Last updated 27 October 2019
COCOS ISLANDS AIRPORT

A pictorial history of this Indian Ocean island airport which played an important role in international air services

Compiled by Geoff Goodall

Qantas Lockheed Super Constellation VH-EAI "Southern Sun" being refuelled at Cocos Islands Airport circa 1957
operating the scheduled service between Sydney and Johannesburg.            Photo: Civil Aviation Historical Society

             The Cocos (Keeling) Islands, usually referred to as "Cocos Islands"or just "Cocos", is small Indian Ocean island group. The sociological history of the islands, the Malayan coconut plantation workers and the ruling British Clunies-Ross family makes fascinating reading. In 1955 British administration from Singapore ended and The Cocos (Keeling) Islands became Australian Territory.
             Cocos Islands' location halfway between Perth and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) resulted in a Cable Station being built in 1901 with telegraphic links to Perth, Ceylon, Batavia (Jakarta), Singapore and Mauritius via undersea cable. As one of the few populated islands across the northern Indian Ocean, its strategic importance for international air travel was recognised by pioneer Australian aviator Captain P.G.Taylor who lobbied the Government to finance an expedition to survey a flying boat route from Australia to East Africa and Britain in the event the existing route via Singapore was cut. His prediction was to prove correct when Singapore fell to Japanese attack in January 1942, however no action had had been taken on his recommendations to establish airline flying boat facilities in Western Australia and Cocos.
           
           P. G. Taylor's Indian Ocean survey flight in June 1939 was the first aeroplane to be seen at Cocos Islands. It was a Consolidated 28-3 flying boat, civil predecessor to the military PBY- Catalina series. NC777 named Guba was owned by Dr. Richard Archbold of New York and was in Sydney following an American Museum of Natural History Expedition in New Guinea.  Using his considerable personal influence, Captain Taylor negotiated to hire NC777 with its American crew for his Indian Ocean survey for which he would be the navigator.
           The epic expedition flew Sydney-Port Hedland-Batavia-Cocos Islands-Diego Garcia-Mahe, Seychelles-Mombassa, Kenya
At Cocos the flying boat was landed on a lagoon off Direction Island and Taylor spent a week surveying sites for flying boat operations and a land airfield.

First aircraft to visit Cocos was this Consolidated 28-3 flying boat NC777 "Guba"on an Indian ocean survey flight June 1939.
It is pictured at Williamstown boat harbour while visiting Melbourne the previous November to have its troublesome Sperry
auto-pilot serviced by Australian National Airways instrument technicians.           Photo: Civil Aviation Historical Society 

World War II:  Royal Air Force builds an airfield
            During the desperate evacuation of allied forces from the Netherlands East Indies ahead of Japanese advances, Dutch Navy (MLD) Catalinas flew to Ceylon where they formed RAF No.321 (Dutch) Squadron. In February 1942 an MLD Catalina bound for Ceylon carrying a remarkable 66 persons on board was forced to divert to Cocos seeking fuel. In June 1942 five MLD Catalinas which had reached Australia were ferried by their Dutch crews to Ceylon to join their colleagues in 321 Squadron. The five refuelled at Exmouth Gulf WA and three needed to land at Cocos Islands to take on more fuel.
           Qantas Empire Airways commenced its secret wartime Order of The Double Sunrise Catalina service Perth-Ceylon non-stop (average flight time 29 hours) in June 1943. The Indian Ocean crossing was done in radio silence and although passing close to Cocos Islands landing there was too great a risk from Japanese air patrols. Nevertherless four landings are recorded by the QEA Catalinas to drop off or collect military men or because of engine problems. On one of these visits in February 1944 QEA Catalina G-AGFL was caught on the lagoon by a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft which dropped several bombs which fell wide of their mark.

           Meanwhile British military wartime planning included a forward air base in the Indian Ocean to join the Allied bombing offensive against SE Asian Japanese installations. Cocos was selected as the best location, no doubt influenced by P.G.Taylor's survey report. In March 1945 a shipping convoy left India bound for Cocos carrying airfield construction equipment and a force of British and Indian army, navy and airforce personnel to build an airfield on West Island. The single runway had a Perforated Steel Planking (PSP) matting surface and the new airfield was named RAF Staging Post (Cocos Islands). RAF Liberator, Mosquito, Catalina and Spitfire units operated there.  A detachment of RAAF No.87 Squadron Mosquitos was based at Cocos during June 1945 for photo-reconnaissance missions over Singapore.  After V-J Day, British operations were withdrawn and the airfield was decommissioned by RAF in early 1946.

