New Aviation Museums are a rare thing in recent times, given the economic conditions and competing priorities for available resources so the establishment of a new Museum is a newsworthy event.
The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) is in the process of setting up the Parkes Aviation Museum as an offshoot of HARS and has had a presence in Parkes NSW since 1975 when it began storing excess aircraft material. The storage facility is consolidated at the huge former Austop site and is being used to store vast holdings of Aviation parts and materials.
As a sign of HARS ongoing commitment to Parkes there has been an effort made to create a Museum at the historic Parkes aerodrome. In 2015 a decision was made to set up the Aviation Museum with support and assistance from the Parkes Council and the Parkes Regional Airport. At present the Museum is housed in a portion of one of the historic WWII Bellman hangars on the airport.
HARS has a large and rapidly growing collection of aircraft at its Albion Park facility at Illawarra Airport and is running short of space so it is a natural evolution of the Society to establish other venues to display their collection and rotate exhibits.
The Museum currently contains several aircraft, including a North American AT 6 Harvard, Bell AH-1 Huey Cobra, De Havilland DHC-4 Caribou (A4-275), De Havilland DH.114 Heron (finished to represent VH – AHB, previously VH NJI) and Convair 580 (VH-PDW), GAF Jindivik (A92-22) and Lockheed 12 Electra Junior for display. HARS members are currently working to relocate a Lockheed P2V Neptune to Parkes. The Convair has just arrived at the Museum and recently a working party of HARS volunteers and local HARS members formed a working party to move the aircraft into position at the Museum as well as clean out the hangar and rearrange the exhibits.
A group of students from Parkes High School are also assisting the Museum, working with HARS volunteers to restore a GAF Jindivik (A92-22) and Lockheed 12 Electra Junior for display as well as repainting sections of the Caribou for assembly. The students are gaining valuable work experience and learning the basics of the Aviation industry and HARS have received much positive feedback from the students and the school.
At present the Museum is housed in a portion of one of the historic WWII Bellman hangars on the airport. Parkes has a long history in aviation, the first aircraft to land at Parkes was a Sopwith Camel piloted by aviation pioneer Sydney Pickles in 1919.
During WWII, Parkes airport became RAAF Base Parkes, accommodating No.1 Air Navigation School, No.2 Wireless Air Gunners School, No.8 Operational Training Unit and after the war No.87 SQN operated from Parkes.
HARS anticipates that the Museum will grow significantly in the coming years and become a major attraction for the region. At present the Museum is open on Thursday and will be expanding to include Sunday. The Parkes Aviation Museum is located at the end of Muzycuk Drive at Parkes Airport. Visitors are encouraged to stop by and have a look through the exhibits, including a collection of engines on display which is very interesting.
© John Parker 2017