After fifty years on display outside the Short Sunderland has just been moved into the main aviation display hall. This is a wonderful achievement and she looks great with a completely new paint job shining bright white. The move was made possible by placing two of the Lockheed twins, the Ventura and Hudson into storage with their wings removed, and having the DC3 in the main Belfast workshop.
The Solent flying boat has also been moved outside for a complete repaint. It will be protected from the weather with scaffolding and plastic wrapping as was the Sunderland in recent years. The news even made the TVNZ six o'clock news.
Thanks go to Ron Wilson for pointing out the following anniversary last year: "50 years ago today (Saturday 7 May 1966) the Solent ZK-AMO was towed across the harbour from Hobsonville to Meola Creek. I gather things didn't go completely to plan because it was left on the mudflats overnight before it was hauled out next day. Then it was towed down the Reef, across Meola Rd and up the slope and successfully positioned near the school boundary,facing out to the harbour. It was the first exhibit to occupy the new site which was a bare open patch of clay with the rubbish tip still in full operation at the other side of the property. The Solent stood alone there over that winter and defied the vandal and arson attacks until it was joined by the Sunderland in the following February. It had to wait outside for a further twenty five years until financial support could be rallied to build Stage II of the first aviation display hall. Fast forward another twenty five years to today and the Solent takes pride of place in the new display hall. But there is still unfinished business. An extensive restoration program was commenced and the Museum is still fund raising the substantial amount to complete it. Along with the Sunderland these projects are the priorities for the budget and workforce at present and are examples of the long term commitment that is required when a large exhibit is acquired."
The wonderful restoration of the Grumman Avenger is now complete following an extensive long term restoration project. The aircraft has now taken its place by the Fleet Air Arm display area at the front of the main display hanger. The hydraulic system of this WWII carrier aircraft is operational, allowing display of the bomb doors and folding wings.
A great new video has been produced by Motat to encourage people to volunteer, here is Carolina Gamez, and aviation team member.
- Short Sunderland inside the main Aviation Display Hanger (Michael Frawley on Twitter)
- Overview of the new aviation display hanger (Richard Wesley)
- Avenger under wraps in Belfast Hanger (Richard Wesley)
- Lancaster's new nose art (Richard Wesley)