Last update 22.2.16          

DE HAVILLAND DHA-3 DROVER

Production listing compiled by Geoff Goodall



 


      Heading pictures: 

- Drover VH-EBQ (c/n 5003), the third aircraft built, on roll-out from the Bankstown factory in 1950 prior to delivery to Qantas for New Guinea internal services.  Photo: The Collection

- The role in which the Drover is best remembered was with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in outback Australia.  Drover Mk.3A VH-FDC (c/n 5013) delivers a stretcher patient to a waiting ambulance at Broken Hill NSW. The Mk.3A had Lycoming engines and other improvements including dihedral tailplane. Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


                    At the end of World War Two, De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Sydney (referred to as DHA) was completing wartime RAAF Mosquito orders and looking for a new design to build for the post-war civil market. The general concept was a single-pilot utility transport for 8 passengers as a replacement for the many DH.84 Dragon biplanes in use in Australia. It was to be of simple rugged construction with fixed undercarriage suitable for Outback operations on rough airstrips, with low-powered 145hp DH Gipsy Major 10 Mk.2 engines, which were in plentiful supply.

                  The new aircraft was the DHA-3 Drover, and Chief Designers Bill Downes and Martin Warner acknowledged the parent company’s DH.104 Dove design provided the stressed skin construction concept from which the Drover evolved. However the construction and dimensions were not the same, Downes writing " the mainplane resembled that of the DH-104 in principle, however on close examination it differed in every detail.”  Work on building the first prototype VH-DHA began at DHA’s plant at Bankstown Airport, Sydney and was first flown on 23 January 1948 by company test pilot Brian Blackjack Walker.  A second prototype VH-BMU was completed and soon initial orders seemed promising, even if influenced by Australian Government support for local indsutry:

2 for Department of Civil Aviation
6 for Trans Australia Airlines  (Government-owned domestic airline)
7 for Qantas Empire Airways  (Government was a shareholder)
3 for Commonwealth Department of Health – Northern Territory Medical Service
1 for Royal Flying Doctor Service (NSW Section), Broken Hill

              The DCA Drovers, based in Melbourne and New Guinea, were used to transport Departmental personnel. The others were Dragon replacements, TAA ‘s Drovers being used on western Queensland remote mail runs and Royal Flying Doctor Service contracts at Charleville and Cloncurry, while Qantas based theirs in Papua New Guinea for passenger and freight. TAA had initially used its first aircraft VH-DRA for a short time on the Townsville-Cairns extension to the mainline coastal route from southern cities, commencing 19 December 1950, replacing a TAA Lockheed Lodestar. Royal Flying Doctor Service in NSW and Northern Territory Medical Service in NT also replaced their Dragons with new Drovers.

Unhappy early days

               The early years of Drover operations were not happy times. Qantas was unimpressed with their takeoff and climb performance in the New Guinea Highlands, and initial teething problems associated with any new type. The first hint of serious problems ahead came in July 1951 when Qantas Drover VH-EBQ ditched in the sea inbound to Lae, New Guinea with the loss of the Captain and six passengers.  Initially blamed on pilot-error for continuing VFR flight in low cloud and rain, but later investigation established that a propeller blade on the centre engine had suffered a structural failure and broke away, pulling the engine out of its mountings in flight.

              DHA was aware of airframe vibrations experienced in flight with the prototype Drovers, and conducted extensive test flying during 1948/49 with the first two aircraft VH-DHA & VH-BMU. Different propellers, including a wooden model, were installed and technicians used sensitive equipment to conduct in-flight stress-analysis of engine/propeller vibration. Unfortunately, the chosen airscrew, the De Havilland PD 80/2 M1/1 two bladed electrical-operated variable pitch metal propeller, proved to be the Drover's Achilles heel.

              While the cause of the propeller failure in VH-EBQ was still being considered by DCA and DHA, in April 1952 came the shock report that the DCA Drover VH-DHA had lost a blade of the port propeller and ditched in the Bismark Sea, 100 miles from Wewak. The blade had sheered off and penetrated the cockpit, severely injuring the pilot’s foot. The Drover sank, but the three occupants were rescued by a Qantas Catalina, which landed on the sea in the lee of an island to collect them. DCA implemented restrictive requirements for propeller inspections.  Further unwelcome confirmation of propeller structural failure came in September 1952 when Qantas was ferrying VH-EBS from New Guinea to Sydney for overhaul, with just the pilot on board. While commencing the takeoff roll after a refueling stop at Mackay, Queensland, a propeller blade of the centre engine sheared off, the out-of-balance forces pulling the engine out of its mountings.  The pilot managed to stop the aircraft on the runway without further damage.

