In Googling for the answer to another question I came across a photo of a Sunderland flying boat painted with Ryan Air livery. I'd no idea that any had lasted that long to get such a paint job. A bit more Googling found a page:
which gave the disappointing news that it was no longer airworthy sometime after 1993.
So I was wondering if anyone out there knew just how bad its condition is, and whether the owners (Fantasy of Flight Museum, Miami?) were crazy enough to contemplate a restoration to flight? All those years bobbing around on salt water can't have been kind to the hull...
Thanks for that link, a wonderful historic aircraft. Cabin service by Maureen o'Hara! I'm certain that Sunderland enthusiasts in New Zealand would leap at the opportunity to get her back and airworthy. They certainly have the expertise. Perhaps a phonecall to Peter Jackson would be enough, he surely has the loot. In the 1980s I landed at Dairy Flats North of Auckland, and a tall gentleman came to chat with me. Very modestly, he admitted he was a Sunderland pilot, so he almost certainly flew that very aircraft you cited. He then took me to see the single engine "Coot" amphibious flying boat he'd built and still flew. I've forgotten his name, but he'll be well know at Dairy Flats even today. They also had much of DH Dove under a tarpaulin. Imagine an airworthy Sunderland bobbing in Auckland Harbour. C'mon you Kiwis!
I was last there in 2004, and the Sunderland was parked up inside the hanger, getting lots of TLC. Kermit Weeks and his team really look after their aircraft, with very few left outside at the mercy of the Florida weather.
BTW Fantasy of Flight is close to Orlando, and not Miami, so you can visit the Mouse as well as see old aircraft!
The New Zealanders have a Sunderland and a Solent parked outside the MOTAT museum in Auckland already and it would indeed be great to see one sitting at anchor in the harbour, but I feel our dreams would be just that!!
At least both the machines are in reasonable shape and being looked after. I visited them in February.
I recall seeing its sistership, VP-LVE (ex VH-BRC) of Antilles Air Boats making a surprise flypast at the St Mawgan airshow in 1976. What a lovely sight and sound. That aircraft is now on display at the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton I believe.
Excellent news about MOTAT! So it's easy then, all we need is a reasonable film script involving a Sunderland, and somebody to slip into Peter Jackson's hand. I've seen what's going on at Blenheim airfield, and am thrilled, (having flown there), plus its history. And PJ has a hand in those restoration projects. Any budding script-writers here? Lets start a script off... Rollicking South Seas adventure...
VH-BRC is alive and well and on display in the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton. I work there most weekends and if anyone from the forum wants a personal tour, including the flight deck, give me a PM.
For 69 years old, the old lady is looking in remarkably good condition and is the only Sunderland or Sunderland variant (its a Sandringham) where the public are allowed (but controlled) onto the flight deck.
Aviation art. Acrylic on stretched canvas 61cm x 76cm (24" x 30"). VH-BRF in Ansett colours departing Lord Howe Island. The last flight form the island was in 1974. An airport now caters for a regular Dash 8 service from Australia.
I was at the museum in about 2004, and from what I recall, the Sunderland was airworthy at the time.
I must forward those conversion pictures to Mechta Senior, as he started his aviation career at Shorts in Rochester just after the war, converting Sunderlands to their various civilian versions. Being in that tail cone with a riveting dolly is what he blames for his current need for a hearing aid!
My (now deceased) Dad spent part of his childood at a farm called Dalminnach near Stranraer. He used to tell me how he loved to see the Sunderland on a take off, getting faster, higher in the water, exposing the step in the keel as she finally broke free into the air.
He had a special reason to be thankful for them. His evacuation ship a liner caloed Volendam was torpedoed on its way to Canada, 300 miles off Ireland. A tanker Brought them back to the Clyde, one morning on deck, he saw a Sunderland - probably from Wig Bay - break through the clouds to I guess give the ship ASW cover on her way home.
He loved the Sunderland for that. And for that reason, so do I.
