Posted by: Gregoryno6 | November 13, 2014

Melbourne is a city that loves its old planes.

As I posted a few days ago, there’s a major restoration project underway in Werribee. Over there on the western side of Melbourne a group of volunteers is slowly bringing a WW2 vintage Liberator back to original condition.

Deano’s story reminded me of an air museum that used to stand on the grounds of Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne’s southeast. It was a pretty spartan setup when I visited there as a boy. Nothing was under cover. This was the home of the Australian Aircraft Restoration Group, and I had vague memories of a newspaper report that suggested the group had split or disbanded. It was obviously a shoestring operation and I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had faded away.

Memory and surmise were both in error. The AARG is now the owner of the Australian National Aviation Museum. Still based at Moorabbin, the Museum is home to more than fifty aircraft. Or parts thereof, anyhow.

The current major project is the restoration of a Bristol Beaufort. The Beaufort was a British design, but the RAAF used it to great effect in the Pacific theatre as a sea patrol craft and a bomber. The Museum has a page dedicated to the project, with a short clip on the Beaufort’s history, here.

Click on the pic for link to a detailed history of the Beaufort.

Click on the pic for link to a detailed history of the Beaufort.

In the 2010 documentary The Battle of Britain Ewan McGregor and his RAF pilot brother Colin visit a workshop dedicated to the restoration of old planes at Biggin Hill, a major RAF base during WW2. They even fly a fully restored Spitfire. The planes being restored at Moorabbin aren’t likely to reach that standard, but the work serves a valuable purpose nevertheless:

Over the years the Moorabbin Air Museum has been recognised by a number of awards, the most prestigious of which was a Certificate of Merit in the 1985 Museum of the Year Awards. Apart from the preservation of aircraft, the Museum’s other great accomplishment has been the number of young members who have gone on to careers in aviation or museology; the experience gained while at the Museum standing them in good stead in their working lives.

Next time I’m in Melbourne.


  1. A great Post on great times when we still had great people and the World still offered greatness for excellence. How far have we wandered of the path?

    On 11/13/14, The mind is an unexplored country.

    • There’s still greatness, Ike. Not politically, perhaps, but technologically we have made incredible progress even in the fifty years since I was born.
      It’s harder to see because the old engineering marvels were big. Today, the aim is smaller and more powerful. I read somewhere that the first computers had memory capacity about the same as the memory required to play a tune on a mobile phone. From hundreds of vacuum tubes down to a chip you can hold in your hand…

  2. The Moorabbin Air Museum is also home to a magnificent RAAF DAP Beaufighter

    • Thanks, Deano. I visited the Museum of Flying at Santa Monica airport last year; impressive as it is, from the photos I’d say that ANAM would make Santa Monica envious.

      • Just went to the Museum of Flying this past weekend. I was impressed with all the Douglas stuff they had there

        • As I recall the airport was part of the old Douglas factory. Good to know that someone appreciated the true historical value of all that potential scrap metal. A former boss couldn’t even save a bicycle that dated from the company’s earliest days. But that’s a story for another time.
          I’m pretty sure that one of the planes in the collection was the backdrop in an early Gina Elise calendar. The pic made an appearance in Bruce Willis’s movie RED.

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