In search of vintage props, such as the Douglas DC-3, the search started in Cairns,Queensland and ended in Melbourne, Victoria. Along the way I visited many museums and for the sake of the obvious attempt to be complete I also photographed the jets and other aircraft on display. |
While I was quite happy with the bounty of the 3-week stay, choices had to be made and I am looking forward to future visits to complete my collection and witness updates.
Due to the amount of photos I have divided this trip in 2 pages: Cairns to Sydney and Sydney to Melbourne.
I hope you will enjoy the collection I have to share and have put on display on this page.
Here is a map to get your bearings.
I was sitting on a ship, heading out to Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef, when I spotted DHC-2 Beaver VH-IDQ (c/n 1555) of Cairns Seaplanes taxying out; it made a run against the wind back in the direction of the Cairns harbour and while climbing for altitude, overtook our speedy catamaran. Its vintage radial engine had no trouble in beating us to the beautiful tropical Green Island. |
John D.Williams wrote me in June 2008:
I climbed Mt.Whitfield on a beautiful saturday morning; in terms of traffic taking off it was a disappointment, as I could only stay for 1 hour and did not see any planes departing except one QFA 767. |
But it is a unique view and has the General Aviation side of the airport in plain view.
The climb in itself is a worthy excercise; the Park is called the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park for which you have to take the main north road out of Cairns (Sheridan Street), turn left into Collins Street, soon there is a parking on your right and a trail starts there and climbs through tropical surroundings.
Douglas C-47B VH-SPY (c/n 33113) can be seen from the mountain; it does seem to be firmly stored and that is a pity. |
More on this DC-3 later.
Main reason of this visit on 05Nov05 was a tour in and around this vintage Fokker F.27, F.27-500 VH-EWP (c/n 10534) is owned by the Royal Australian Navy and used for Laser Airborne Depth Sounding (LADS). Aircruising is operating VH-EWP under their AOC for the RAN (anno 2005), while Executive Airlines are the approved Maintenance Organisation.
The Laser Airborne Depth Sounder is a mobile hydrographic surveying system, mapping the Australian coastal waters.
For years now has this Fokker F.27 been in reliable use; the operating height is 500m...
Crew monitor progress on this console; the laser is located (out of view here) next to the seats and data is stored in the cabinets left and right. |
The data obtained during the flight is processed on the ground in a mobile unit, which can be relocated as the mission requires. |
Here are some images and Acrobat Reader files to familiarize with "Whiskey Papa's " role: |
Set up and flightplan (Jpeg), flight ops (jpeg), Airborne Equipment (.pdf), Performance (.pdf), Accuracy (.pdf) and Maintenance (.pdf).
While 17Dec05 was the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the Douglas DC-3, the Fokker F.27 had an anniversary to celebrate in 2005 as well !
Bill Gronbeck sent me the following in Jan.2006: "I am one of the pilots employed by Aircruising Australia to fly the Royal Australian Navy's F27-500 VH-EWP in Cairns. I am sending you a photo of the First Day Cover issued locally to celebrate the anniversary of the first F27 flight."
Thanks Bill ! (Click on the photo for a full view of the First Day Cover).
This is one spotless Fokker Friendship, maintained to a very high degree, which pays off in a high dispatch reliability. |
VH-EWP manages to make some 920 hours a year and each sortie has an average endurance of 07:30 hours. Strict weather criteria and maintenance put a limit on the utilisation.
Mapping goes to a depth of 50 meters. The laser is eye safe at its operating altitude of 1.650 feet.
Gil White chronicled VH-EWP's history for me.
VH-EWP turned up at Melbourne-Essendon, 18Dec09, with Fugro titles. Being prepared for a new career. It was registered 17Jan2010 to Fugro LADS Corp., Mawson Lakes,SA.
I was shocked to read in Aviation Letter (aug.2011) that VH-EWP is no more!
|After years of research Hans K. Groen and Jan F. Homma have produced this CD-ROM: "The Fokker F27 Story".
It contains the development, production, operations and crashes of the Fokker F27. Over 3.000 pages to browse through and featuring a large selection of images and individual aircraft histories.
The first 'complete' story of the famous Fokker turboprop!
The CD-ROM costs EUR 29,95 (excl. postage & packing) at the time of writing: May 2011.
