‘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…

…Auster S.T.B. Sierra Tango Bravo was called “Strathmore Star” and had the name of my stud brand on the fusilage [sic]. I had it for about three years…I think the wreckage was picked up by a maintenance firm in Townsville. I learnt to fly at Bankstown in Sydney and completed my training on the property here.

I had flown the Queen Competition winner and a companion over to Proserpine where they were to holiday at Hayman Island. I dropped them off and wanted to get back straightaway as the weather was getting very dirty. However control would not let me go as they said there was a plane coming in for Brisbane. It duly arrived over the airport but would not land due to the weather. I was then allowed to leave but by that time the cyclone was almost here. I had to follow the rail line to Bowen at less than 100 feet and tied up against a brick building. After the cyclone had gone through there was no brick building and no plane.