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A DAY AT THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL AVIATION MUSEUM MOORABBIN

test-viscount

The story of Australian aviation goes back to people like Lawrence Hargrave, Ross and Keith Smith, Bert Hinkler, Charles Kingsford Smith, Nancy Bird-Walton, Hudson Fysh. Remarkable people who pioneered flight down under.

They were larger than life characters – and so were the aircraft they flew. Aircraft have flight characteristics and styles that, for pilots and lovers of aviation, add up to distinct personalities. And when their flying days are done, old aircraft become something like old story-tellers.

Stand under a wing, or better still, climb aboard one of these old planes, and you begin to feel its history, the stories of the people it carried and the journeys it made. The TAA Viscount pictured at the top of the page flew in Cuba before coming to Australia – it’s thought to have carried Fidel Castro in the late 1950s.

The Australian National Aviation Museum, at Moorabbin airport in Melbourne, is the perfect place to see some classic aircraft and soak up the rich history of aviation in Australia. It has a wonderful collection of commercial and military aircraft – you can get very close to all of them and inside some. There’s really good information with the displays, and the friendly crew here are genuinely knowledgeable aviation enthusiasts.

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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in rd on the road

 

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FLYING LONDON TO SYDNEY THE SLOW WAY – THE CHEROKEE CHALLENGE FLIGHT VISITS FNQ TO EXPLORE FAMILY HISTORY

G-ATYS at Atherton

G-ATYS at Atherton

Last Friday, an aircraft touched down on the grass airstrip at Atherton, here in far north Queensland. Keen eyed observers might have noticed the 1966 Piper Cherokee carried a British registration – G-ATYS. It has been flown all the way from London by two private pilots who have managed to combine a grand aviation adventure with raising money for charity.

Andy Hardy and Sam Kidd left London in September on a 10,500 nautical mile journey called the Cherokee Challenge Flight, that will end in Sydney this coming weekend. Now they could have chosen to travel in more comfortable and much faster fashion, aboard the Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s that operate regular passenger flights from the UK. But Andy says he prefers to travel this way, despite the limited room and lack of a dunny aboard the single engine Cherokee. It flies closer to the ground, and you stop every few hours, affording a stronger sense of connection with the nations and communities along the route.

Andy left Australia 24 years ago, and he’s long dreamed of flying himself home in this way. And he’s raising money for charity along the way. He started out with a goal of raising at least one pound for each nautical mile flown, giving the proceeds to Oxfam. He’s already well ahead of that target.

The stop-over at Atherton has given Andy time to explore some very old connections. He’s never been to FNQ before, but his family has a long history here, going back about 150 years. So he’s spent the past few days immersing himself in the family story, including a visit to a local museum where he was able to see his great grandmother’s tea set.

LISTEN to Andy talk about his family history in FNQ and the Cherokee Challenge flight here

If you’d like to support Oxfam through the Cherokee Challenge flight go here

Follow the flight on Facebook

Or Twitter @andyhardy or #cherokeeflightchallenge

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NOW HERE’S A PROJECT! BUILD AND FLY YOUR OWN AIRCRAFT

J430-1

I built quite a few model aeroplanes as a kid. Mostly Airfix kits, and one made from scratch out of balsa wood that actually flew, powered by a small and very noisy engine. I’ll never forget the excitement, the sense of achievement I felt watching that little plane take to the sky for the first time. Now multiply that feeling by at least a hundred, and that’s what it must be like to build your own real life aircraft, one you can fly yourself and go places in.

Home built aircraft, or kit planes, are very popular in Australia – lower purchase prices and operating costs are a key factor. But many owners will tell you one of the big attractions was the challenge of building their own aircraft. There are more than 100 different types of home built aircraft flying in Australia, and there’s more on the way. One of the best known is the Jabiru http://www.jabiru.net.au/  – made in Bundaberg, the home of Australian aviation pioneer Bert Hinkler.

You buy the aircraft in kit form and it depends on you how long it’ll take to build. A good example is Cairns pilot John Martin – who took 1400 hours. Once you’ve got it registered and you have your pilot licence, you’re ready to fly.