Please email your order to: hansklaasgroen2 -ATsign-hotmail -dot- com, or by writing to: Hans K. Groen, Archimedesweg 19, 1098 JK, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
This impressive cargo hauler is a Shorts SC.5 Belfast (registration 9L-LDQ, c/n 1819). It is in use by HeavyLift Cargo Services (operating name for Transpacific Pty Ltd); 9L-LDQ was registered on 21Jan03 and is former RAF military transport XR365 and HeavyLift G-HLFT (a UK based company that went bankrupt in Sep.2002, no relation to this company).
HeavyLift had the Belfast registered in the Philippines in January 2007, as RP-C8020. In August 2010 I found the Belfast put up for sale, location Cairns, and reported 'airworthy as off January 2010'.
Paul Koopman sent me an image of this Short Belfast at Cairns in May 2013, devoid of livery, titles and registration; see Photos by Friends & Guests (37).
It never moved (never airborne), this image on Flickr.com (Taken 09Feb2017) shows its unchanged, but rumors of
scrapping become stronger and stronger by Feb.2017...
Photos shared on Facebook early Nov.2019 shows it is still in one piece, all white and going nowhere!
This Douglas C-47B, initially serialled 16365 but due duplication error reserialled 33113, was delivered to the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) as 44-76781 on 24Apr1945. |
In itself it is amazing to see it survive.
The C-47B was delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with military tailnumber A65-102 and radio callsign VHRFS on 11May45. The radio callsign changed over the year sa few times: VMHRW, VMHRP and VMLFJ.
1964 saw it active at Pearce (WA) with the Base Flight. Its active service life ended when it was handed over to the Dept of Admin Services for disposal and on 22Aug81 it was registered VH-PTS for Paradak (Para's and Dakota's ?) at Melbourne-Essendon. It was seen here as VH-ANA in Dec. 1985 and it apperaed VH-PTS was only used for the ferry flight from Perth to Essendon in 1981.
This classic transport was used as a backdrop in a tv film called "A Far Country" and was seen stored at Camden, Sydney (NSW) in 1987. |
It was registered for South Pacific Airmotive Inc as VH-SPY (1990?) and reregistered N65388 on 27Oct99 (for the same owner, but not applied to the aircraft). Whether it was actually used for commercial activities I don't know, as it seems it was mainly reported as stored. But it did find its way to Cairns.
I was told the present owners are the same owners of the HeavyLift aircraft based here (Transpacific Pty ?). On 24May11 it was registered as N65388 to Harlan W. Jordan of Lady Lake,FL.
Paul Koopman sent me an image of this DC-3, devoid of titles it seemed and other markings; and moved to a different spot at Cairns airport, a bit more out of the way. See Photos by Friends & Guests (37).
I read this on the internet, posted 27Feb2017: "All of Nick Leach's aircraft around the country have either been sold, or scrapped.
This Douglas C-47A with c/n 12187 became 42-92392 upon delivery on 31Dec1943 to the USAAC; it was transferred as FZ631 to the RAF (Montreal) on 09Jan44 and proceed to the UK on 18Jan44. |
After WW2 it was registered as VH-EAN to QANTAS (18Apr49); its tailnumber changed to VH-EBF on 11Apr56 and to VH-EBU on 20Jan58.
Trans Australia Airlines became owner on 01Sep60 and it was reregistered VH-SBD (named "Madang") on 08Dec60. Its career turned exotic when it joined Air Niugini on 01Nov73; registration was revised to P2-SBD, which was again revised to P2-ANO on 11Dec75.
Activities ceased on 31Jul77 and it was reported stored at Port Moresby in Oct. 1979.
The C-47A was again reregistered as N5590C for Insured Aircraft Title Service Inc of Oklahoma City, OK on 13Mar80 for Red Cross work in Thailand.
John J Ford III bought this vintage propliner on 30Jun81 and N5590C was delivered to Bush Pilots Airways (BPA) on 28Oct81. With these titles it has been preserved on a parking lot of Cairns IAP (which has also become the owner) since at least 1985.
The fuselage and wingstubs have been declared as original c/n 12187, but parts from other DC-3s may have been used for restoration.
Under the rh-wing one can read a registration: VH-BPA.
On ABC Far North Qld was an item (05Sep08) with this photo of VH-BPA; it read:
Bad, sad news! Michael Clayton forwarded this to me in Feb.2009:
Up at Kuranda Market (approx 15 miles north of Cairns), the remains of a DC-3 fuselage and wings can be found at "Bird's World". |
Construction number of this Douglas C-47 is 6051 and its history reads as follows-
Delivered to the USAAF as 41-38668 on 29Nov42. It made its way to Australia in Jan.1943 where it joined the 5th Air Force. It seems to have been named "Geronimo". It was assigned a civil registration VH-AEO for DCA (delivery 10Jul44 and registered 09Mar45) for use by ANA.