RAF Liberator bombers on the newy-constructed airfield at Cocos Islands in 1945.             Imperial War Museum


British and Indian Army troops worked in sweltering tropical conditions to construct the airfield. Note the Catalinas at rear.


RAF 1667 Flight Spitfire under assembly at Cocos 1945.                                                                  Imperial War Museum

Early post-war Qantas flights
          British Overseas Airlines Corporation and Qantas Empire Airways were anxious to reinstate their shared London-Sydney service cut by the war. The previous 9 day Short C Class "Empire"flying boat schedule could be reduced to a third of that time by using high speed Avro Lancastrians. The Lancastrian service commenced in June 1945, QEA crews flying Sydney-Gawler-Learmonth-Colombo-Karachi. The newly-built Cocos Islands airfield was a comforting alternate for the Indian Ocean crossing but was not a scheduled refuelling stop until January 1946 when routing changed to Karachi-Colombo-Cocos Islands-Perth-Gawler-Sydney.  QEA Liberators G-AGKT, G-AGKU and G-AGTI supplemented the Lancastrians with a Sydney-Perth-Cocos-Colombo return weekly schedule. This interim Indian Ocean route was scheduled to finish in April 1946 when war damage renovations allowed Qantas to resume the original Kangaroo route via Darwin and Singapore with more comfortable airliners. Tragically one of the final Lancastrian services was lost at sea inbound to Cocos. On 24 March 1946, G-AGLX under the command of highly experienced QEA Captain O.F.Y. Thomas lost radio contact and no trace has ever been found of the aircraft or the ten persons on board. 

The first weekly QEA Sydney-London service Avro Lancastrian G-AGLS (in RAF markings as VD328 callsign OKZS)
departs Sydney on 2 June 1945. The Lancastrians operated in RAF markings until the end of the Pacific war that
September after which they
were painted as BOAC civil aircraft.                           John Hopton Collection


Qantas  Empire Airways Liberator G-AGKT refuelling at Learmonth WA 1945.        Geoff Goodall collection

          After April 1946 the Cocos Islands airfield, buildings and installations were disused and left to deteriorate in the tropical weather.  However Qantas management in Sydney knew that Cocos was the key to their proposed Australia-South Africa service. A refuelling point midway across the Indian Ocean was essential for Lockheed Constellations to operate the route Sydney-Perth-Mauritius-Johannesburg.
            An initial route proving flight was conducted by Captain Lewis Ambrose in Lancastrian VH-EAS in November 1948, carrying a party of Qantas, DCA, MET and Shell Oil Co officials. Prior to the flight, senior QEA Captain R.B.Tapp was taken from Singapore to Cocos by RAF Sunderland flying boat to inspect the disused runway. He reported that the metal PSP matting was badly rusted with vegetation growing through and recommended the Lancastrian use the parallel taxiway which ran in front of the Tower building. Flight Navigator Jim Cowan later recalled:
             "When we did touch down at Cocos, as we hurtled down the narrow coral-paved taxiway I was sure we were going to strip our wingtip off against the old RAF Control Tower.  However there was plenty of room and our landing run was without incident. Our stay at Cocos proved a great experience because, with the total absence of staff or accommodation, we stayed at "Government House", the Clunies-Ross homestead on Home Island. That evening our Lancastrian party of 12 sat down with the Cable Station personnel as guests for a magnificent Indonesian curry repast served by a retinue of well-ordered servants. I remember the excited faces of the people outside peering through the open sash windows into the dining room. Next morning we watched a flotilla of 50 to 100 white-sailed dugout canoes sail off across the lagoon in various directions to commence the day's work in the vast coconut plantations that covered the islands.
              
The Lancastrian crew were taken by boat to the Cable Station on Direction Island to obtain the aviation weather forecast and transmit their flight plan for the next sector to Mauritius. While they refuelled the aircraft from 44 gallon drums using a hand wobble-pump, Captain Ambrose inspected the PSP runway and was satisfied it was safe to use.  VH-EAS departed that night with flares down each side of the runway.  The proving flight continued to Johannesburg for a week's talks with Government officials before returning to Sydney via Cocos, taking 81 flying hours, 29 hours at night. The Lancastrian and its Rolls Royce Merlins had performed flawlessly.