Home built aircraft owners are represented by the Sport Aircraft Association of Australia www.saaafnq.com

Its Cairns chapter is having an information night next Thursday July 4 in Cairns for people thinking of buying or building a home built or kit plane. You’ll hear from people who’ve done it successfully, get the chance to ask questions and find out if it’s for you. The information session starts at 7pm at the North Queensland Aero Club www.nqac.com.au

LISTEN John Martin and Martin Boyle know they made the right decision. Click on the red arrow to hear John and Martin talk about building and flying their own planes.

Contact John j-martin@bigpond.net.au or Martin martinboyle53@bigpond.com for more information.

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Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, Radio Feed, rd on the road

 

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REMEMBERING FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND AVIATION PIONEERS

TOURISM HAS LONG BEEN THE FOUNDATION OF THE FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND ECONOMY. IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE HOW WE’D SURVIVE WITHOUT THE REVENUE AND JOBS IT CREATES.

These days most of our visitors arrive by air. Our tourism industry owes its existence to aeroplanes and the people who pioneered aviation in FNQ. Their story is eloquently told in a recent addition to the Cairns Airport domestic terminal – the Aviation Pioneers display.

It looks back to the days when the airport site was a mangrove swamp, and its earliest use as a landing ground. It tells the stories of the people, the companies and the aircraft that made safe air travel in FNQ possible.

CLICK ON THE AUDIO PLAYER TO HEAR KEVIN BROWN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF NORTH QUEENSLAND AIRPORTS TALK ABOUT THE PIONEERS DISPLAY.

QANTAS WAITING ROOM CAIRNS AIRPORT 1945

One of FNQ’s pioneering aviation companies was Bush Pilots Airways, founded by the late Sir Robert Norman in 1951. Bushies grew from a small operation to be a significant airline that developed new approaches to tourism in the region.

Bushies closed down in 1987, but its former staff are still in regular contact a quarter of a century later. They’re gathering in Cairns tomorrow for a re-union at which tall tales and true will be told.

CLICK ON THE AUDIO PLAYER TO HEAR EX-BUSHIES PILOT LYLE COOKE TALK ABOUT HIS TIME FLYING WITH BPA.

FORMER BUSHIES LYLE COOK & LIONEL DYER AT THE AVIATION PIONEERS DISPLAY CAIRNS AIRPORT DOMESTIC TERMINAL

CLICK ON THE AUDIO PLAYER TO HEAR FORMER BPA JACK OF ALL TRADES LIONEL DYER TALK ABOUT THE AIRLINE AND THE RE-UNION.

THE F-27 FOKKER FRIENDSHIP IN BPA COLOURS CAIRNS AIRPORT

RON ENTSCH & BUSHIES CREW WITH A DC-3 CAIRNS 1970s

CAIRNS AIRPORT CONTROL TOWER 1957

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Cairns Queensland, Cape York Peninsula, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, tourism, transport & roads

 

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CAN YOU HELP TELL THE STORY OF MITCHELL AERIAL SERVICES

MITCHELL AERIAL SERVICES DE HAVILLAND DH 84 VH-AIA AT CAIRNS 1959

IN THE YEARS AFTER WORLD WAR TWO, AVIATION BECAME THE LIFE-BLOOD OF FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND. PILOTS AND PLANES KEPT REMOTE COMMUNITIES SUPPLIED AND HELPED PROVIDE MEDICAL CARE. AIR SERVICES COULD GET THROUGH WHEN THE WET CLOSED ROADS. LIFE IN FNQ WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH HARDER WITHOUT THEM.

There are many memorable stories from those times, and I hope you can help dig up some more yarns.

In the early 50s, Neville Mitchell started a charter operation in Cairns called Mitchell Aerial Services.

NEVILLE MITCHELL'S BROTHER FRANK AT THE MAS BOOKING OFFICE

M-A-S flew all over FNQ until it was taken over by Bush Pilots AIrways (see https://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/bush-pilots-airways-an-fnq-aviation-tourism-pioneer/)

Neville’s daughter Robyn and her husband Tony are putting together a family history. They’re keen to hear from anyone with Mitchell Aerial Services stories or memorabilia. Tony was an M-A-S pilot, and Robyn remembers growing up surrounded by a wonderful bunch of aviators. Click the audio player below to hear Robyn & Tony talk about Mitchell Aerial Services.