The register was altered on 25Apr46 for operations by TAA (named "Cunningham"/"Clive Murray"?). Qantas leased it in 1948.
It was converted for survey work in Jan. 1957 and was registered as VH-DAS on behalf of Government of South Australia, Lands Commission (named "Clive Hambridge" but was operated by Trans Australia Airlines-TAA (reregistered as such 29Jan58). East West Airlines leased it from 17Mar75, but this did not last long as it was found stored, without further use, at Tamworth on 21Dec76.
Travmar Pty became registered owner in Dec78 and then it went to Maitland (a location ? or owner ?) for spares.
Its last activity, it seems, was when it was painted as 6903077 for a film "The Sky Pirates" but by then it was already in bits and pieces, similating a crash scene. The film was made in 1985 and released in USA/Australia january 1986 (thank you Juha Paulavuo).
VH-DAS on Airliners.net
Greg Lamey wrote me in Feb.2006: |
Re VH-DAS, it grieves me to see this fine a/c was wrecked for the sake of a most forgettable film. I flew in this a/c out of Adelaide in 1975 when it was indeed operated by East-West Airlines under contract for the "SA Department of Lands Aerial Survey Unit". I have a B&W photo I took from that date showing "Aerial Survey Unit" lettering. Interestingly (for me anyway), I was a Press Photographer at the Adelaide Advertiser at that time, and TAA were having a party to celebrate 30 years service with the DC-3. A mere 200 metres from the "high-brow" reception at Adelaide Airport stood an uninvited VH-DAS.... because she was now in the East-West colors!. TAA's media spin doctors at the time denied it was the same aircraft and had "no idea" what had become of "VH-AEO" that started it all for TAA...
Gil White chronicled the history of this DC-3.
See Bob Hunter's May 2010 pictorial update on my page Photos by Friends & Guests (25)
Syd Beck's Museum at Mareeba (Qld) has this beautiful DC-3 preserved here; it is A65-73 and is in Korean War "colours". The registration is not shown on the aircraft. |
The museum is run by Sid and is actually more or less part of his farm. The main collection of the museum sits rather randomly in a large vintage-type hangar, but the DC-3 sits on the grounds of the farm and Sid will have to escort you here as this area is not covered by his insurance covering the museum; and suppose you are attacked by his geese ... Sid is a friendly feller, in a grumpy sort of way, but it annoyed me when his wife started telling him to let me be, to go for his afternoon nap ... I was a paying customer, but did not feel like it.
|This C-47B was manufactured in Oklahoma City for the USAAC with c/n 15923 (due duplications reserialled 32671) and assigned military serial 44-76339 upon its delivery 12Feb45. It was transferred as A65-73 to the RAAF (radio callsign VHCIP, with 37 Sqdn) on 27Feb45. It saw service in Malaya, Japan and Malaya again (this time with 2 Sqdn from 1964 to 1966). It also operated as a TACAN Calibration Aircraft (radio callsign VMHJT) and was damaged beyond economic repair on 05Sep71 at Townsville (QLD). It was up for disposal by 1973 and at some point (date ?) made its way to Sid Beck's Air Museum.|
The museum has a variety of airplanes on display, but also a lot of cars, trucks, guns, etc. An excellent collection.
Syd advised two visitors, Chris & Phil, in Feb.2009, how he'd like to sell his Lockheed Neptune A89-277, if the money is right... A six figure amount was introduced into the conversation, by Syd! In order to get his DC-3/C-47 A65-73 inside, under cover.
A bit further down the road sits this Douglas C-47B: c/n 14050/25495.|
Its history started in 1943 as USAAC 43-48234 and joined the Pacific Air Transport Command on 31Jul44.
It was registered as VH-DMV for the Commonwealth of Australia/DCA in March 1947. Its loyalty changed to the Dept of National Development (06Oct47) and changed back again on 09Feb51, as VH-CAO, for the Directory of Civil Aviation.
Its governmental days over, it was registered as VH-BAB for Brain & Brown Airfreighters Pty Ltd on 10Mar62. Next was BBA Cargo Jan72, which seems like the same company to me, but I don't know for sure.
