Aviation history returns to Warrnambool

A piece of Australia’s aviation history flew into Warrnambool yesterday carrying descendents of the first chairman of Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) onboard.

The flight of the heritage DC3 airliner was to include Nancy Duncan, who was 22 when the plane first travelled from Melbourne to Sydney with 24 passengers more than 66 years ago, but poor health meant she was unable to attend.

Mrs Duncan is the daughter of TAA’s first chairman, Sir Arthur Coles.

Speaking via telephone, Mrs Duncan said it was “truly wonderful” the vintage aircraft was still airworthy.

“I’ve travelled there in my mind but my body won’t let me be there,” she said. “It’s wonderful, there are so many memories.” 

Instead, about 20 members of the Coles family flew return from Melbourne, including sixteen-year-old James Coles who was inspired by his great-grandfather  John Coles, who was 13 when he flew with his sister Nancy.

“I’m just really glad this history is living on,” James said.

The restored plane, named Joseph Hawdon, was built in 1942 and saw action in World War II. It has made several trips to Warrnambool before, including one in 1998 with former Qantas chief executive James Strong.

At the controls was Captain Allan Searle, aged in his mid-70s, who grew up in Warrnambool.

“It’s a little bit old-fashioned and a little heavy to control,” Captain Searle said.

The flight was organised by the TAA 25 Year Club.

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