A replica of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s famous Fokker FVIIB, Southern Cross, will fly publicly for the first time in 21 years after its restoration by the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS).
The demonstration flight will take off from HARS Aviation Museum at Shellharbour Airport at 10:30am on Friday. The plane, dubbed the largest “close replica” aircraft in the world, has been restored by HARS over the past 12 years since the society purchased it in 2010.
Originally constructed in the 1980s, the replica of the famous aircraft used by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his crew to cross the Pacific in 1928 – which carries the original plane’s registration of VH-USU – suffered an undercarriage failure in May 2002, followed by wing and engine damage as it landed at Parafield Airport in Adelaide.
The restoration, led by project engineering manager Jim Thurstan, was funded by donors such as Robert Greinert and Dick Smith. The society is seeking further donations to keep the replica flying, with tax-deductible contributions able to be made at https://hars.org.au/donations/southerncrossreplica/.
“The damaged wooden plywood wing has been completely rebuilt to modern standards using traditional aircraft construction,” said HARS president and chief pilot Bob De La Hunty.
“While reconstruction of the Southern Cross Replica also has involved rebuilding the fuselage, landing gear, overhauling the three Jacobs radial motors, the electrical system and installing new radios, the end result looks almost exactly like Smithy’s Old Bus – it’s a flying work of art.”
The plane, which has undertaken a test flight ahead of the public demonstration, will subsequently be displayed as part of HARS’ December Tarmac Days.