             DCA issued a grounding order for all existing Drovers, now designated Drover Mk.1. To get them back in the air, DCA agreed to a DHA proposal to replace the DH Variable Pitch propellers with Fairey-Reed metal fixed-pitch propellers at DHA’s expense. This commenced right away, and the model was designated Drover Mk.1F. In December 1952 DCA issued new load charts to operators to standardise loading limits for the Drover 1Fs. Not surprisingly, without V-P propellers, flight performance suffered. DHA had been working on a solution, and during 1953 offered owners a modification kit of double-slotted flaps. These were found to restore performance to a reasonable level, and this model became the new standard, designated Drover Mk.2. Progressively modified, Drover Mk.2s settled back into airline and flying doctor service.

             Qantas declined to accept the final two of its order for new aircraft VH-EAX & EAY, which went into storage at the DHA works. Eager to divest itself of the last of its Drovers operating in New Guinea, Qantas offered them to Fiji Airways as DH.89 Rapide replacements.  Five were shipped to Fiji where they were found to be ideal for low-level flights carrying passengers and freight between the islands.

             TAA handed its Drovers over to RFDS ownership in 1959, although the airline coninued to operate and maintain them on a contract basis for the RFDS. This made the RFDS the largest operator of the type. Talks had begun with DHA to improve the DHA-3 using modern American engines, resulting in DHA designing the Drover Mk.3 with the 145hp Gipsy Majors replaced by three 180hp Lycoming 0-360s and other modifications. The RFDS NSW Section at Broken Hill was first to send their two Drovers to Sydney for rebuilding as Mk.3s. VH-FDA went first in May 1959, and was first flown with Lycomings at Bankstown on 30 September 1959. Extensive test flying for certification followed, and it was not until June 1960 that it was handed back to RFDS (NSW Section) painted in a new green and white scheme with red crosses.

             RFDS Queensland Section followed by progressively sending their five surviving Drovers to DHA at Bankstown to be upgraded to Mk.3, and changing their registrations to the VH-FD series used by other RFDS sections. In general, the re-engining with higher-powered Lycomings was a success. The improved performance of the Drover Mk.3s allowed the RFDS Queensland Section to widen their bases to Mount Isa and Charleville. To improve longitudinal stabillity on flight , DHA designed a modification which extended the horizontal tailplane by 24 inches and giving it a 14 degree dihedral. This was designated Drover Mk.3A, and in 1962 the two Broken Hill flying doctor aircraft were again the first to be rebuilt. The following year DHA responded to requests to increase the payload by modifications that resulted in an increase in Maximum All Up Weight from 6,500 pounds to 6,800 pounds. This final modification was designated Drover Mk.3B

Mk.1 145hp Gipsy Major 10 Mk.2 1948 DH Manual Variable-Pitch propellers
Mk.1F " 1952 Fairey-Reed metal fixed-pitch propellers
Mk.2 " 1953 Mk.1F fitted with double-slotted flaps. MAUW 6,500 lbs
Mk.3 180hp Lycoming 0-360-A1A 1959 Hartzell constant-speed feathering propellers. MAUW 6,600 lbs
Mk.3A " 1962 Horizontal tailplane given a 14 degree dihedral and tailplane span extended by 12 inches each side
Mk.3B " 1963 MAUW increased to 6,800 pounds, providing higher payload and increasing the Centre of Gravity range to assist loading


           The Australian company De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd was renamed Hawker De Havilland (Australia) Pty Ltd in February 1963. This followed the merger between De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd and Hawker Siddeley Group in Britain.  Later corporate changes and take-overs resulted in other name changes. The current operating name is Boeing Aerostructures Australia Pty Ltd.

Prototype Drover VH-DHA over the De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd factory at Bankstown Airport, Sydney 1948. Photo: Ben Dannecker collection



Later island-hopping era

                   By 1967 the Flying Doctor Drover era was coming to an end. Queensland Section negotiations with TAA for a Drover replacement resulted in orders placed in April 1967 for Beech Queen Airs. This continued the association between DHA, TAA and RFDS because Hawker De Havilland (Australia) Pty Ltd were Australian Beechcraft agents. The first former TAA Queen Air A80 VH-TGD was handed over to RFDS at Bankstown on 4 June 1967. The RFDS NSW Section, which was independently managed and financed, selected the Beagle 206, and traded in their two Drovers VH-FDA & FDC against two new Beagles in September 1967.

