Qantas Founders Museum spreads its wings
The Qantas Founders Museum (QFM) established at Longreach, Queensland in 1996, presents the story of Australia’s national airline, Qantas Airways, and how it began in Western Queensland in 1920. It has a number of aircraft on display including an original Qantas Boeing 747, Qantas’s first Boeing 707, a DC-3 and a Catalina, together with full-scale replicas of some of the most important aircraft in the early Qantas fleet – DH61 Giant Moth, DH50 and Avro 504K Dyak, the airline’s first aircraft.
In September 2014, the museum made a successful bid for Super Constellation N4247K, in an auction held by the Manila International Airport Authority. The aircraft, which had been grounded in Manila for 25 years, had been used to transport fish cargo from 1981 to 1988. Originally delivered to the US Navy as R7V-1 Buno 131643 on 8 December 1953, it was modified for Airborne Early Warning duties as a C-121J and operated by the Pacific Missile Range, Point Mugu from 1962 to 1974. After storage at Davis Monthan it was registered N4247K to Northern Peninsula Fisheries in May 1981. QFM’S Super Constellation Project really got under way in December 2016 when N4247K was moved to the Port of Manila to be prepared for the sea journey to Australia by mid-2017. Once at Longreach it will be restored to appear as a late 1950s Qantas Super Constellation and will be fitted with innovative interior displays.
The QFM recently commissioned a technical survey of the Douglas DC-4 N44914 that has been parked at North Weald since 2005. Speaking to Pilot at Avalon on 2 March a director of QFM said “It’s not a done deal, we are looking at it and have had a survey done but not yet seen the report. It needs to be discussed further and of course we will have to raise the money to buy it and get it back. Currently the Super Connie is our number one priority.” Painted in Air Transport Command Atlantic Division colours and markings as C-54 Skymaster 56498 for its transatlantic journey with another similar DC-4 N31356, it was to have been flown for a film about the Berlin Airlift, but this did not happen. While the second aircraft was broken up in 2013 with the nose section going on display at Burtonwood, N44914 was kept in reasonable condition by Aces High. Simon Murdoch reports that the DC-4, that has a price tag of £60,000, was inspected by Historic and Classic Aircraft Sales in February 2017 and the company is confident that it could be restored to flying condition.
Douglas DC-4 N44914 parked at North Weald since 2005 is for sale
Super Constellation N4247K was moved to the Port of Manila in December 2016 PHOTO: QFM