totally blurred in the overlap.”



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