Can you help Robyn & Tony tell the story? Do you have a connection to Mitchell Aerial Services, a story, a photo? Leave a comment here or email me dinnen.richard@abc.net.au

 

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BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS — AN FNQ AVIATION & TOURISM PIONEER

BUSHIES DC-3 BEING TAKEN DOWN FROM THE PYLON AT CAIRNS AIRPORT

ONE OF THE CASUALTIES OF THE CAIRNS AIRPORT RE-DEVELOPMENT WAS THE OLD DC-3 THAT HAD STOOD ON A POLE OUTSIDE THE DOMESTIC TERMINAL SINCE THE 80s — VH-BPA.

THIS VENERABLE AIRCRAFT FLEW KING GEORGE VI AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN DURING WW2, HAD BEEN A U-S MILITARY TRANSPORT, FLEW FOR QANTAS IN PNG, AND IT FLEW FOR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND’S VERY OWN AIRLINE, BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS.

THE LATE SIR BOB NORMAN AND A SMALL GROUP OF INVESTORS ESTABLISHED BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS IN CAIRNS IN 1951, AT A TIME WHEN MOST PEOPLE HEADING FOR THE NORTH OF THE STATE TRAVELLED BY RAIL OR SHIP. CAIRNS & SURROUNDS WERE A LONG WAY FROM ANYWHERE, AND THE LARGE SCALE TOURISM THAT SUSTAINS THE REGION TODAY WAS UNIMAGINABLE BACK THEN.

BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS OPENED UP MUCH NEEDED AIR LINKS BETWEEN CAIRNS & THE SMALL COMMUNITIES OF FNQ, KEEPING THEM SUPPLIED WHEN THE WET SEASON CUT THE ROADS. AND IT WAS REGULARLY CALLED ON TO SUPPORT THE AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE WITH EMERGENCY MEDICAL RETRIEVAL FLIGHTS. THESE SERVICES KEPT REMOTE COMMUNITIES & STATIONS VIABLE, AND ALLOWED FOR DEVELOPMENT & PROGRESS IN SOME VERY ISOLATED PLACES.

BUSHIES DC-3 VH-PWN CAIRNS 1973. THIS PLANE INSPIRED THE JOHN WILLIAMSON SONG PAPA WHISKEY NOVEMBER

BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS QUICKLY BECAME KNOWN AS “BUSHIES”. THE NAME HAS STUCK TO THIS DAY, AND PEOPLE STILL TELL STORIES OF ITS MANY ACHIEVEMENTS. BUSHIES PIONEERED REGIONAL AIR SERVICES AND TOURISM IN FNQ. BUSHIES SERVED THE STATE’S MOST ISOLATED PLACES, AND IT SAVED LIVES.

BUSHIES EVENTUALLY BECAME AIR QUEENSLAND, AND WAS TAKEN OVER BY TAA. IT CEASED FLYING IN 1988.

FORMER BUSHIES STAFF REMEMBER FEELING THEY WERE PART OF A BIG FAMILY, AND THEY CONTINUE TO STAY IN TOUCH. THERE’S A BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS RE-UNION PLANNED FOR APRIL 28 IN CAIRNS. IN 2008, I MADE A RADIO SERIES TRACING THE HISTORY OF BUSHIES BACK TO AN EXPERIENCE SIR BOB NORMAN HAD WHILE ON MILITARY SERVICE IN CANADA DURING WORLD WAR TWO.

CLICK ON THE AUDIO PLAYER TO LISTEN TO THE STORY OF BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS. 

EPISODE 1

EPISODE 2

EPISODE 3

EPISODE 4

EPISODE 5

A BUSH PILOTS AIRWAYS DC-3 ONCE ON DISPLAY AT CAIRNS AIRPORT

 

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A PERFECT DAY FOR FLYING FNQ SKIES

ONE THOUSAND FEET OVER RUSSELL HEADS FNQ

TODAY WAS THE PERFECT MORNING FOR ONE OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS – FLYING. CLEAR SKIES, A LIGHT NORTH-EASTER. A RARE THING IN THE WET SEASON – A PERFECT MORNING FOR FLYING, AT LEAST OVER THE WATER.

