Uiver historian Noel Jackling received the surprise of his life when Dutch ambassador Erica Schouten named him a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau.
The amateur historian received one of the Netherlands highest honours for his work championing the Uiver story and preserving and extending Albury’s Uiver Collection.
“I feel extraordinary, it was a total surprise, everyone has been wonderful keeping the secret,” Mr Jackling said.
“I’m deeply honoured.”
Mr Jackling said he first became fascinated with the tale of the Uiver’s landing through his father’s friend ABC 2CO announcer Arthur Newnham who called for cars to illuminate a makeshift airstrip to help the plane land in 1934.
Mr Newnham later appointed Mr Jackling as his lawyer.
A newly-knighted Mr Jackling thanked his family for “putting up with him” and his stories of the Uiver, as well as the many friends and Dutch aviation experts who assisted in his work.
“The Uiver story lives on not only in this collection and the restoration of the plane but it lives on in people,” he said.
Mrs Schouten said the bond between Albury and the Netherlands remained strong, as shown by Mr Jackling’s determination to keep the Uiver story alive.
“The story speaks to so many people, a story of bravery, adventure and risk … it has a very appealing factory to many people,” she said.
“Over the years he has put in so much work to maintain this collection and to expand it and also to tell the story.”
Alfred Waugh, who was Albury mayor at the time of the landing, was also honoured with an Order of Orange-Nassau.
While visiting the region, Mrs Schouten also toured the restoration of the replica Uiver at Albury airport.
Chair of Uiver Memorial Community Trust Pieter Mol said the ambassador’s visit was a “major coup” which showed there was wide support for the project.
Mr Mol said it was too early to know when the restoration would be complete.
“It’s very much a long-term project but we’ve made some significant progress over the years thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers,” he said.
“Today is really recognition of a huge project that happened because of a lot of community and council support.”
Mr Mol said the group has a pool of about 50 volunteers and funding was becoming an issue last year, but a donation ensured they had the funds to purchase new tools and parts.
“Even after 84 years there is still interest in the event and the ties continue between the people of Holland and the city of Albury,” he said.