2nd September 1922 – 2nd November 2002
Engineer ANA and Ansett – 1938 to 1983
(Kevin started with ANA in 1938, working in the instrument shop at Essendon)
Because of his generous personality and rare sense of humour – (many people could say the same), I always felt that our friendship was something special even though I am aware that it was mainly his charm that made it seem so special.
Kevin was, without doubt, the most unselfish man I have ever known. He always had time to listen to other people's problems and to offer them support, but not many were ever aware when he had problems, though he certainly had his share.
Kevin took a genuine interest in everyone around him.
I will especially miss the surprise phone calls –
"McCabe here, there's something on ABC about aircraft that I think will interest you", and similar curt messages.
When Kevin visited he always managed to have a book or magazine with him on a subject that he knew would be of interest and I am sure that many others would be familiar with the inscription in his books:
"Kindly loaned from the McCabe Collection"
Without exception, Kevin honoured his commitments to family and to his employers with the same effort and dedication.
As far as his lifelong association with the airline industry is concerned I am qualified to make this judgement, having known him for much of his 45 years' service.
It is significant to note that Kevin formed lifelong friendships with all four of the managers he worked for, due I believe to his rare appreciation of the difficulties they faced in meeting their responsibilities.
Kevin was originally employed by the Holyman owned Australian National Airways and over the years has maintained contact with the Holyman family through correspondence.
Kevin was mentioned by name in a recent publication by Ian Holyman covering the history of ANA, where Kevin was originally employed, and was sent a copy of the book together with a personal note of thanks for his contribution.
In the early days of Ansett ANA, Kevin was transferred to Perth from Launceston on what I understand was a temporary transfer but which, thankfully for us, became permanent. He settled into the job of supervising the turn round of the relatively few Ansett/ANA aircraft arrivals at Perth Airport.
However, at the beginning of 1970, with the takeover of MMA, Kevin was suddenly placed in the impossible position of supervising multiple movements of totally unfamiliar MMA aircraft, of which he had no experience.
For a while, due to lingering resentment following the takeover, he received little sympathy for his predicament, but in spite of the difficulty forced upon him, he managed with his typical honest charm and good humour, to win over everyone at Perth, including the Maintenance Superintendent who became another of his lifelong friends. That he suffered the indignity of that situation and eventually overcame it, is a measure of the man, and one of the many reasons contributing to my admiration of him and his attitude to life and its problems.
Kevin was totally loyal to Ansett, and when, long after his retirement the company collapsed, I knew that he felt its failure deeply. Hopefully I was helpful to him in coming to terms with such a disastrous event.
I have never met anyone quite like Kevin McCabe and I do not expect to do so.
I would love to hear the PUT PUT PUT of his combi van heralding another visit but I know that will never happen.
However, I am very thankful just to have enjoyed his friendship and confidence over so many years.
For me, Kevin really was a very special friend.
Written by Arthur Taylor who was Maintenance Manager at Perth Airport from 1947 to1994.
For some very interesting stories written by Kevin McCabe during his time with ANA and Ansett go to Ansett Anecdotes