Tasmanian aviation enthusiasts’ mission to put flying history on show
Tasmania has a rich aviation history and a group of flying enthusiasts is trying to promote and preserve it.
- The society wants to highlight how the island was “instrumental in developing aviation in Australia”
- Hundreds of historical items have been collected and now need a place to be put on show
- The society’s aim is to establish a museum, with Launceston Airport one suggested location
The island state played a key role in the early days of flying.
Sir Hudson Fysh, the co-founder of Qantas, was born in Launceston, while Harold Gatty, the navigator on the first flight around the world, was from Campbell Town.
Tasmania also played a part in the development of Australia’s commercial aviation industry.
The Holyman family formed a small commercial airline that flew from Launceston to King and Flinders islands.
Chris Byrne from the Tasmanian Aviation Historical Society said the company quickly grew from humble beginnings.
“Then that family company eventually became Australian National Airways, which was basically the biggest domestic airline in Australia up until after the Second World War,” he said.
Celebrating the past
The Tasmanian Aviation Historical Society has been established to document and promote the story of Tasmanian aviation, which dates back to the 1920s.
They’ve now collected hundreds of historical items including photos, aircraft parts and uniforms and have plans to put them on display to the public.
The society’s president Andrew Johnson said many members of the public had donated historical items and the aviation collection was growing quickly.
“We’ve been overwhelmed, we’ve been offered a few aircraft amongst all sorts of other memorabilia, lots of photos, lots of documents, some lovely letters and notes,” Mr Johnson said.
Items include a RAAF flying jacket from the 1940s and a flying helmet from World War II.
The leather helmet belonged to Mr Johnson’s grandfather, Laurie Johnson, who started an air service from Launceston to Flinders Island in 1932.
“That’s quite a significant piece for me,” Mr Johnson said.
Currently the historical group has a base at a building with a special history of its own, Hangar 17, near the airport.
The aviation building, built in the 1930s was the birthplace of Australian National Airways.
In the short term the group hopes to put the items on display to the public in a section of the hangar.
But in the long term they’ve got a grand plan.
“The dream would be to develop a little museum, a little aviation museum, potentially out here at Launceston airport,” society president Andrew Johnson said.
“Just to really demonstrate how these guys were really pioneers at what they were doing.
There will be a celebration for aviation enthusiasts later this month with the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Western Junction airport.