Elmes and Mick Hinsbey
10th December we flew with Virgin Blue from Brisbane
to Canberra. On arrival, we collected our hire car and spent
the afternoon at the Australian War Memorial. Mick had not
seen it since approx. 1974 and commented that a few changes
had occurred! The big question was how to fit an ME262 in
our baggage home or how about G-George?
11th December found us leaving Canberra at a very
unreasonable hour of the morning heading for Tocumwal. It
dawned upon us that with plenty of time on our hands a minor
detour would take us through Temora where we could see the
collection that David Lowy has put together. It was fascinating
to see so many airworthy aircraft and coincidentally arrive
just as their latest acquisition of the two Sabres was made
also pleasantly surprised to meet Dave Smith at Temora. Dave
is the Assistant Manager of Fighterworld at Newcastle and
he was on his way to Tocumwal to collect their Hunter which
was also donated by Greg Ackman. We had earlier agreed to
pool resources with Fighterworld in an attempt to keep costs
Tocumwal later that day, we proceeded to recce the airfield
with the wartime hangars containing our Hunter the first stop.
We then called on Sportavia and its wartime hangar on the
other side of the airfield. We took the opportunity to sneak
a peek in the hangar at a wide variety of gliders, derelict
aircraft etc. Sportavia attracts glider pilots from all over
the world and has a real international mix of visitors.
note sitting out front of Sportavia "For Sale" is a Grumman
Albatross (minus port wing, removed for maintenance).
evening, Greg Ackman, donor of our Hunter, flew in with Geoff
Moesker, owner and original importer of all the Hunters. Greg
kindly invited Mick and myself for dinner at Sportavia's restaurant.
We found it a useful opportunity to discuss the Hunters and
possible future opportunities with Greg.
12th December is the big day. Unfortunately it
began on a flat note. With our three semi trailers all ready
to go, there is a delay gaining access to the hangar in question!
Thankfully the problem is solved quickly with the aid of Greg
Ackman. Entering the hangar was an amazing sight with Hunter
fuselages, wings and tails lying in their transport cradles
covering over half the hangar floor. One unfortunate issue
was the many years of dust covering everything. After strategising
with the truck and crane drivers, work began with lifting
the two Hunter fuselages onto their respective trailers.
- how do you lift a Hunter fuselage over the top of other
airworthy ($$) Hunters?
- very carefully!
had the two fuselages loaded, we moved on to loading the third
trailer with Rolls Royce Avon engines, wings, tailplanes and
fins. This took the better part of the day with much swearing
and cursing owing to the difficulty in managing the wings..
of the day was the co-operation from everyone. Greg Ackman
provided endless and welcome supplies of food and drink to
keep us going. Geoff Moesker's assistance with loading was
invaluable. The assistance by the Cam-Trans truck drivers
was fantastic and the local crane driver provided invaluable
from this recovery was the chance to meet and work with a
fellow museum operator in Dave Smith of Fighterworld. Pitching
in regardless of whose airframe we were loading and sharing
the same dramas was a great opportunity to build a relationship
with a fellow aviation enthusiast from a similar organisation.
waved the trucks good-bye there was just enough time to have
a drink with Greg and Geoff before we hit the road. We managed
to make Wagga by 9.30pm that night, both of us exhausted.
next day was another early start, beginning with a quick
stop at RAAF Wagga to look at the collection of gate guardians.
Then a mad dash to Canberra for our flight home again with
Virgin Blue. I feel a little sorry for whoever had to wash
our hire-car. A locust plague in the area meant "bug smash"
on the car was horrendous. Finally we arrived in Brisbane
with sufficient time to rest up before attending the Brisbane
meeting that night! The Hunter arrived at Caloundra on 14th
December and the aeroplane was back on its wheels on 3rd