R-Mach Aviation's Richard McDonald and Peter McDonald.
R-Mach Aviation's Richard McDonald and Peter McDonald. Allan Reinikka ROK101218aairmen1

Dancer's love letter to fire fighting heroes

"WORDS cannot describe how much of an incredibly proud daughter and sister I am," begins Grace McDonald's December 1 Facebook post.

"You continue to always amaze me. You are heroes."

Grace was responding to a post about her family's water bombing hailing their "sheer tenacity, accuracy and dedication" during the recent fire scare.

Her father Richard, mother Susie, brother Richard, as well as a ground crewman named Ash co-ordinated several days' supply of water alongside the crews working on the ground to beat back the flames.

"Listening to Peter on the radio, being absolutely determined to save houses when everyone else thought they were lost was just astounding," the post said.

 

Susie and Grace McDonald at the Australian Performance dance Institute graduation in Brisbane
Susie and Grace McDonald at the Australian Performance dance Institute graduation in Brisbane contributed

Richard and Susie, who have six children aged 13 to 27, moved to the area 14 years ago to take up an aerial operations business.

"We do spraying and spreading of fertiliser and herbicide," Mr McDonald said.

"We're keeping the mosquito population quiet for the people of Rockhampton."

Mr McDonald's father and two brothers as well as two of his children are pilots.

But two of his girls have developed a passion for the performing arts.

 

R-Mach Aviation's Richard McDonald and Peter McDonald.
R-Mach Aviation's Richard McDonald and Peter McDonald. Allan Reinikka ROK101218aairmen2

Mrs McDonald recently travelled to Brisbane for Grace's graduation from the Australian Dance Performance Institute.

Next year, Grace is hoping to land a career training a cheer squad for a professional rugby league team in Sydney.

"I take my hat off to her dedication," Mr McDonald said of his daughter.

"It's a tough industry and you have to stick at it to be successful so I'm absolutely as proud of her as can be."

The McDonalds' next challenge is calling on the federal government to fund the purchase of a Russian-built fire-fighting aircraft.

They recently visited Russia to inspect the Beriev amphibious aircraft which can scoop up 12,000 litres from rivers or the sea in 14 seconds.

"In terms of firefighting, this machine would cut down our load-and-dump time from about once an hour to every three minutes," Mr McDonald said.

And as for the hero tag, he says "I'd rather be in the sky than on the ground."



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