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Last Flying Boat Left In Australia To Return To Whitsundays

By Paige Miller

Get ready for a big dose of nostalgia as the last flying boat left in Australia gets set to return to the Whitsundays for three days only.

Air Whitsundays will offer three tour options on the Grummond Mallard aircraft out to the Whitsunday Islands and over the Great Barrier Reef.

“The aircraft is coming down from Darwin,” director Trent Brown said.

“(Paspaley Pearls) use the aircraft for servicing their pearl farms.

“It actually used to be operated by Air Whitsunday back in the 1980s.”

Mr Brown, whose company GSL Aviation recently acquired Air Whitsunday, said this particular “queen of flying boats” was built in 1947.

He said the mode of transport was once popular in Australia with Qantas using them for flights to Europe in the 1930s.

A Qantas in-flight magazine from January 1984 which explains more about the history of flying boats, and the Mallard operations in the Whitsundays back in the 80s. Picture: Contributed

A Qantas in-flight magazine from 1984 stated Air Whitsunday’s former owners Kevin and Sue Bowe had imported two of the flying boats from Canada in 1983 to “revive Australia’s romantic flying boat days.”

“Such aircraft were hard to find as relatively few were ever built and production had ceased around 1950,” the article stated.

“Obviously excited at the prospect, Kevin explained his plans, ‘In a way we will be turning back the aviation clock to the era of those splendid old Empire flying boats. Just imagine aerial touring the reef by day, lunching in lagoons, swimming off sand pits, or just lazily casting a line from a coral cay’.”

The Grumman Mallard when it was registered as VH-JAW and operated by Air Whitsunday after bringing the aircraft into Australia in 1983. Picture: Contributed

Mr Brown said the former Air Whitsunday aircraft was now the last flying boat left in Australia.

“As a commercial aircraft, it’s still one of the best for flying long distances and carrying a payload,” he said.

“And because the hull lands in the water, they’re better in rough seas than seaplanes.”

Air Whitsunday’s tours will run from April 23 to 25 and include three options ranging from an overhead flight to a stopover on the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach coupled with a three-course meal.

Source: Whitsunday Times

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