Aircraft Flies Again in Unbroken

He survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific and spent two years in a Japanese prison camp but the life of former Olympian Louis Zamperini is currently being played out on cinema screens across Australia. Continue reading

Coming Up: CanvasWings Ep 10

On CanvasWings this weekend from 6pm:

Warwick Henry talks about his Stinson L-5B Sentinel which saw action in WWII with the U.S Army Air Force.

Take a 360 tour of it below via our instagram or see more pics of the Watts Bridge Fly- In here

And Meet Denis Baker. Former ground and flight test engineer at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC and later Hawker de Havilland Victoria) and find out how he became the “keeper” of an important collection of documents.

Find more on one particular aircraft the CAC built here.



Coming Up: CanvasWings Ep 9

Rhi and Dave in the Brisbane ABC studios.

Rhi and Dave in the Brisbane ABC studios.


Celebrate the 75th Birthday of Wirraway A20-10 at the Australian National Aviation Museum and find more photos of the day here.

The Wirraway's 75th Birthday Cake. (c. David White)

The Wirraway’s 75th Birthday Cake. (c. David White)

Author Kristen Alexander discusses her new book ‘Australia’s Few and the Battle of Britain’.

To listen to the full CanvasWIngs podcast, click here.

Also mentioned:

B-24 Liberator at Werribee in 2013. (c. David White)

B-24 Liberator at Werribee in 2013. (c. David White)

Celebrate the B-24 Liberator’s 70th Birthday at Werribee, near Melbourne, on Sydney September 28. Lots happening, find out more here


MOTAT in Auckland, NZ.


After the excitement of The Australian International Airshow and as part of my birthday present, Rhi and I headed over the Tasman Sea to New Zealand for the Classic Fighters Airshow at Omaka.

The only problem (if you could call it that) was we had a few weeks to wait.

Fortunately Chris, the cousin who met up with us at Avalon, invited us to stay at his house in Auckland for a week or so and while there we headed off to the Museum of Transport and Technology, or MOTAT as it’s known.

MOTAT has two sites linked by an old Melbourne tram which is currently on loan.

Site One has the world’s only working steam water pumps, along with a number of vintage trains, cars, historic houses and an Antarctic display featuring Sir Edmund Hillary. Rhi enjoyed looking at all the old fire engines from around the world as well as learning where the 40 hour week came from (yes NZ!)

It would be an understatement to say I was really looking forward to Site Two.

Site Two is where you’ll find the Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Collection. If you don’t know who Sir Keith Park was, he commanded the RAF’s 11 Group of Fighter Command, which was responsible for the defence of London and Southeast England during the Battle of Britain.

The replica Hurricane in front of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Collection at MOTAT

The replica Hurricane in front of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Collection at MOTAT

After a quick 10 minute ride on the tram Rhi and I arrived at the site. It’s huge!A massive hangar with who knows what behind its doors.

After a quick look at the replica Hurricane fighter out front,  we went in. Greeting you is a small shop, the front desk and a Tiger Moth hanging from the ceiling.

I could already tell I was going to like it here.

Going into the main aircraft hall you can’t help but see a Lancaster bomber and an A-4 Skyhawk fighter. These are just the first things you see as the cavernous hangar seems to stretch on forever. And all you can see is aircraft!

The sleeping bag Sir Keith Park's used in WW1 when he was a Major in the RFC.

The sleeping bag Sir Keith Park’s used in WW1 when he was a Major in the RFC.

The RNZAF is well represented from World War 2 until the last of its fighters, the A-4. As well as the main hall there are a number of other areas to explore, like the Fleet Air Arm, Bomber Command and an exhibition on the de Havilland factory which was based in Wellington. Interestingly, Sir Keith’s WW1 sleeping bag is on display at the museum along with his top hat which was used for formal dinners. There’s also a great display dedicated to the first lady of the New Zealand sky, Aviatrix Jean Batten.

The Short S.45 Solent, one of the last of its breed, at MOTAT.

The Short S.45 Solent, one of the last of its breed, at MOTAT.

One aircraft I was really looking forward to seeing was the Short Sunderland. But what I wasn’t expecting, was seeing a Short Solent flying boat.

Short S.45 Solent passenger cabin.

Short S.45 Solent passenger cabin.

This Solent (above) is one of only two left in the world and is currently being restored to the condition it was in when it flew in the 1950’s.

Rhi and I were lucky enough to be invited for a look inside. Rhi particularly liked the sweeping staircase as you got into the plane, the bespoke kitchen cabinets in the galley and the staircase to the upper deck.

The Solent is very complete but has suffered from its time left outside. I wish these remarkable machines were still flying. They have so much more character than modern airliners (in my opinion) and makes me think back to the days when flying was glamourous and people got dressed up to do it!

Ex-RNZAF Short Sunderland being restored outside at MOTAT

Ex-RNZAF Short Sunderland being restored outside at MOTAT

I was still a little disappointed that I had not yet seen a Sunderland, but that soon went when I mentioned I’d come to see it and was told “Oh, yeah, there’s one just out the back there”.

We went outside and there it was. Covered in scaffolding but substantially complete, the flying boat is one of only five complete Sunderland’s left. It will eventually be brought inside.

Also outside was a Dakota, Hudson and Ventura.

The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland is definitely worth the time to go and visit. It’s very easy to get to by public transport (we caught the bus and the driver let us know where to jump of) and its an easy walk once you’re on site. The tram operates every 30 minutes between both sites or you can walk if you feel up to it.

You can find more pictures of MOTAT at the CanvasWings Flickr page.

A Look back at Avalon 2011

With the 2013 show looming, I thought I’d take a look back at some of my highlights from the 2011 Airshow.

The F-22A’s which were there for static display (although we saw them fly out) were in Australia for the first time.This year I’m looking forward to seeing them fly.

A notable 2011 visitor not coming to this show is the B-1B.

2011 had a great variety of warbirds and historic aircraft and it looks like 2013 will be the same. Seeing two DC-3’s flying at the same time is a rare sight. The RAAF always put on a great display and in 2013 I’m sure they’ll do another great job. We’re also looking forward to seeing myriad GA aircraft that are always at Avalon, the pavilions and catching up with Airshow friends.