Vale – Terry Mulholland (1935 - 2013)



Terrence Gerald (Terry) Mulholland was born at Maffra in eastern Victoria on 24 June 1935.  His parents were John Faris Mulholland and Reva Mulholland (nee Trebilcock). Terry had one sibling; his sister Reva.  Terry was educated at Camberwell Grammar School in Mont Albert Road Canterbury.  He entered the Royal Australian Airforce at the age of 16 years in the initial Junior Equipment and Administrative Training Scheme course. The course commenced in early January 1952 at RAAF Base Rathmines as Detachment C of the RAAF Technical College at Wagga Wagga. (Located at Lake Macquarie on the New South Wales Central Coast, RAAF Rathmines operated as a seaplane base between 1939 and 1952 and eventually closed in 1961.) At the completion of his course Terry had qualified as an aircraft instrument fitter and electronics technician.


In 1958, Terry married Valerie Toogood, a nurse and together they raised three children: John, Stephen and Judith.  After some years Terry and Val went their separate ways.  In 1982 Terry married Margaret who already had three children: Sallie, Lynda and Robert.  (Margaret’s son Rob Spry was a commercial pilot and flying instructor who flew with Nat Map in 1988.  On 7 November 1992, Rob was tragically killed when the Pitts Special aircraft (VH-SZA) in which he was a passenger crashed near Clyde to the east of Melbourne.)


Terry was appointed as a Technical Officer Grade 1 (Fourth Division) with Nat Map on 12 October 1967. Initially he worked with Uncle Norm Hawker and Rom Vassil on the Johnson Ground Elevation Meter - at the time a world leading ground height measuring system mounted in a four wheel drive, four wheel steer General Motors Corporation van. Later, Terry joined fellow technicians John Ely and Mick Skinner in the Division’s electronic workshop.  Here Terry worked initially on the Aerodist microwave based airborne distance measuring system both in the office and in the field.  His Aerodist field work included stints in remote areas of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.  By the early 1970s, he also worked on the WREMAPS 1 airborne laser terrain profiling system both in the office and in the field.



The Nat Map Electronics Workshop in the Rialto building circa 1971 –

(L-R) John Ely (back to camera), Oz Ertok (half obscured) and Terry (centre).


Terry spent the summer of 1973-74 in Antarctica as a member of an Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition with fellow Nat Mappers John Manning, Andrew Turk and Geoff Wood.  Here he flew as a camera crew member with pilot Errol Driver in Forrester Stephen’s Pilatus Porter fixed-wing aircraft VH-FSB as well as in Hughes 500 helicopters provided by Jayrow Helicopters. 


Sometime during this busy period in his life Terry learned to fly and eventually qualified as a commercial pilot and flying instructor.  He instructed at several flying schools near Melbourne and spent quite a few weekends at Coldstream and Berwick.  He was the acting Chief Flying Instructor at Berwick at one time.  In the late 1970s, Errol Driver was the supervising pilot when Terry and other Nat Map pilots went for endorsement on Nat Map’s Nomad turbo prop aircraft.  One Nomad endorsement Errol did with Terry involved a low speed, steep angle beta approach at Alice Springs in 1978.


Terry was quite adept with his clarinet and had a repertoire that included Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the Shore and Sydney Bechet’s Petite Fleur.  Terry’s music was often a source of enjoyment for Nat Map field party members who appreciated a good rendition of a nice tune.  Unfortunately this was not always all party members and also at times Terry’s choice of venue yielded mixed results.  His clarinet solos were well received by all comers at the Bedourie Hotel in 1970 but in 1974 the manager of a Ceduna caravan park was less impressed and asked Terry and his fellow Nat Mappers to leave.



Terry operating Aerodist remote equipment in the Bedourie area 1969


In his early flying days Terry would take fellow Nat Mappers on long distance flights to help build up his flying hours.  In the mid 1970s, one trip was in a Cessna from Moorabbin to Broken Hill for the St Patrick’s Day race meeting.  His passengers were Michael Lloyd, Hayden Reynolds, Steve Pinwill and Bill Forster.  It was a good trip but sadly no one had considered accommodation booking during a big racing meeting.  With no rooms available and after unsuccessfully trying to bunk down under the stairs in a hotel foyer, they spent the cold and uncomfortable night in the aircraft cabin.


Soon after Nat Map took delivery of its Nomad aircraft in July 1976, Terry had the foresight to see the advantage for Nat Map in employing its own pilots and having other aircraft to carrying out airborne operations that included map inspections and aerial photography as well as laser terrain profiling work.  With drive and enthusiasm, Terry pursued his vision with Nat Map management and eventually secured the position of Chief Pilot in early 1978.  In this position Terry recruited pilots Harry Baker, Peter Prior and Jock Head and was instrumental in expanding Nat Map’s fleet of aircraft to best meet operational needs.


