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HISTORY

FLYING BOATS

Francis Chichester landed on Lord Howe Island for fuel on his epic solo crossing of the Tasman Sea in 1931. Overnight a storm flipped his aircraft and he stayed on the island for nine weeks completely rebuilding the engine and wings of his aircraft Madam Elijah before continuing to Jervis Bay.

During World War II the RAAF flew Catalina flying boats to Lord Howe Island setting up and maintaining a meteorological station and radio base.

After the war various companies started flying boat services around Australia and the Pacific. Trans Oceanic Airways commenced the first commercial passenger service to Lord Howe Island in 1947, followed a few months later by QANTAS Airways. Catalina and Sandringham aircraft were used for this service. Ansett took over the service in the early 1950s.

Providing the last scheduled flying boat services in the world, the majestic Beachcomber, Islander and Pacific Chieftain, each able to carry 42 passengers, took off from Rose Bay in Sydney Harbour for the three hour journey to Lord Howe Island. There were up to six flights per week during the busy season. Flights were timed to arrive an hour before high tide to ensure take-off on the full tide. This often meant departing Rose Bay early in the morning, adding to the romance of the trip.

By 1974 the operation of flying boats had become uneconomic and so, after all efforts to retain them had failed, a 1,000 metre airstrip was constructed by Australian Army Engineers and land aircraft took over the air service to the Island.

The flying boat Beachcomber was taken to England in 1980 and takes pride of place in the Southampton Hall of Aviation where people can see the flying boat fitted in Ansett colours.

Australis flying boats

Passengers alighting from a flying boat at Lord Howe Island

Catalina Flying Boat

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