Malcolm Long of Chewing Gum Fld Acft Museum, Tallebudgera,QLD became the new owner on 21Jul79. It was declared "without further use (wfu)" on 23Jul79. In those days it appeared painted in USAAF WWII colours as "348234" and coded X6A. The latter may also have been X16A as with this code it was reported (1996) at Drages Airworld at Wangaratta, VIC (named Oklahoma Gal) and is seen as such today.
Oklahoma Gal is likely to be a reference to the birthplace of so many DC-3s.
So it has found its way up here at Mareeba after Airworld closed in 2002; DC-3 Census in Australasia has the owner as Mike Spaulding of North Queensland Warbirds (website?), but I found little activity here.
Bill Gronbeck wrote me in Jan.2006 with an update: "The North Queensland Warbirds C-47B was obtained by that group in 2004/2005. It has had QUITE a bit of work done to restore it to flying condition. The group has since obtained a rather battered P-40 Kittyhawk with a zero-time engine which is now being restored ahead of the C-47. It has become a long term project and is not expected to be in flyable condition for some years yet..
NQ Warbirds also owns a Harvard, a Nanchang, 2 Winjeels and a DHC-1 Chipmunk all in flying condition. Another of VH-EWP's pilots, Terry Minchin, flies them all on a regular basis."
A photo shared on Facebook, in july 2018, showed little progress in the restoration. It was still in its camo livery and had the outer wings disassembled.
Lockheed P-2V-7 Neptune with registration A89-280 was seen preserved here on 06Nov05 at Townsville,QLD. I distinctly remember the heat here... |
I could not linger or check things out at this airfield any further, due to lack of time; research on the internet provided its former US Navy BuNo as 149080.
In many reference books and on websites the PBY-5A Catalina flying boat, registered VH-BRI (c/n 1735), is listed as a converted houseboat and located at Shute Harbour. But the last sighting seemed to date from 1996. |
So I did not find it surprising that upon my visit it had long gone. When I asked around I was given the telephone number of the former owners, the O'Hara family. When I talked to them on the phone I was told it had been sold and had moved north, to Home Hill/Bowling Green (QLD). By that time I still had no idea what to look for and did not have the time to backtrack up north. So I was glad Terry Magee made this photo available to me: taken at Cannonvale on 25Oct75: one can hardly recognize in a plane in this houseboat !
Lee Morgan wrote me (Mar.2006) with: "48373 (c/n 1735) to N10018 then N95R, now VH-BRI in Australia as a houseboat. Was DBR (=damaged beyond -economic- repair) 08Jul1962."
Gil White wrote the following history of VH-BRI.
Further updates about its present condition and location would be welcomed.
Here is more on Planes-turned-Houseboat DownUnder
Donna Bellma wrote me in August 2008:
While I was looking at Shute Harbour for the Catalina-turned-houseboat, I soon found myself at the nearby airstrip looking at the activities of several Air Whitsunday deHavilland DHC-2 Beavers. I witnessed several movements with people coming and going: I sure envied them ! |
The aircraft has c/n 1066 and was former VH-VDG, VH-AAJ (and VH-AYS?), reregistered as VH-AWD on 29Jun99 by Air Whitsunday Seaplanes, Airlie Beach, QLD.
Here are some photos of it in the past on www.DHC-2.com
VH-AWI is seen arriving here at Whitsunday Airport (Airlie Beach), with some satisfied passengers on board. ||
Pax are seen disembarking from VH-AWI. |
And as VH-AWI for Air Whitsunday Seaplanes Pty Ltd of Airlie Beach,QLD on 22Feb02.
All this from Neil Aird's www.dhc-2.com, including some vintage photos.
VH-AWY c/n 1444 is getting a wash here, washing away the salt water of the Pacific Ocean. Hopefully I'll be on board the next time I get here: I cannot think of a better way to visit Hayman Island or the other tropical paradises along the coast.
We detoured through Bundaberg for the museum of Bert Hinkler. He was a famous Australian aviator as he made the first solo flight from Britain to Australia in 1928 (in a single-engine Avro Avian aircraft in 15 1/2 days!); this flight brought him 5 aviation records. He continued to win many more trophies and awards. |
He came to his death when on 07Jan1933 he took off again from London,UK for Australia; his body and wrecked aircraft were found in the Apennines. He received a State Funeral in Italy and was buried in Florence, Italy.
Next visit, 09Nov05, was to the Queensland Air Museum at Caloundra.
A hangar has recently been added and improvements are continueing, thanks to a sizable donation received by the museum; it was good to see a a lot of volunteers at work and I greatly enjoyed visiting this museum. The website has a page with details on the collection, with further details on each individual aircraft.