Airfield reconstruction 1951-1952
             By 1951 Qantas had finalised all the international agreements to allow it to commence the South African service. The Australian Government agreed to fund the upgrading of the Cocos Islands airfield to handle Qantas Lockheed Super Constellations. The strategic importance of an Australian airfield in the Indian Ocean for national defence was recognised and RAAF No.2 Airfield Construction Squadron was assigned the task.
             To assess the scope of work required, Qantas was chartered to carry a team of RAAF and DCA airfield construction officials to Cocos. The wartime runway was considered to be unserviceable so a Qantas Consolidated PB2B-2 Catalina flying boat VH-EBA was prepared for the flight.  Because aviation fuel was not available at Cocos, the route was Sydney (RoseBay)-Brisbane-Darwin-Djakarta-
Cocos-Djakarta-Australia, to allow sufficient fuel to be taken on at Djakarta for the return flight to Cocos. The Catalina departed Sydney on 25 May 1951 under the command of Captain Len Gey and remained at Cocos 30 May-12 June while the airfield survey was carried out.
             Later in 1951 the RAAF construction group with heavy earthmoving equipment was deployed to Cocos by sea from Perth to
West Island where 7,000 tons of equipment and supplies were manually unloaded by landing barges.

The abandoned RAF Tower bullding and taxiway photographed by the Catalina survey party in June 1951.             NLA


RAAF airfield construction crews at work 1951                                            Civil Aviation Historical Society


First aircraft to land during the airfield construction was Lancastrian VH-EAT on 1 February 1952, Captain John Morton. 
Qantas Heritage Centre



After the runway was completed, construction continued on taxiways, buildings and the many installations required for an
international airport. From March 1952 Qantas operated a fortnighty DC-4 charter Melbourne-Perth-Cocos-Singapore
return,
carrying personnel and supplies for the airfield construction group.                    Civil Aviation Historical Society

Cocos Islands Airport "The Aerial Crossroads of the Indian Ocean"
                 Airfield preparation was completed in July 1952. Qantas had passenger-handling and aircraft  refuelling facilities ready, DCA had an Aeradio (later renamed Flight Service Unit) communications centre in the renovated RAF Tower building plus airport fire fighting and rescue service, including a high powered sea rescue launch.  A proving flight for the long-planned Qantas Lockheed L.749 Constellation Australia-Cocos-Johannesburg service was made by Captain Ken Jackson in VH-EAD in late July, followed by the official launch of the unaugural passenger service which departed Sydney on 1 September 1952, again VH-EAD commanded by Captain Jackson. The aircraft returned to Sydney on schedule on 9 September, having taken 74 flying hours for the round trip
                 Shortly after, when the fortnightly DC-4 charter courier Perth-Cocos-Singapore return was discontinued, Qantas changed the route to a sheduled airline service Perth-Cocos-Djakarta-Singapore return, connecting with the South Africa service at Cocos.
                 Cocos Islands Airport settled down to a routine of transiting Qantas flights and occasional visiting aircraft making refuelling stops.

Lockheed L.749 Constellation VH-EAD flew the inaugural Qantas service to South Africa via Cocos in September 1952.
The passenger hostel can be seen in this view at Cocos.            Richard Harrington via Civil Aviation Historical Society


1950s Indian Ocean airline routes.                                                            Map courtesy Tony McGrath


During 1955 Qantas replaced the L.749s with L.1049C Super Constellations on the South African service.
Here passengers disembark from VH-EAI  "Southern Sun"on an early morning arrival at Cocos.    CAHS


Cocos Islands Airport passenger terminal in 1955. Note the circular ashtrays.                                                  NLA


Qantas traffic officers stationed on Cocos 1955: l-r Len Ellis, Ian Grant, Charlie Tapsall.           Photo: Charlie Tapsall


Qantas passenger hostel on Cocos airfield, able to accommodate a Super Constellation passenger load should an aircraft be
delayed by unserviceability or weather. The hostel included a kitchen and dining room.


The wartime RAF Tower building was renovated for the DCA Aeradio communications unit and MET. The original roof
Tower cab was removed. Here the windows are being boarded over in driving rain from an approaching cyclone.    CAHS


DCA airport fire appliance and ambulance on standby for an aircraft arrival.                            Alan Jenkins via CAHS


DCA Crash Boat C.A.62 in its maintenance shed by the beach.                             Civil Aviation Historical Society


During the 1950s fuel was shipped from Singapore in 44 gallon drums which were manually unloaded on to landing barges.
Photo by Alan Jenkins via CAHS



Stockpile of empty 44 gallon fuel drums circa 1956.                                        Alan Jenkins via CAHS


1960s fuel depot with modern electrical pump driven delivery of stocks of Avgas and Avtur.

