Toy Story

Yesterday I visited – for the first time – both the historic Evans Head airfield in northern New South Wales, and the co-located museum run by the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome and Aviation Association. Although filled with heavy – and light – metal of the kind you’ll see replicated in similar museums throughout the continent, I was awestruck nonetheless that a small group of regional volunteers should have achieved so much, in such short time.

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Gundaroo’s Ventura

I just remember the biting cold thinking, all the while, that perhaps we shouldn’t have been traipsing – in winter – through bush-land in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, especially while it was sleeting. Thoughts of all that wasted organisational effort might have dissuaded me from postponing, along with the knowledge that any future date – that winter – could have been just as bleak. We were young, and the prospect of visiting a Lockheed Ventura crash site, so close to Canberra where we all lived, must have been incentive enough.

Squadron Diaries (Form A50s) need to be approached with some cicumspection, this 13 Squadron entry showing A59-55 departing for repairs a week after it had been destroyed at Gundaroo. The navigator on that occasion was E G Whitlam, who returned to Canberra years later as the Australian Prime Minister (NAA A9186,35).

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‘Strathmore Star’

The Strathmore Star was one of several aircraft wrecked by a cyclone which devastated the Bowen (Queensland) region on 2 April 1958. The Auster was later rebuilt however, and is thought to still be flying as VH-SNK (Delamothe Collection, James Cook University).

Founder of Bush Pilots Airways Ltd., Edward (Ted) Cunningham, named all the aircraft in his fleet, always with the suffix Star.

Strathmore Star was named after the owner’s stud property, Strathmore, near Collinsville in north Queensland. Following is an extract from a letter which Cunningham wrote (dated 8 December 1989), recounting the circumstances of Strathmore Star’s demise… Continue reading “‘Strathmore Star’”