VH-ANR is a Douglas DC-3-194B (c/n 1944). It is the oldest surviving Royal Dutch A/L-KLM DC-3 ! |
This DC-3 was assembled by Fokker in the Netherlands and registered for KLM as PH-ALW (named "Wielewaal"); delivery was on 25Apr37. Amazing to see it survive after all this time...
C/n 1944 was reregistered PK-ALW for the KNILM for use in the East Indies. During WW2, on 19Mar42, it was assigned to the Australian Government. With tailnumber 11944 it was assigned to the USAAF (Australian radio callsign VHCXE) for use by 21 Sqdn on 15May1942. It seems General McArthur used it during 1942/43. It was assigned to the RAAF (36 Sqdn, "VHCXL") on 15Aug43. And on 01Apr44 is was assigned, as VH-CXL, to Australia National Airlines-ANA; it was reregistered VH-ANR (named Oana) on 22May46. The airline was renamed Ansett-ANA in Oct57.
Butler Air Transport bought it in Apr58 and Airlines of NSW bought it a year later, 17Feb59.
DeHavilland Dove VH-MAL has c/n 04120. It was manufactured in 1948 and served in Kenya as VP-KEJ and VP-KDG. The Dove arrived in Australia in 1951 and was registered as VH-MAL. During 1954 and 1955 it was reregistered as VH-AWE (Airlines Ltd) and VH-GVE (Southern A/L). It continued through several changes of ownership and in 1962 its tailnumber changed again, this time to VH-DSM (Chartwel Pty). |
In 1964 it was reported at Sydney as VH-BCB. It was changed again to VH-DSM in klast week of May 1964. It was sold to the Queensland Air Museum in 1986 and on 10May87 it arrived at Caloundra... on trucks. During 1989 it was painted in Mandated Airlines colours as VH-MAL "Rai".
Read its history in much greater detail on www.qam.com.au/aircraft/dove/VH-MAL.htm
Caboolture isn't very far from Caloundra, so we paid a quick visit to the Caboolture Warplane Museum here. No large vintage transports here, but a fascinating collection nevertheless. |
All the aircraft here, I was told, are in an airworthy condition (except for the MiG).
The Caboolture Warplane Museum is a flying museum. On display is a collection of WW2 memorabilia, including engines and photos. Opening hours are from 10:00 to 16:00.
There was just enough light to round the day off with a quick visit to Brisbane-Archerfield, to snap a picture of VH-PAF. This Douglas DC-4 (C-54E, c/n 27352/298) has been stored here for a number of years now.
Propliner magazine No.121 has an in-depth article about VH-PAF by Paul Howard, a very detailed history on this aircraft and its subsequent owners.
Gil White offers the following history of VH-PAF.
Propliner magazine No.120 featured a photo of VH-PAF, on 07Sep09 at Brisbane-Archerfield, with a 'new' starboard wing installed and in preparation for ferry flight to Wollongong / Albion Park. Great news: VH-PAF donated to the HARS!
This DC-4 ended up with HARS and was restored to full airworthiness in 2020.
On Nov.10th I came across this immaculate Beech 3 TM (CA-198) with tailnumber N6127 in Murwillumbah, just across the border in New South Wales. Some local people in a hangar told me it is for sale. |
The online US FAA directory has it still registered to Miles Consulting Group of Rosemount,MN. My plea for info on N6127 was replied to Bob Parmerter (who literally wrote the book on the Beech 18): "the 3TM you saw at Murwillumbah is Alan Miles' airplane; he is an Australian who lived in the US for a while and is now back Down Under."
Also John Hume wrote me: "here is what I have on this aircraft: CA-198 - Beech 3TM - 1598 RCAF / N6127 TW Enterprises, 19Jul68 / Priority Air Transport / Buckeye Air Service / Clarence Schroaeder / Caribbean Aviation Services / Miles Consulting Group, May94 / A Miles, 21Oct99"
Saturday Nov.12th saw a visit to the Australian Aviation Museum at Sydney-Bankstown.
UPDATE: anno May 2010 the website www.dc3.com.au and www.discoveryairtours.com.au (both no longer valid) offered the following information:
VH-DNA must've been Discovery (Dakota) National Air's flagship... A pity I did not see it at work and had to contend with taking some pictures in the blistering heat; the Tooheys-add made me think of ice cold beer all the time! |
Construction (c/n) 15685/27130 applies to this Douglas C-47B; it was delivered as 43-49869 on 11Jan45. It moved on to the Royal Australian Air Force as A65-68 (radio callsign VHCUY) on 23Jan45. There is a gap (see further below) in its documented history, as next we see it as "VMJRF" with Base Flight at Darwin in 1973. It travelled a short trip across the water and became P65-004 for Papua New Guinea Defence Force on 03Jan76, later (date?) reregistered as P2-004.