1950s Cocos visitors

Bright red Mosquito VH-KLG refuelled 3 October 1953 en route Sydney-London to enter the London-Christchurch Air Race.
It was to be wrecked in a forced landing in Burma later that same day.  All air race competitors stopped at Cocos where they
were expedititiously handled by a RAF refuelling team sent from Singapore.                                   Photo: Max Mead


Royal Air Force Vickers Valetta visiting from Singapore mid 1950s.        Alan Jenkins via Civil Aviation Historical Society


Royal New Zealand Air Force Bristol Freighters circa 1956.                                           Alan Jenkins via CAHS


RAAF Avro Lincoln, probably on a medical emergency evacuation.                              Alan Jenkins via CAHS


Cocos had VIP visitors. In 1956 General Charles de Gaulle, future French President arrived in his personal Douglas C-54 9148.
The General, Madame de Gaulle and their party stayed overnight at the Qantas hostel.                  Alan Jenkins via CAHS


Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies ands his wife Dame Pattie were passengers on a Qantas service 1957.     NLA

 Enter South African Airways
            In November 1957 South African Airways (Sud Afrikaanse Lugdiens) was ready to take up its reciprocal rights to the Australian service using Douglas DC-7B equipment. An initial pooling arrangement with Qantas saw SAA introduce a fortnightly return service to Perthalternating with Qantas Super Constellations. SAA named the route The Wallaby Service to Australia.
           The number of itinerant flights was increasing as international airfreight grew.

South African Airways DC-7B at Cocos in the 1950s in the original blue and white scheme


Cocos 1960s: passengers wait to reboard their SAA DC-7B wearing the new SAA orange and white scheme


From 1956 Air Charter Ltd, London operated a weekly British Ministry courier between London and Woomera Rocket Range
 in South Australia, initially using Avro Tudor 4B Super Traders.  Most services routed via Singapore and Darwin, but when
required by weather or sensitive military cargo, they skirted Indonesia by flying Colombo-Cocos-Australia. Here Air Charter
Tudor G-AHNL is seen at Perth in December 1958 after arrival from Britain via Cocos.           Geoff Goodall collection.  


Cunard Eagle Airways took over the weekly Woomera courier in 1962 with Douglas DC-6Bs, which often refuelled at Cocos.
The following year the airline reformed as British Eagle and introduced Bristol Britannias on the Woomera contract
 

Monarch Airlines took over the Woomera courier in 1968 with Britannias, often routing via the Indian Ocean with refuelling
stops at Cocos or RAF Gan in the Maldives. Nigel Daw photographed G-ANCF at Adelaide on the courier run in April 1972.
The British Ministry courier to Australian was discontinued in December 1975 because of reduced Woomera projects.

1967: scheduled airline services end
            Qantas replaced their Super Constellations with Lockheed L.188 Electra turboprops on the Johannesburg route. The inaugural Electra service was flown by L188C VH-ECD departing Sydney on 27 April 1963. SAA continued with their DC-7Bs.
            During 1967 both Qantas and SAA introduced longer-range Boeing 707 jet airliners which could fly between Perth and Mauritius direct. This allowed Cocos Islands Airport to be dropped as an airline port and the removal of airline personnel, equipment and facilities at a significant cost saving. Qantas ended their Cocos in April 1967, SAA the previous month. Earlier, to cover a period of DC-7B unavailability, SAA leased Trek Airways Lockheed L.1649 Starliner ZS-DVJ to operate SAA Johannesburg-Perth services via Cocos between 7 May and 28 September 1965.

Qantas L188C Electra VH-ECD flew the inaugural Electra service Sydney-Perth-Cocos-Mauritius-Johannesburg in April 1963.
Ian McDonell collection



Trek Airways Lockheed L.1649 Starliner ZS-DVJ was leased for SAA services through Cocos during 1965.
This ultimate model of the Constellation range was photographed at Perth Airport in July 1965 by Merv Prime.

After the airlines - Cocos serves itinerant military and civil flights
               After April 1967 when the airlines no longer required Cocos, the Australian Department fo Civil Aviation continued to maintain the airport and its services. It was an important refuelling stop for many types of of civil and military aircraft crossing the Indian Ocean.

