This is just a short post to tide you over (i.e. buy me extra time) while I research and write some bigger stories I’m working on.
I also wanted to bring a great short film to your attention – one that should be required viewing for anyone with an interest in Australia’s aviation history.
Big Sky Country
Aircraft At Work was part of a Transport in Australia series produced by the Australian Commonwealth Film Unit in 1966. That’s fifty years ago, and a lot has happened since. But I can’t help thinking we’ve lost more than we’ve gained in the variety stakes.
Outwardly, today’s airliners aren’t much of an advance on the sharp TAA 727s and lithe QANTAS 707s shown in all their glory here. And the GA ramp looks remarkably similar to the one down the road (keep an eye out for the V-tail Bonanza, which was given pride of place on the day), minus some newer Cirrus singles and Diamond DA-42s.
But on the debit side, films like this are the only place you’ll still see the ubiquitous Dakota/DC-3 in Australian service, along with Ansett Carvair freighters (converted from Ansett DC-4s by Freddie Laker’s ATL at Stansted in the UK), Vickers Viscount turboprops, Fokker Friendships, De Havilland Doves and, of course, those purposeful 727s.
It’s also kind of fun to watch the long wings of a 707 flexing and writhing through its landing roll at Sydney, and human blood being transported in what look like paint tins.
You just don’t see that stuff anymore.
Coming from the Commonwealth Film Unit, the film draws on some rare and remarkable historic footage.
You’ll see the innovative weight-lifting box kites of Lawrence Hargrave, then early flyers in their Bristol Boxkites; plus period footage of Ross and Keith Smith after their epic 1919 (!) England to Australia flight, trans-Pacific pioneer Charles Kingsford-Smith, inter-War Royal Australian Air Force aviators and others.
It is, in a word (or four), not to be missed. Take 17 minutes and treat yourself.