The only airworthy Fokker F.VIIb-3m made its maiden flight earlier this week after more than twenty years. This was announced by the Australian Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS).
The Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) is located at Shellharbour Airport, about 100 kilometers south of Sydney. Spread over two hangars, the museum houses nearly forty aircraft, a large number of which are in flying condition. One of the pieces is a replica of the “Southern Cross”, a Fokker F.VIIb-3m aircraft.
Charles Kingford Smith first flew the original Southern Cross from California across the Pacific to Australia in 1928. This aircraft has been preserved and is in a museum in Brisbane. A replica of a Fokker aircraft was built between 1980 and 1987 in honor of Smithy. In 1988 the aircraft toured Australia to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Smithy’s flight. De Fokker then raised money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).
In 2002, the plane was severely damaged when it lost one of its main wheels during takeoff. During landing, a three-meter section of the wing broke off. After long negotiations with the regional government of South Australia, HARS was finally able to take possession of the aircraft in 2010. Last Tuesday, the Fokker aircraft made its first test flight after repair and restoration.
Jim Thurstan, head of the Southern Cross Restoration Project, said: “The test flight last Tuesday was very satisfactory and successful. The aircraft performed as expected and no defects were reported. Anthony Fokker would have approved!” The first test flight was conducted by Bruce Simpson and Mark Thurstan, son of Jim Thurstan.Simpson is a retired senior Qantas pilot.In 2004,Simpson flew a Fokker F.27 Friendship from Australia to Lelystad.This Fokker in NLM colors is now on display in the Aviodrome Museum.
Jim Thurstan: ‘Bruce is an aircraft technician and senior airline inspection and training captain. Mark Thurstan is an aircraft engineer and retired captain. I was on board as a project engineer, consultant and controller. The test flight consisted of a takeoff and climb to 4,000 feet, an asymmetric performance test, a stall and two approaches with a spin followed by a landing. After Tuesday we started training pilots on the Fokker. On Friday, the plane made a flight for the public and the press.
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