Get well messages for injured pilot
WELL wishes and messages of support have flooded in for popular Ballina pilot Ian Byrne after it was revealed his ultra-light plane had crashed on Monday morning, leaving him in a critical condition.
On Monday afternoon, the Gold Coast University Hospital confirmed Mr Byrne was in a critical but stable condition in the intensive care ward, however a spokesman for the hospital said the family has since requested his condition remain a private matter.
Retired Ballina High School principal Roslyn Mayberry, who taught with Mr Byrne at Ballina High School, said he was a highly respected teacher.
"The shock of Ian's crash and injuries has just been enormous," she said.
"The whole Ballina community is hoping and praying that he has a speedy recovery."
Ms Mayberry said Mr Byrne's work to bring an aviation course to Ballina High students, together with Brian Cartwright, was an enormous achievement.
The pair successfully planned an aeronautics technology course, which was approved by the New South Wales Board of Studies, making them the only teachers in the country offering aeronautics at a secondary school.
He also managed to convince the Department of Education and Training to approve flight training as part of the teaching program, resulting in 36 students completing more than 300 hours in the Lightwing Flying Academy plane.
In 1992, Mr Byrne began building the school plane, an Australian Lightwing GR 912 kit, with the Year 9 and 10 students of the course, which would eventually be used for flight practice.
Two of his students wrote a software package for basic aeronautical knowledge, which was publicised in the journal Gifted.
Several of his students went on to have highly successful aviation careers.
Ms Mayberry said there was no doubt Mr Byrne's aviation course gave his students an edge in gaining aviation-related employment and training.
As well as introducing and running an aeronautics course at Ballina High School, Mr Byrne was also a long-time serving officer at the 41st Battalion Army Reserves in Lismore and rose to the rank of commanding officer.
Community members have also spoken highly about Mr Byrne's time as a teacher at Lismore High School and as a Ballina Surf Club member.