British freight airline Trans Meridian Douglas DC-7C G-AWBI at Cocos in 1968 on its way to Australia.          Colin Hayes


Swing-tail Canadair CL-44s were widely used freighters 1960s-70s and regular visitors to Cocos. Two examples seen at Perth
on such flights were Tradewinds G-AWGS in April 1970 and Cargolux TF-LLI in March 1972.            Geoff Goodall


Cargolux CL-44 TF-LLI prepares to depart Perth for Cocos on 24 March 1973.                                Geoff Goodall


RAF Far East Handley Page Hastings visited Australia from Singapore during the 1960s, often routing through Cocos.
WJ337 seen at Perth on 1 June 1968 departed for home RAF Changi via Cocos later that day.           Merv Prime    
       

RAF Britannia transports crossed the Indian Ocean to Australia usually via Cocos or RAF Gan in the Maldive Islands.
XM521 arrives Perth from Britain via Cocos on 16 February 1971.                Geoff Goodall


During 1968 Boeing EC-135N tracking aircraft operated from Cocos for the NASA Apollo space program to cover the Indian
Ocean
between ground tracking stations in Australia and Africa. Seen with a KC-135A tanker and C-141A support aircraft.
This and the next three photographs were taken by Colin Hayes


Boeing EC-135N 60-0327 departs Cocos at dusk for an Apollo space capsule tracking mission


Lockheed C-141A 66-0134 returns to Cocos from a supplies run to Guam


C-141A Starlifter 63-8089 in the original USAF all metallic finish

Cocos Islands Courier Service
             When the regular airline services ceased in 1967, the transfer of Government personnel and freight consignments of equipment and routine supplies from Australia had to be replaced.  A charter agreement was negotiated with the two domestic airlines Ansett-ANA (renamed Ansett Airlines of Australia the following year) and Trans-Australia Airlines to operate alternate fortnightly Melbourne-Perth-Cocos return flights for De-ANAparment of Civil Aviation and other Government departments. Equipment for the first two years was Douglas DC-4s.  However Ansett's remaining DC-4s were Cargomaster freighters, and many Ansett-ANA services were cross-hired to TAA.
             During 1969 the DC-4s were replaced by L.188 Electras of both airlines.
             From March 1971 a revised contract introduced fortnightly Boeing 727s Perth-Cocos-Perth. The previous charter leg to/from Melbourne was no longer needed.  This allowed the airlines to schedule the Cocos return flight between their regular B727 passenger services to Perth, a big improvement to productivity.  The first 727 charter to Cocos was operated by Ansett 's VH-RMD on 11 March 1971.

TAA's last passenger DC-4 VH-TAB on the Melbourne-Essendon passenger terminal apron in July 1968, almost certainly
being readied for another courier service to Perth and Cocos.                                 Photo by John Hopton    
                      


TAA Electra VH-TLC at Cocos circa 1970.                                                  TAA Museum


Ansett-ANA L188 Electra on the courier service 1970.                  John McMahon via Civil Aviation Historical Society


1960s airport staff and families welcome new arrivals on thefortnightly courier flight from Perth.

Life for airport staff
Thanks to Department of Civil Aviation radio technician Colin Hayes, we have these views of life on Cocos for airport staff and their families in 1968.  Airport operations also required DCA electrical technicians for electrical systems including runway lighting, mechanical technicians for mechanical equipment including emergency power generator diesels. DCA had staff for airfield maintenance and building work. Flight Service Unit,Airport Fire Service and Administrative staff also rotated on transfers from Perth.

DCA married staff housing in 1968, a big improvement on the early refurbished RAF crew barracks


DCA and MET families gather for their mail, just arrived on the fortnightly DC-4 from Perth


BarBQ picnic and social baseball match USAF & NASA versus DCA & MET. The Yanks won.


Swimming beach Cocos West Island

Into the 1980s: Cocos Island Animal Quarantine Station
                 The development of an animal quarantine station at Cocos brought a new category of visiting aircraft: specialist livestock charter operators delivering and collecting valuable breeding livestock and prize race horses. An enterprising Perth family saw an opportunity and formed Bloodstock Air Services Pty Ltd, acquiring a Boeing 727 freighter from USA in early 1983. VH-LAP, named Phar Lap after Australia's most famous race horse, could be quickly fitted with the pens and equipment required to carry livestock.  In the event the 727 had much more use as freighter leased for periods to TAA and Ansett before Bloodstock Air Services ran into financial difficulty and ceased operations in March 1984. The 727 was sold and returned to USA.
                A variety of international air freight operators flew Boeing 727s and DC-8s  between Cocos and Australia carrying livestock.