It was registered as VH-DNA to Dakota National Air on 19May94. Dakota National Air went bankrupt in 2003 but continued as Discovery Airways, which in turn went bankrupt on 12Feb04 and was restarted as Discovery Air Tours. They did flightseeing trips over Sydney, winery tours and charters (and I'd hoped to enjoy such a flight on my next visit!).
John Bushell wrote me in Aug.2007 with some additional info on this DC-3:
"I noticed one Dakota that you noted had a gap in records of its whereabouts. I can tell you that in 1964 it was part of the navigator training fleet at School of Air Navigation at East Sale. That was A65-68.
From my log book I will give you some numbers that might come in handy some time. They do not show the complete fleet at any time and place, just the ones I flew in--
SAN East Sale 1964 (Nav Course):
A65-88 - A65-84 - A65-80 - A65-65 - A65-14 - A65-100 - A65-67 - A65-68 - A65-30
CFS East Sale 1970 (fishery patrols):
A65-26 - A65-67
ARDU Edinburgh 1977-80 (Navaid Survey and Transport):
A65-65 - A65-86 - A65-114 - A65-78 - A65-95
Sorry I have not sorted them into order, just the order that they appeared in my log book... First Gooney flight A65-88 on 24 April 1964 ESL to ESL 4hrs30min. Last one A65-78 on 10 June 1980 Amberley to Edinburgh. 7.2 hrs.
Hope this helps if you are looking for tail numbers. Thanks for the nostalgia."
VH-BPN is Douglas C-47B, c/n 16197/32945. |
Its history reads as follows: 16197/32945 delivered as 44-76613 on 26Mar45, 2 days later transferred as KN470 to RAF Montreal (with 96 Sqdn 28Mar45-10Nov45). It moved to the Middle East on 09Apr45 and was registered as H-717 for Royal Pakistan Air Force at some point. G-ANMA of Field Aircraft Services Ltd became it snew identity on 11Jan54, bu tI doubt whether the C-47B went back to the UK.
Instead, we find it registered as VH-MML for Commercial Aviation Company on 20Apr54. This lasted for about a year: MacRobertson Miller Air Lines (named "Lyndon") became the registered owner on 01Jul55.
Ansett of Papua New Guinea took ownership on 10Jan69, which was altered as Ansett (Papua & NG) on 23May73. And Air Niugini on 01Nov73. Its tailnumber became P2-MML on 06May74 and was reregistered as P2-ANV on 21Oct75.
It returned to Australia as VH-MML for Bush Pilots Airways upon its purchase on 01Aug77. Its tailnumber was revised to VH-BPN on 20Oct77.
Ten years later we see VH-BPN disgarded by Air Queensland in Sep87 and was reported stored at Brisbane on 16dec87. It may have been taken back by Air Queensland in 1988, I am not sure; it was reported at Cairns on 06may88. Dick Lang (Desert Air Safaris) of Adelaide bought it in June 1992 and sold in in Sep95 to Dakota National Airways, which changed its name to Discovery Airways in 2003, anno 2005 changing it again to Discovery Air Tours (but this DC-3 was hardly part of any activities as such, I think).
Gil White offers the following history of VH-MML.
During this trip I came across a type I hadn't heard of before: the DeHavilland Drover. It seems indigenous types are not limited to the flora and fauna here in Australia, but also in the aviation industry! |
DeHavilland's first foreign subsidiary was set up in Australia in March 1927. The company moved to Sydney during 1930 where it acted as an agency for the parent company, with assembly, repair and spares facilities for the company's popular sporting and airliner types. Aircraft design and full manufacture by DeHavilland Australia did not take place until the Second World War, when the company began production of the DH-82 Tiger Moth primary trainer at Bankstown,NSW. The museum is only a short distance from the original DeHavilland factory buildings; more is the pity the museum probably has to relocate: city council is planning a road through here!
A completely Australian design, the DHA-3 Drover, was manufactured, although only about 20 were produced, mostly for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). Some were also operated by Trans Australia Airlines and QANTAS. Production of these aircraft took place between 1948 and 1952. The DHA-3 Drover was a 3-engined light transport capable of carrying 6 - 8 passengers, designed as a replacement for the DeHavilland DH-84 Dragon, which was common in Australia at the time.
