Money is all that’s standing between the Qantas Founders Museum and an iconic display that oozes a ton of history.
The Longreach-based aviation museum estimates its project to bring a Super Constellation aircraft back from the Philippines to form the basis of another aircraft tour experience and boost regional tourism will end up costing $1.5 million.
A number of stages – buying, recovering and dismantling Lockheed Super Constellation N4247K – have been ticked off, and the group is nearing its goal of having enough money for the transportation phase, according to CEO Tony Martin.
The “Connie” is important to the Qantas story for lots of reasons – it was the plane that operated the Qantas Kangaroo Route air service between London and Sydney from 1947; it was the first aircraft that enabled the airline to establish a long-range overseas air service in its own right; and it was the first Qantas aircraft to feature flight hostesses – and its journey to its new home will only add to that aura.
A Russian Antonov military cargo plane may be called in for a heavy lift, preferably to Darwin, where Tony dreams of a road transport recreation of the Qantas route between the northern capital and Longreach.
“We need to get it to Australia – it will be so much easier to join the dots and talk to potential investors,” he said.
The museum was the successful bidder for the aircraft, which had been grounded in Manila for 25 years after service with the United States Navy and the World Fish and Agriculture Inc, and had to be extracted from a muddy resting place.
Once in Longreach, it will be restored to appear as a late 1950s Qantas Super Constellation, with innovative interior displays forming the basis of another aircraft tour experience for visitors.
Each time a new aircraft exhibit is introduced to the collection – the Boeing 747 in 2002 and the Boeing 707 in 2007 – Qantas Founders Museum has seen an increase of 12 to 15 per cent in visitor numbers.
“Longreach, like much of western Queensland, is enduring one of the worst droughts in its history, but the restoration and launch of the Constellation will create jobs directly through the museum and indirectly through museum visitors staying in the region and requiring local services,” Tony said.
He appealed to businesses and individuals to assist the project with financial and in-kind support.
“Qantas Founders Museum is a not for profit organisation. We are a fully sustainable museum, with all profits going back into the museum and its exhibits. With a project this size, we need all the help we can get.”
To donate, contact the museum by phone on 07 4658 3737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.