In December 1973 I purchased a on day return ticket from Rose Bay (Sydney Australia) to Lord Howe Island. The aircraft I flew over on I am pretty sure was BRC. The lower cabin was divided into compatments with seats facing each other (club seating). On the way over Captain Lloyd Maundrell had to shut an engine down so we I got to spend a night on Lord Howe Island as BRF would fly over the next morning with an engineer, spares and return stranded passengers to Sydney. BRF was in normal airline configuration both downstairs and upstairs. So as a result I got to fly in both aircraft and visit the flight decks of each. I must say that the experience gave me a fair idea of the era during which the early Sunderlands/Sandringhams operated. They were still using a sextant to navigate aswell even though the Sydney NDB (I think Glenfield) had a range of around 200 miles in those days.
You've got one (make that two) up on me tho' you lucky bugger.
I spent a year in the hangar metal-basher on the conversion of BRF but all my requests and hints for a berth on BRC (the only serviceable boat after BRE was written off at Lord Howe, and before BRF came on line), were met with stoney shake of head by the big boss Stewart Middlemiss.
Did you know that the late Bryan Monkton who bought five Sunderlands from Rathmines in 1946 once just for the heck of it took one of his boats up for a jolly all on his own? In his book 'The Boats I Flew' he tells how he cast off and later picked up the mooring single-handed. Reminds me of an ACE Connie 749 freighter that came into Perth Airport in WA in '64. POB one only. Still hard to believe.
My daughter was allowed to go up and sit in the wheelhouse of the old PG Taylor Sandringham (Frigate Bird 111) at Le Bourget last month.
She was blown up against the Concorde in a big gale and is now in hangared and completely stripped out awaiting refurbishment. (Not the daughter)
Someone told me the overalls on your dummies have the later blue ANSETT on the back of them which would not be quite authentic. My old white overalls have AFBS embroided on the back in red.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Kermit Weeks's Sunderland/Sandrinham at Fantasy of Flight and saw the famous BOAC Solent in the Pool of London as a very small boy (me, not the Solent) with my father in 1956. I recently came across some pictures that showed that Kermit's aircraft, and at least one of the boats at MOTAT, had the two port throttle knobs colored red and the two starboard ones colored green, presumably echoing the traditional port/starboard colors. Other images of Sunderland/Sandringham/Solent cockpits show single color, and I cannot recall ever seeing this in any other cockpit picture of any other type. Can anyone explain?
Thank you, Corsairoz! You must have a very interesting job.
Actually, this picture in some ways deepens my puzzlement, because I thought we were just dealing with red and green, but now we have orange and black thrown in for good measure! Do you know if they are original or replacement? Even the mixture knobs seem in this picture to have "weathered" down through a colored coating to a black base material, or is the other way round?
I am away from the aircraft now so am relying on memory.... I'll check next time I am on the flight deck next Saturday. (Any PPRuNe members want a personal tour of her?)
The material is different. The throttle 'balls' if I remember right are some form of acrylic material, maybe even bakelite type plastic, probably replaced at sometime all different colours. I have never looked too closely at the material.
The mixture 'balls' are wooden with most of the paint rubbed off but left and right pairs are same original colour of red and green.
Probably impossible to ever know if and when either sets were replaced. My complete guess would be that the more weathered Mixture 'balls' are original, while the throttle 'balls' were replaced sometime in the aircrafts long life (from 1943 - 1980). Most likely time would be at conversion Sunderland to Sandringham and possibly at the specification of TEAL (Tasman Empire Air Lines), the original purchasers of the conversion in 1947.
A possible theory might be that the 4 colours could be explained in an 'idiots guide to sea taxi', where Orange and Black are set to idle (or shut off) and Red and Green are used for differential thrust steering....
The Sunderland was the first aicraft I flew in. During a two week CCF summer camp at Pembroke Dock in 1953 I managed to cram in 8 flights lasting from 2 to 10 hours. On one trip we landed in Belfast Harbour to pick up spares from Short Brothers. It was the only occasion I stepped ashore directly from the aircraft. With almost 50 hours over the Western Approaches I became a dab hand with a primus stove!