Terry held the position of Nat Map Chief Pilot until October 1988.  Terry then left the organisation after some 23 years of diligent service.  He took up flying instructing again and spent some years as the Chief Flying Instructor at the Tasmanian Aero Club in Launceston.  Around this time he also flew charter and freight work.


The Tasmanian Government suggested Terry organise an air show to help bring aviation enthusiasts to Tasmania for a weekend.  Terry thought Reno Pylon Racing would draw greater interest and the Government funded the idea after Terry visited Reno Air Races and brought back the FAA rules for racing.  He then rewrote the rules to comply with CASA regulations.  Much to the amazement of the Australian aviation industry his rules were accepted and the first ever Australian Pylon Air Racing event was held at Valleyfield in Central Tasmania in 1994.


Shortly after the first air racing event Terry and his wife Margaret started a general aviation business at Devonport Airport.  It grew quickly and a second operation was opened at Launceston Airport.  Bass Flight Services offered pilot training to commercial standard, scenic flights over the wilderness areas, night freight and business charter.


Terry had a fascination with flying boats and seaplanes.  In 1996, he started Tasmanian Seaplanes operating out of Wrest Point Casino and Port Arthur with two Maule M7 single engine float planes (VH-DRI and VH-DRE).  The Maules took tourists on scenic flights to Tasmania’s South West Wilderness, Heritage Lakes, Derwent Valley, Huon River and the Tasman Peninsular.


Bass Flight Services was sold in 1998 but Terry and Margaret continued to operate Tasmanian Seaplanes until 2003.  This was quite a thriving enterprise but eventually the economic climate impacted and the business was discontinued.  Terry then spent a few years living in Hobart.  In April 2011, Terry moved to Kyabram to be closer to his family.


At Kyabram, one notable joy for Terry was his poodle Reuben that daughter Judith had found for him.  Following a vehicle accident on the Girgarre-Stanhope road in early December 2011 Reuben went missing and Terry and his family were overwhelmed by the kind efforts that the local community went to in helping find the missing canine.  Fortunately through this community kindness Terry and Reuben were soon reunited and were inseparable until the end.


Terry had been receiving treatment for cancer in recent years but seemed in good spirits when Harry Baker spoke with him by telephone on 31 May 2013.  Terry was then about to visit his local doctor to get something for his bad cough.  Typically, Terry was concerned that his cough was disturbing Reuben during the night.  The cough must have been worse than Terry realised as he was admitted to Kyabram Hospital.  Sadly around 7 o’clock on the evening of 1 June 2013, Terry suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed to a severe haemorrhage and died at age 77 years.  Terry was survived by his wife Margaret and his children John, Stephen and Judith as well as Valerie who remained a friend.


Terry was buried at Kyabram Cemetery on 6 June 2013.  Former Nat Map pilot Harry Baker read a eulogy and fellow Nat Mappers John Ely, Michael Lloyd and Graeme Lawrence were among the mourners as was Errol Driver who flown had with Terry.


Terry sometimes had moments of reflection, perhaps even sadness where he tended to withdraw into himself.  But he also had a great sense of humour and was always able to play the clown and be the life of the party.  He was always an enthusiastic pilot who loved flying.  Terry was endorsed to fly 23 different aircraft types.  Despite eight engine failures and numerous forced landings he flew safely for many years and had a total of about 12,500 flying hours with no accidents which was a significant achievement.  For his many Nat Map friends Terry will be sadly missed but fondly remembered as a good colleague and a thoughtful and kindly man who rarely said an unkind word.  




Terry circa 1969 and 1984 at Nat Map and his bronze bust commissioned by son John


Thanks to Laurie McLean and Harry Baker for helping to compile Terry’s story (with input from Margaret Mulholland, Con Veenstra, John Ely, Michael Lloyd and Dave Abreu) and thanks also to Harry Baker, Lawrie O’Connor, Alan Scott and Oz Ertok for the photos of Terry (quality due to enlarging smaller images). Memorial Booklet courtesy of Mulholland Family.  




Jock Head: Terry was the most unassuming, generous and helpful colleague I ever had the privilege to work with.


John Manning: Vale TGM, sleep in peace - you leave many memories.


Condolences also from:


Dave Abreu

Harry Baker

OJ (Bob) Bobroff

Ed Burke

John Ely

Reg Helmore

Russ Hughes

Frank Johnston

Syd Kirkby

Graeme Lawrence

Mick Lloyd

Rod Menzies

Laurie McLean

Carl McMaster

Joe & Vicki McRae

Blythe Osborne

Bruce O’Connor

Lawrie O’Connor

Steve Pinwill

Murray Porteous

Bob Smith

Kalen Sargeant

Bill Stuchbery

Andrew Turk

Con Veenstra

Paul Wise