This Drover is fully operational and is registered VH-FBC (c/n 5019); it is on loan from the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Peter Lewis from New Zealand added the following: "it is the only Drover that spent some time (1970 to 1988) in New Zealand and its history would be VH-FDA/VH-UMA/ZK-DDD/VH-FBC. I have it returning to Australia on 15/8/1988 with R Wood, Mt Eliza, V and WFU - registration cancelled 03Sep93."
This Douglas DC-3 is owned by the museum; it was donated by the Powerhouse Museum. Its tailnumber is VH-MMD and the construction number of this C-47B is 16553/33301. |
As one can see it is one of the ongoing restoration projects taking place at this museum.
Here are the details of VH-MMD's history: delivered as 44-76969 on 19May45 to the US Army Air Force and transferred to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as A65-109 ("VHRGX") on 31May45; it served with various unit sincluding 90 Wg (Malaya, 16Aug52). |
Its commercial carreer took off as VH-MMD for Commercial Aviation Pty, trading as (t/a) MMA (registered 24Jun58).
MacRobertson Miller Air Lines Ltd (named "Durack") had it registered on R22Dec66. On 10Feb69 it was registered to Ansett Airlines of PNG, which was revised on 23May73 as Ansett (P&NG) Ltd. Air Niugini had it signed to its name on 01Nov73, for which it registration was altered to P2-MMD on 01Jun74. And again to P2-ANU on 03Dec75.
It re-entered the Australian Registry as VH-MMD for Travmar Holdings Pty Ltd of Maitlar on 12Aug77; this lasted until (probably) 1979. It was reported as derelict at Sydney in the early 1980s. VH-MMD was bought from receivers of Travmar in 1985 by the National War Museum and exchanged with Powerhouse Museum of Sydney,NSW; which had it stored for a while at Castle Hill. Powerhouse Museum donated it at some point to the Australian Aviation Museum and I have it reported at Bankstown (YSBK / BWU) on 03Dec03.
Gil White offers the following history of VH-MMD.
VH-UPQ has its sights firmly directed to the historic buildings of DeHavilland Australia, it could be considered reminiscing aviation history... |
Dakota National Air, presently known as Discovery Air Tours, has its fate intertwined with the Australian Aviation Museum and perhaps there is hope yet for this Douglas C-47B workhorse.
History of c/n 16552/33300 reads as follows: delivered as 44-76968 on D18May45 and transferred to the RAAF as A65-105 RAAF (Radio callsign "VHRFV") on 29May45 and served with units 37 ("0M-V"), 86 Wg, 34 Sq, 38 Sq, 90 Wg (Malaya) and ARDU ("VMLMH").
It was registered as VH-UPQ for the Dept of Supply, Woomera Rocket Range (Short Bros) on 02Jul69, which was cancelled on 17Aug73. VH-UPQ was considered as surplus, "wfu". Next it was registered for Connair Pty Ltd on 25Oct74 and a few years later it started for Northern Airlines of Alice Springs (1979). Next year it went to work for Setair. And on 22Jul83 it was delivered to Adventure Air Tours.
VH-UPQ was reported with Australian Vintage Travel colours and titles during mid-1987, the tourist vintage plane flights idea failed and VH-UPQ moved to Sydney in Mar88 and went to work (in full AVT colours) for Rebel Air doing night freight work. things became a bit vague then: moving to Koomeela Australia with delivery 09Dec88, but was reported with Rebel Air titles as late as Feb93.
By Oct98 it was reported at Sydney-Bankstown with Dakota National Air, which still can be called home, but for how long?
Gil White wrote about the history of VH-UPQ.
And here is a MAP.
This is Douglas C-47B VH-PWN (c/n 14556/26001) which started its military career as 43-48740 when delieverd on 14Sep44, but quickly transferred to the RAAF as A65-63 ("VHCKN"); it served with units such as 38 Squadron (30Sep44), 86(T) Wing, 38 Sqdn, 90 Wg and stored (or stationed?) at Parabeel (24Apr65); it was reported to be operational with Tpt Spt (Transport/Support?) Flight at Butterworth from 1964 to 1973.