               Bloodstock Air Services, Perth operated Boeing 727-25F VH-LAP during 1983-84. Seenat Melbourne in April 1983.                      


Aer Turas DC-8-63CF taxies at Perth in February 1985 while operating a series of livestock charters from Cocos.


Oman Royal Flight Vickers VC-10 A4O-AB at Perth in March 1985. It departed for home via Cocos, no doubt in connection
with royal race horses under quarantine before competing at Australian race meetings.      These 3 photos by Geoff Goodall


Indian Ocean Territories Air Service contract
           The Australian Government contract fortnightly air service from Perth to Cocos operated by Ansett and TAA Boeing 727s was extended to Christmas Island in June 1974 when its airport was upgraded. Christmas Island to the north of Cocos was another British colony administered from Singapore which became Australian Territory in 1958. Christmas Island had been heavily mined for phosphate and now had an Indonesian-financed Casino attracting many charter flights from Singapore and Indonesia.
                
          The contract was now named Indian Ocean Territories Air Service. The triangular Perth-Cocos-Christmas-Perth Boeing 727 run usually departed Perth at midnight and had blocks of seats removed for emergency life rafts. A change came in June 1984 when the contract was awarded to Ansett WA which bid with Fokker F.28 Fellowships with refuelling stops at Learmonth WA. A year later the contract went to Australian Airlines (formerly TAA) until 1989 when it was awarded to a Darwin light aircraft charter company Amann Aviation which tendered with a leased Boeing 737. Amann was embroiled in controversy and was unable to operate an effective service, withdrawing in late 1989.  Ansett WA took over again, this time using their BAe146 airliners on a weekly service.

           More upheaval was ahead, when in July 1992 the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, a start-up Perth carrier established the previous year, Indian Ocean Airlines. A Lockheed L.188 Electra N351Q was acquired from USA and registered VH-IOB, but the Australian marking was never painted on the aircraft at Perth when costly maintenance issues delayed its Australian certification. At the same time the Civil Aviation Safety Authority was extremely reluctant to issue an Airline Operators Certificate to new-start company with modest operational support carrying passengers over oceanic routes in a 33 year old aircraft. Indian Ocean Airlines did not get their Electra into service andwere forced to sub-contract Ansett WA to operate on its behalf. The Government courier then reverted to Ansett WA which was fully integrated into Ansett Australia in 1993.  Experienced Bae.146 airline operator National Jet Systems was awarded the contract from January 1998 but only a year later it was changed to niche-operator SkyAirWorld in Queensland who were to use two Embraer190 jets but the company suffered a financial collapse before services commenced. The service reverted in April 2009 for another year to National Jet which had recently rebranded as Cobham Aviation. In 2010 the current operator Virgin Australia took over with Embraer 190s, later Airbus A320. The service is licenced as RPT allowing it to carry tourists to recently etablished holiday resorts on Cocos and Christmas Islands.  The Australian Government Detention Centre for illegal immigrants on Christmas island is served by separate air service contracts.

TAA and Ansett Boeing 727s at Perth Airport April 1972 while both were used on the Perth-Cocos contract.      


Ansett WA (formerly MMA) flew the Cocos-Christmas contract with F.28s and BAe146s. VH-JJP at Perth August 1985.


The ill-fated Indian Ocean Airlines Electra VH-IOB was repossessed and ferried back to USA as N351Q in December 1992.
Seen during a refuelling stop at Cairns, Queensland before setting out across the Pacific.    These 3 photos by Geoff Goodall


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Further relevant information can be found on this site at:
http://www.goodall.com.au/australian-aviation/civil-catalina-1/Civilcatalinas.html
http://www.goodall.com.au/australian-aviation/woomera-courier/woomeracourier.html

My thanks to Bob Livingstone, Colin Hayes, Tony McGrath. The Civil Aviation Historical Society, Airways Museum, Essendon again willingly shared their impressive photographic collection.  For readers seeking more detail on the history of Cocos and Christmas Islands and their air services, Tony McGrath's book In Tropical Skies published in 2019 is highly recomended:  www.tony-mcgrath.com



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