Pilot, administrator and innovator of Australian aviation George Alfred ‘Peter’ Lloyd has died, aged 101. He passed away on Tuesday at his home at St Georges Basin, on the NSW south coast.
Lloyd had a long and distinguished career in the service of aviation and his country. As Flight Safety Australia said, marking his 100th birthday in 2020, Australian pilots, aircrew and passengers owe him a debt that most are unaware of. He oversaw and promoted the growth of general and sport aviation after World War II and later helped found the Safeskies conference, a biennial gathering of pilots, engineers, experts and managers which has evolved into an agenda-defining event.
As a soldier in World War II, he served in the Middle East and the south-west Pacific and was mentioned in dispatches (MiD). He learnt to fly in 1955 and accumulated 11,000 hours while also serving as president of the Royal Aero Club of NSW. For 12 years he was also president of the Federation of Australian Aero Clubs, increasing membership from 8 to 82 clubs, and encouraging the development of other aviation sports including gliding, ballooning, parachuting, hang-gliding and model aircraft. He later became president of the Federation Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and, in this capacity, assisted with the repatriation of teenage pilot Mathias Rust, who flew a Cessna 172 from Finland, to Red Square, Moscow, in 1987.
Lloyd was a highly accomplished and respected businessman, who was the founding chairman of directors of Helicopter Utilities Limited, which operated up to 118 helicopters in Australia and other countries, including Korea, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. His work did much to have the usefulness of helicopters recognised in rural Australia. An automotive business in which he was involved at one time, ran a fleet of 600 vehicles.
For 14 years he served as an honorary director of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Among his many awards were an Order of the British Empire (OBE), Officer of the Order of Australia and Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). He was twice awarded Australian aviation’s highest honour, the Oswald Watt Gold Medal.
In recent years blindness prevented him from flying, but he remained physically and mentally active up to and beyond his centenary, which he marked with a tandem parachute jump. He also maintained an intense and analytical interest in aviation and had planned to attend the resurgent post-lockdown Safeskies conference in Canberra on 20–22 September. Conference organisers said his presence would instead be fondly remembered and sorely missed.