IT A BIRD?
IS IT A PLANE?
YES - IT'S BOTH.
IT'S A HERON.
by chance and partly by design, the museum has built up
one of the widest collections of post-war de Havilland aircraft
in Australia. This has just been enhanced by the addition
of Heron Mk.2. VH-KAM. Our interest in Herons dates back
some eight years when I was collecting our second Drover
in Tasmania. At that time, one of Airlines of Tasmania's
fleet of Herons was being cannibalised and a new Shorts
360 had just arrived. Our representations at that time were
unsuccessful, but three years ago, after take-over by Tamair,
the Heron fleet was virtually finished with - only one airframe
having hours left on it. We were invited to tender for one,
but as we had just made another purchase, it was not possible
to make a respectable offer or even fund the surface transport.
Subsequently, the aircraft were bought by Australia Pacific
Air Parts, the usable spares and parts sold off with the
airworthy machine, and the remaining airframes donated to
the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston. The most complete
will go on display in that museum's new energy exhibit on
a redeveloped site at the Invoresk Rail Yards. Through our
contacts, built up over many years, we were offered one
of the other two.
aircraft comes in very respectable condition less engines,
mounts, seats, cowls and instruments. Engine mounts, seats
and some instruments are promised to us by friends who also
operate Herons so she should be largely complete on assembly.
Preliminary moves towards fibreglass cowl moulds have been
made and prop/spinner moulds are in existence.
of the aircraft has been one of the less traumatic experiences,
as it had already been carefully dismantled by museum staff.
At our end, much investigation had produced a transport
quotation around half previous figures, and this made the
whole project feasible. With the kind assistance of Qantas,
I was able to travel to Tasmania on 8.2.98 (with Yvonne
coming along at her own expense in hope of our first holiday
together in eight years). Landing in Launceston on Sunday
afternoon meant we could start first thing Monday to prepare
for loading Tuesday. The fin was quickly removed (being
largely identical to the Dove). However access to and within
the building in which the aircraft were stored was difficult.
Being an old railway machine shop, it was complete with
rails running inside, overhead power lines outside the entrance
and transverser lines also, while the building was largely
taken up with potential exhibits. Consequently, the rest
of the day was taken up with rearranging the contents of
half the building to allow movement of the fuselage and
wings on trolleys, whether built for the job or not. The
interior of the fuselage had to be cleared of miscellaneous
material, the floors replaced and then control surfaces,
door, interior accessories inveigled through the doorway
and packed as well as possible for the trip north.
next day it was an interesting experience manoeuvring a
45 foot long object on a trolley towering 10 feet high diagonally
through the door way, over the irregular entrance step under
control (?) of 3 men. Obviously these jobs cannot be done
alone and I was blessed by the assistance of David and Michael
from the Queen Victoria Museum, who committed two and a
half days of their effort to the project. Once outside,
the fuselage and later the wings had to be moved 30m to
a carpark where there was room for crane and semi-trailer
to operate and loading to be completed. This was in our
usual style with wings on either side of the fuselage down
the length of the trailer. The one hangover problem then
was the impossibility of fitting the dihedral tailplane
in any of the spaces left on the truck. This was left for
modification the next day and sent on to be added to the
trailer which was waiting at the depot for the trip across
the journey northward encountered some mechanical difficulties,
but the load eventually arrived on 18.2.98 and was unloaded
at Caloundra with good media attention. Some minor damage
has occurred to one leading edge, undersurface, and antenna,
all of which is repairable. As a bonus, I stopped off in
Sydney on Sunday 22.2.98 on my return to meet old faithful
Austral (the truck) manned by Ian and Don Daniels and to
load our Victa Airtourer for transport to Queensland. It
had been hoped that Heron seats and mounts would have been
ready to load also, but these have been delayed. Austral
was despatched around 3pm and arrived in Brisbane on Monday