VH-MIN C-47A cn13459-- |
This C-47A was delivered to the USAAF as 42-93536 on 29 May 1944. It was shipped to the RAF depot in Montreal Canada as KG647 on 04 June 1944 and onward to the UK on 12 June 1944. It went to 575 Sq on 02Oct44. BOAC leased this ship as G-AIAZ on 03Apr46. It was shortly registered as KG647 again for 22MU on 31Jul46 and became
Setair became the new operator (Apr81) and next was Rebel Air of Sydney on 30Jun83.
It was reported with North West titles in May88 at Brisbane. It was delivered to Koomeela on 08Dec88 and was reported with Rebel Air titles at SYD-Bankstown during Feb93.
During the early-1990s VH-MIN was bought (from Queensland Air?) by South Pacific Airmotive (see VH-SPY above), to replace another DC-3 (VH-EDC). VH-MIN was registered to Dakota National Air in Feb98. It survives in storage, hoping for better days, with Discovery Air Tours.
David Scoggins wrote me in June 2007:
"Hope I can help a little with the history of VH-MIN , as whilst working in Wyndham in 1958, VH-MIN was working out of Wyndham on survey work with the BMR. Also, VH-MIN was parked at Canberra Airport, for some time, in 1984.
Hope this can fill in some of the movements of the aircraft."
This is VH-SBL, a Douglas C-47A with c/n 12056. |
Its flying career started as 42-92274 upon delivery on 06Nov43; it was transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force as A65-29 on 07Jan44 and flew with radio callsign "VHCTZ" with 35 Sqdn, later with 24 Sqdn. As VH-TAE it became registered to Trans Australian Airlines on 23Aug46.
New Zealand National Airways Corporation leased VH-TAE from 03Mar60 until 22Dec60. When VH-SBL returned to TAA it was named "Gregory" and later "Mr Hagen" (no details).
Air Niugini became the new operator on 01Nov73 and registered the C-47A as P2-SBL on 01Jun74, changing this to P2-ANR on 18Nov75.
It re-entered the Australian Register as VH-SBL for Forrest Stephen Pty on 18Oct76, but this was cancelled 2 years later, on 14Nov78. It was put in storage at Melbourne-Essendon.
Cranways Pty Ltd of Launceston, Tasmania (trading as General Cargo Airways) became new owners in Nov80. But this may be an error as my DC-3 book states "To Goldwings Australia (correction)"
Next was Travair, but no dates or details. Then on to Western Australia with delivery to Perth,WA during late 1986. It was reported to be still in Travair colourscheme on 16Aug87. One month later it was reported carrying titles of Overland Thoroughbred Media Services (OTMS) titles in Sep87; later it was named "Overland Voyager".
Northeast titles appeared (owners Barry Hocking and Sue Ryan) on 02Jan88. That year it crossed Australia for DC-3 Queensland PL of Freshwater,QLD in Feb/Mar88 (owner stated Rambler Tours). Whether this actually took off I don't know. A few years later, during Jun92, the new owner became Peter Starr of Gosford,NSW.
With Dakota National titles it appeared at Sydney-Bankstown in Feb93.
I was treated like royalty here, being personally guided by Trevor Dean, the honorary curator (the boss) of this museum. |
In a short span of time I learned many details and anecdotes of Australian Aviation and had the opportunity to admire the collection and the documentation center.
It is my firm intention to revisit this museum on the first possible opportunity for me to travel again to these parts of the world.
|Graeme sent me on 06Feb10 the following update on the Discovery Air Tours DC-3's-
VH-SBL was noted at Melbourne-Essendon with an engine running on 15JUN09; it had arrived at Essendon on 24MAR08 for maintenance.
The 4 Discovery Air Tours DC-3s located at SYD-Bankstown have been transported by road to a property near Molong, NSW.
Dates of arrival at Molong are:
VH-BPN 25NOV09 (approx)
VH-PWN 21JAN10 (Departed Bankstown same day)
VH-DNF will be moved from Warnervale to Molong in early 2010.
See also Photos by Friends & Guest PAGE 24
I owe heartfelt thanks to:|
Stephen Weatherstone of Aircruising for his time, tips and making his connections available to me
Rod Kelly for his time and enthusiasm, showing me around VH-EWP, sharing specifications and anecdotes by the pound
Trevor Dean for giving me the grand tour at the Australian Aviation Museum
"Oz-Spotters" Clive Lynch, Paul Daw, Tony Haynes and Terry Magee for setting me up with plenty of details and places to visit
Allen Clarke, Ron Cuskelly, Peter Lewis, Bill Gronbeck for their corrections and information
All those other people who shared their time, their enthusiasme and who simply gave me the time of my life Down Under!