Warbirds Online is pleased to announce that we have recently been involved in the ‘Heritage Disposal’ tender of 6 RAAF DHC-4 Caribou aircraft with the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre (QLD) Inc. (also operating as the Beaufort Restoration Group) which has secured preferred tender status on Caribou A4-228. This means that the AAHC Inc., in company with the successful tenderers on the other 5 aircraft, is currently in negotiations with the Commonwealth for the purchase and acquisition of the aircraft, which should be finalized in the next month. The aim is for the Caribou to join DAP Beaufort A9-141 and the other historic aircraft at Caboolture by the end of June 2016.
Planning is already in place to dismantle, transport and relocate the Caribou aircraft to the hangar at Caboolture Qld. The other aircraft involved are A4-231, A4-299, A4-275, and A4-225 at Oakey Qld and A4-204 at Brisbane airport. The aircraft have all found historic organization homes and will be preserved as complete airframes.
The Commonwealth has been very cooperative throughout the process and we have been very impressed with the communication flow and the determination to have these aircraft find permanent homes with historic organizations.
The Caribou aircraft going to AAHC Qld Inc. is A4-228, a very historic aircraft in its own right, being delivered to the RAAF in June 1965. The “Bou” served in PNG 38 Sqn Det “A” 1973 and was involved in various incidents and flew trials on 02/07/73 to determine single engine absolute ceiling performance for the type in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) area.
A4-228 was often utilized as an airshow demonstration aircraft on its return to Australia and we were treated to a particularly spirited display at Nowra in the early 1990s and again at Avalon Airshow in 1992. It was quite something to see the Caribou performing its trademark ”wheelbarrow” with the nose wheel running along the runway with the main gear still airborne.
At Six Mile Reservoir near Noosa Qld on 14/04/93 A4-228 was conducting a STOL trainer exercise when it impacted with a tree damaging the left wing. The damage was repaired and the aircraft continued in service throughout Australia and the Pacific. A4-228 was well known for the assistance it provided in times of natural emergency flying in relief supplies and personnel as only a Caribou can. It was also the first military aircraft the Warbirds Online editor flew on as a school cadet at Singleton NSW, so this aircraft has a particular resonance with us.
A4-228 was the 1st Caribou to be placed into long term storage at Oakey QLD on 13/05/09 after 44 years in service and was one of 7 Caribou aircraft involved in a failed disposal sale in 09/2011. Subsequently in November 2015 a request was reissued by Aus Tender for Expressions of Interest from Australian Historical Organizations for the disposal of 6 Caribou aircraft located at Oakey and Eagle Farm. The 7th aircraft A4-195 will be remaining at Oakey, joining the Museum of Army Flying.
Caribou A4-228 is in very good shape to be restored to static condition display standard – the aircraft cannot be flown again as a condition of tender and will be an excellent addition to the great collection growing steadily at Caboolture.
On 15 March 2016 a preferred tenderer day was held at Oakey so that all of the groups involved in the process could get together to be briefed on the next stages of the process and discuss the dismantling and transport of the aircraft to their new homes. It was a very positive day and the degree of cooperation amongst the groups in assisting each other was very pleasing to see. We feel it is best at this stage to allow all of the other preferred tender Historic organizations to announce who they are along with the details of the aircraft they have been allocated as a preferred organization. The aircraft are not the property of the individual groups until the contracts are signed.
If any Caribou ex-service crews would like to assist the groups in the dismantling and transport of the aircraft they would be very welcome to participate. The aircraft will be broken down into their major sub-assemblies for transport & anybody with expertise in that area is welcome to contact Warbirds Online and we will arrange for you to be included in the teams working on the aircraft. The operation at this stage is scheduled to commence at the start of June 2016 and be concluded by the end of that month. Assistance from any other skilled aircraft volunteers is also welcome.
Each group is responsible for dismantling and transport of their aircraft & whilst at this stage AAHC Qld Inc. have covered the costs associated with this task we would welcome any financial or in kind assistance to cover the significant transport costs associated with this venture. You can contact AAHC via Email or Telephone (07) 5495 4951 or (07) 54280567.
© John Parker 2016