Restoring the Southern Cross

In May, the Southern Cross replica will fly again for the first time in 20 years. Bella Richards spends time with the small crew of volunteers resurrecting her to find out how – and why – they did it.

 

Many have told Jim Thurstan, the chief engineer rebuilding the Southern Cross replica, that the project has gone on too long. “I thought it would take three or four years,” he says, “but now it’s over 10. But that’s what happens in a volunteer organisation with a bunch of retirees.” Thurstan, a lifelong Qantas man, knows all about resurrecting aircraft, having done the same for a Constellation many moons ago. This, though, is his most ambitious project yet: the original replica was built in 1987 but crashed in 2002. It’s time in the sky, at a standstill. Yet as we talk alongside the aircraft itself – in a hangar at HARS Museum – he stands on the brink of getting her airborne in May.

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