Rising hot air inland would make for a rough ride, and thunderstorms were already developing on the western Tablelands. But along the coast, it was glorious so that’s where I went this morning at the controls of Cessna 172 VH-LIO.

I’ve been in love with aircraft and flying since the first time I flew in 1965. Sydney to Coolangatta on a TAA Viscount. The view through the Viscount’s big windows was amazing as we climbed over Botany Bay. The acceleration, slipping free of gravity, the sensations of flight, it was all amazing and I was hooked.

TAA VICKERS VISCOUNT SYDNEY MID 60S

And I’ve stayed hooked on flying ever since. I always wanted to learn how to fly. At age nine I wrote to Qantas applying for a pilot job. They wrote back suggesting I wait a few years and do well in maths and science. Uh-oh. I did poorly in both, went off to Uni and drifted into journalism. Thankfully, it’s a line of work that has involved a lot of flying as a passenger. Here in Australia, around the Pacific, all over the world in all kinds of aircraft.

When I arrived in Cairns ten years ago, I was driving to work at the ABC when I passed a sign on the Cook Highway. “Learn to fly today” was what it said. I doubled back to the North Queensland Aero Club and started lessons within a few days. Ten years later I have almost 100 hours in my log-book and I’ve seen some magnificent sights, met some great folks, all through flying.

Learning to fly has been expensive, but immensely rewarding. It requires practice, study, and the cost means you’ll have to budget. But the basic skills are not that hard to pick up. Flying straight and level, turning, climbing and descending – they all come together quite easily. Even taking off. As for landings, well that’s another story. Things get very busy as you head down towards the runway, the wind starts to mess with your intentions. Getting my landings right was a long and frustrating business but I’m pleased to say today’s landing was pretty good.

With chief instructor Sally Scott supervising and taking the pictures, we took off from Cairns runway 33, turned right over the Barron River and tracked out across Trinity Inlet on climb to 1500 ft. We turned right after False Cape, passed east of Yarrabah and out over the Coral sea, heading south parallel to the coast. The hillsides, beaches and islands look beautiful. The sea is like glass, a stunning tropical blue. We do some orbits around High Island, hoping to spot the sometimes elusive manta ray who lives in area. No sighting, but the view is breath-taking.

We head across to Russell Heads and then to Bramston Beach, before turning north towards Cape Grafton. That’s when we call Cairns Approach on the air traffic control radio for permission to enter the busy Cairns control zone. We’re cleared to track along the southern shore of Trinity Inlet, pointing roughly at the Cairns Base Hospital. It’s a great view of the city on this approach. We descend and make the right turn to line up with the runway, flying along above north Cairns, the big Captain Cook looming out the left window.

That’s when the pilot gets busy. The hot air rising from the mangroves creates turbulence, the cross-wind wants to push us too far left of the approach path. We’re slowing down, trying to judge the decent profile and correct for the cross-wind while making sure the turbulence doesn’t send us climbing again. Lots of work on the controls, juggling the speed, telling the plane what I want it to do.

We cross the airport access road at about 300 ft and then we’re over the runway. I’m grappling with the controls, pushing against the unhelpful wind and get it down to about 20 feet over the centre line and flare the aircraft. The 172 loves to climb and fly. It’s less fond of landing, but slowly the speed washes off, the plane sinks gently onto the runway and we’re home. All up, about one hour 20 minutes of sheer delight.

If you’ve ever dreamed of learning to fly, here’s a tip. It’s way better than you’ve ever imagined. You’ll learn a lot, as much about yourself as about aeroplanes and meteorology. You’ll feel a profound sense of accomplishment, you’ll enjoy FNQ’s wonderful community of aviators. And you’ll look out the window, on mornings like today, and see from up high the best sights this country has to offer. 

For more info about learning to fly www.nqac.com.au

A few years back I recorded one of my early flying lessons and played it on the radio. Sally Scott took me up in a Cessna 150. Click the audio player to hear Sally talk me through the art of flying a light plane. 

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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Cairns Queensland, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, transport & roads

 

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