Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Adelaide Aviation Museum

This is a small, but very well organised museum near the Old Port.

It is completely housed in one hangar, which isn't large, but both the quantity and quality of the exhibits make it well worth a visit.


The curators use a very basic technique to ensure that they pack as much as possible in the limited space. They simply remove the offending bits of the displayed aircraft.

In the case of the Aero Commander on display, they have amputated the tail. Larger aircraft have sections of wing removed. On the face of it, this sounds like vandalism, but it's done with care, airframe if it doesn't fit in the available space.This tecnique is confined to the airframes that allow visitor access.

There are four aircraft that are accessible - an Aero Commander, an ex-CSIRO Fokker F-27, an ex-Navy Westland Wessex chopper, and an ARDC c-47.

By raising the tail, the c-47 is arranged so that it's fuselage is level which makes for a more accurate display, given that the only time the tail was dragging was when the ship was on the tarmac.

The Wessex has a looping DVD that provides a history of the English Electric Canberra on operational service in Vietnam. Their role (out of Phan Rang) has largely been forgotten, but they were very effective and accurate. There is an account of the loss of an aircraft crewed by Bob Carter, who was a Toowoomba lad. His body and that of the other crewman were the last recovered in SVN. This incident happened in the last few months of my tour in 1970.

Seeing the F-27 brought back some sad recollections. My mother had invited three of my mates to my 13th birthday party in North Eton (near Mackay) where we lived at the time. The party was to be held the day after these kids flew home from Rockhampton (where they were at boarding school). They were lost when VH-TFB (Abel Tasman) hit the sea off Mackay at night in fog. This disaster made a profound impression on me at the time.

The cause of the crash was never determined - it was in the days before black boxes.

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