An ugly split between members of the Illawarra-based Historical Aircraft Restoration Society has been revealed in a national aviation magazine.
HARS, which has more than 450 members, is based at Illawarra Regional Airport and its volunteers conduct the popular Wings Over Illawarra event with Shellharbour City Council, which draws thousands to the region each year.
The editorial, written by HARS member Stewart Wilson, appeared in the aviation magazine Aero Australia, which went on sale across Australia and New Zealand yesterday.
HARS president Bob De La Hunty said the organisation was seeking legal advice on the article.
"HARS lawyers have been made aware of the matter and that is all we are prepared to say at this stage," Mr De La Hunty said.
Under the headline "Kicked out of HARS?" Mr Wilson wrote that he and his wife, Wendy, had decided to take a stand because of what they considered to be a "cavalier" attitude to "the HARS constitution, the conduct of general meetings and so on".
"Technically, the reason for this is our refusal to sign what we and others regard as an inappropriate and unacceptable code of conduct ... we refused because we believe it was illegal," Mr Wilson wrote.
"Our story is just part of a much bigger picture and I'm sure it's at least in part due to our association with the others whom HARS also wants to see the back of," he claimed.
Mr Wilson wrote that a number of allegations had been made - not by him.
"These [involve] impropriety in areas such as financial reporting, record keeping, administration and legislative compliance," he wrote.
"It is important to note that none of these allegations have been proven yet."
According to Mr Wilson, one of the allegations - involving the falsification of documents by forging a former committee member's signature - has been investigated by the Department of Fair Trading and was to be referred to NSW Police.
A NSW Fair Trading spokesman said Fair Trading had received several complaints about the operations of the association.
"Fair Trading has raised some issues with the association's committee, where a possible breach of the legislation has been identified. The investigation is ongoing in relation to several of these issues."
Lake Illawarra police said they had been informed of allegations, but were not investigating the matter at this stage.
Mr Wilson told the Mercury yesterday that HARS was trying to expel about 10 members from the society.