Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific Airline and RPT Rumours & News in Australia, enZed and the Pacific


Old 3rd Sep 2021, 02:15
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: South Pacific
Posts: 859

When does something begin? With an idea, or the first action or acquisition, or when registering a name? For an airline, I believe it is when a pioneer acquires, and uses their first aircraft. Much has been written about the early pre-Qantas, when the founders were surveying landing strips in the Outback for an air race, and meeting a grazier who would back them to start an Outback air charter company, but Qantas did not start until their first aircraft flew.

50 years ago today, on 3rd. September 1971, Bevan Whitaker, an International Harvester truck and tractor dealer, acquired his first aircraft, a C182A Skylane, as an $8,ooo Trade-in on a truck and tractor deal with Peter Bambling. Since taking on the dealership in Rockhampton, together with the ones in Maryborough and Gympie, he would drive to Rockhampton on a Monday, spend a day there, and drive back to Maryborough with the truck delivery drivers. A day in the office in Maryborough, one in Gympie, and one taking the drivers to I.H. in Rocklea followed.
Then a truck owner, an Aero Club member, suggested he should fly in the Club's Cherokee 140 to Rockhampton and Archerfield instead of driving. He did that for six months before getting his first aircraft. Six months on, after the Chief Pilot's interview by his pilot, submitted Operations Manual and paperwork, and approval from D.C.A., Whitaker Air Charter began.

4 years later, (3 weeks after Gough's Dismissal !), after winning the race to build an airstrip at Noosa Heads against Snow Richards of UnionAir, the Commuter operation of morning and afternoon flights to and from Ansett Brisbane to bring in holidaymakers from the South, as NoosaAir commenced.

Later, with a change of Interline agreements to T.A.A., and a namechange to Sunstate Airlines, that Queensland airline became well known.
Amalgamation with Murray Valley Airlines, another Shorts operator, gave them a southern operation, and the MVA became Sunstate Mildura.

After 15 or so years, in 1987, Bevan sold Sunstate to Australian Airlines, but kept the charter company, Whitaker Air Charter, to service his resort on Lady Elliot Island, off Bundaberg, until it was taken over by another operator hailing from the Gold Coast.
With the Australian Airlines namechange to Qantas Domestic, and the Sunstate aircraft painted as QantasLink, they now fly Dash 8 throughout Queensland.

Bevan died last year. He won't be attending any anniversary celebrations, I wonder if any other old-timer pioneers of Whitaker Air Charter, NoosaAir, or Sunstate will get an invite to a Qantas do?
frigatebird is offline  
Old 6th Sep 2021, 06:57
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Infinity and beyond
Posts: 34
An interesting read... I initially thought it may have been "In the beginning..." or something about Phil Collins and the band..
buzzz.lightyear is offline  

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