Brisbane to Caloundra - Friday 13th June 1986


Thanks once again to the expertise of Brambles, our aircraft were successfully shifted from Brisbane Airport to Caloundra in the early hours of Friday 13th June. Loading commenced at 1.00p.m. on Wednesday 11th June and was completed by 4.00p.m. The loaded trailers remained on site until the afternoon of Thursday 12th by which time DoA groundsmen had dismantled some gates and fencing to facilitate removal from the airport. Once again we record our appreciation of the efforts of the Department of Aviation staff at Brisbane Airport. Not only did they have to dismantle gates and fences but they also had to build a new road so that the trucks could gain access to public roads. For this our last move, we were fortunate that the roads to Caloundra permitted shifting the Canberra in the manner with which we are so familiar! The nose and rear fuselage were both loaded on a conventional semi-trailer while the enormous centre section with the complete wingspan was loaded lengthwise on an extendible trailer. The centre section is very tricky to load and on this our fourth attempt we finally got it perfected! With this load it is important that the fuselage be level to minimize overall height, and indeed on this occasion it proved to be perfectly level. In order to reduce the cost of the police escort, Brambles decided to load the Meteor and the Sea Venom together on the one trailer. As you might guess, this was not your everyday trailer! With ten steerable axles and eighty wheels this hydraulic leviathan requires a police escort even when empty.

Shortly after midnight on Friday 13th the convoy departed Brisbane Airport under the escort of four police motorcycles and two police cars. The procession consisted of Meteor + Sea Venom, Canberra centre section, Austral Mining Dodge under the command of Dick Hitchins, and HQ Holden with Ron and Maureen Cuskelly. In addition Brambles supplied several escort vehicles. On descent into Caloundra the parade was joined by the Brambles crane. The convoy arrived at the hangar at 4.00a.m. and unloading commenced immediately with the only light being provided by vehicle headlights. The Canberra nose and tail, which did not require an escort, arrived shortly after to be unloaded just as the sun was coming up.

During the unloading, Ken and Mike arrived in the Land Rover. By this time the local radio station had broadcast the arrival of the aircraft and we were soon joined by several local members and many curious onlookers. As the ground surrounding the hangar was still very soft, it was necessary for Brambles to unload the aircraft at the front of the building. Consequently it was first priority to tow the aircraft around to the back of the hangar. Because of the softness of the ground we didn't really expect that we would be able to tow the aircraft inside the hangar. Nevertheless, the Sea Venom was quickly towed inside despite a minor fright when the chain securing our makeshift towbar parted. As you might expect, this event received much media attention! With the Sea Venom safely positioned in the back of the hangar, attention turned to the much heavier Meteor. With the realization that once bogged, the Meteor was likely to stay bogged, progress was slow but sure thanks to the ever present Marsden matting. In due course, the Meteor was also safe in its new home. Once inside the hangar it was possible for several people to push the Meteor! This is entirely due to a new invention called "concrete". Say after me - C 0 N C R E T E. One member was so impressed with the concrete that he launched into a Pope impersonation!

All of this momentum continued into the following Saturday when the Canberra was successfully reassembled thanks to the crane loaned by Mr. Podevin. On the weekend 21/22 June, the Canberra tailplane was collected from Brisbane Airport with the Brisbane Bottle Exchange truck. On the Sunday, the tailplane was fitted to the aeroplane. With the removal of the tailplane from Brisbane Airport, the only items remaining were a few fence posts, tyres and a coil of wire. This is significant, as when we first came into dispute with that man in Canberra, we indicated that we would need six months to vacate the airport. Although this was disputed at first it was agreed that we submit a proposed schedule for our "earliest possible total vacation". This schedule which was prepared in January 1986, planned for the removal of the last significant load on 22nd June! Thus our largest undertaking to date was accomplished bang on schedule. Heartfelt thanks go to all members who were involved in the planning and execution of this operation. Similarly we extend our sincere thanks to everyone at Brambles, who despite some alarming cost increases, have just presented us with an account for $5,000.00 as originally agreed. Bearing in mind that it cost us nearly $2,000.00 to move our collection from Nudgee to Brisbane Airport six years ago, this represents excellent value for money. We thank Bob Parker and Case Schulties and especially Eric Collier and his team for their expertise. We have recently rewarded these gentlemen with several cartons of beer. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Big Move! (Don't forget - Dick Hitchins' slides will be screened at the July social meeting on the 15th).