Sunshine Coast Airport hosted a piece of aviation history this week, as DC-3 VH-AES ‘Hawdon’ visited the region from the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS), NSW.
Built in 1942, the Hawdon served in the Pacific during WWII before being converted to a commercial aircraft which flew TAA’s Sydney-Melbourne route twice daily from 1946.
The aircraft later flew to destinations considered ‘remote’ at the time, such as Hobart and Rockhampton, before being flown to Essendon for storage in 1959.
The Hawdon also graced the entrance to Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport from 1979-1987 as a fixed display feature.
Sunshine Coast Airport General Manager Aviation Business Development, Gareth Williamson, said the aircraft was unique in that it was developed for a military application; however it became one of the first and therefore longest serving aircraft to be used by commercial airlines.
“For its era, it could take a large number of passengers and was incredibly reliable, which meant it played a really important role in opening up communities across both America and in Australia,” Mr Williamson said.
“As well as reliable, the aircraft was also built to be tough and consequently continues to operate to this day in harsh climate conditions, including the Antarctic and Alaska.”
DC-3 pilot (ex-Qantas) Bob Small said the aircraft would be returning to NSW in the next day or two, piloted by himself and John Daley, also ex-Qantas.
“The aircraft is named after early Australian explorer and pioneer Joseph Hawdon, who mapped out the Princes Highway,” Mr Small said.
“It’s a fitting tribute to the aircraft’s early flying route between Sydney and Melbourne.”
The aircraft has been restored and is cared for by HARS volunteers, and is often now flown to air shows and events around Australia.