                  The next chapter of Drover commercial service took place in the Pacific islands group, The New Hebrides (now Vanuatu). Here an Australian planter Bob Paul had established New Hebrides Airways, and after commencing with a Rapide, standardised on Drovers which he found perfect for his low level island hopping routes. A total of six Drovers were operated by New Hebrides Airways, renamed Air Melanesiae. However the Drovers were plagued by inadequate brake systems.  A number of accidents were caused by brakes failing or binding, causing violent ground-loops and aircraft running off strips. On most occasions, Hawker De Havilland sent maintenance teams from Sydney to repair each aircraft on site.

                  By the 1970s, the final Australian commercial use of the now-aging Drovers was flying passengers and supplies to islands just off the coast. In Perth, from July 1970 Murchison Airlines flew Mk.3 VH-FDS on high frequency 12-minute legs to Rottnest Island, a popular holiday location. Up to 8 return flights were flown each day during summer, offering reduced fares for passengers who joined the Mur-Bird Club. Despite the success of this innovative operation, it was discontinued when Trans West Air Charter took over Murchison and the Drover was sold. In Queensland holiday-makers were flown to island tourist resorts by a variety of Drover operators.

                  Adelaide saw the Drover’s final airline use, when associated third level airlines Coveair and IslandAir operated Drover Mk.3Bs VH-EOO & VH-FDU on scheduled services to Kangaroo Island and other SA towns. The former was retired in March 1974 when the cost of a mandatory wing spar inspection was deemed uneconomical. VH-FDU continued in service until May 1976 when it was retired during a company financial restructure and later sold.

                 The surviving Drovers flying in Australia are in the hands of enthusiasts who appreciate the history of this unique trimotor.

                 TAA Captain Harry Moss had extensive experience flying Dragons and Drovers with the NT Medical Service.  He later wrote in typical laconic style of their first Drover, a Mk.1:     "VH-AZN was a nice aircraft to fly and had plenty of control below the stalling speed, but, like others of the series, it lacked stability and had to be watched all the time. Otherwise it was likely to wander around the sky, and then turn around and go home. The reason of course was that it was too heavy for the small engines employed, or inversely, was underpowered. As, however, the small engines did not guzzle up vast quantities of fuel, the fuel range or endurance was good."

                  Only 20 DHA-3 Drovers were built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney over a 9 year period. Due to delays in production, later aircraft were not completed in sequential order.

This listing of total production is presented in order of constructor’s number, 5001 to 5020:


C/n 5001                         Mk. 1 Prototype                              Clifford Peel                                                                       VH-DHA, (VH-CAU)

.47/48 Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5001
.47 Ordered by Department of Civil Aviation, Melbourne Vic
27.10.47 DHA wrote to DCA requesting registration VH-DHA be reserved for the first Drover
20.1.48 DHA quoted construction date
23.1.48 Registered VH-DHA De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW
23.1.48 First flight Bankstown, pilot Brian R. Walker.
(Brian "Blackjack" Walker was an ex RAAF pilot who joined De Havilland at Bankstown in 1945 as test pilot, initially on the Mosquito production)
23.1.48 CofA issued by DCA inspector A. H. Affleck, referred to as "special Interim CofA".
DH Gipsy Major T Mk.10 engines with DH Variable Pitch propellers
28.1.48 DCA wrote to DHA: "Departmental personnel are not to act as crew or passengers during preliminary flight trails of the DHA-3"
27.2.48 DHA advise DCA that 10 hours of test flying has been completed and request approval to carry technicians and airline pilots during further test flights. Approved.
29.5.48 visited Fishermans Bend, Melbourne, Commonwealth Aircraft Corp's airfield
28.10.48 Arrived at RAAF Laverton Vic for performance evaluation by ARDU (Aircraft Research & Development Unit) on behalf of DCA
11.11.48
Pilot log: local flight Laverton, S/L Cuming and S/L Jim Rowland
12.11.48 Taken on charge by RAAF, "on loan from De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd"
19.11.48
Pilot log: local flight Laverton, S/L Jim Rowland, observer Bill Downes
23.11.48
Local flight Laverton. S/L Jim Rowland formatted on Drover in RAAF Auster Mk.3
17.12.48
Pilot log: local flight Laverton, S/L Jim Rowland, observers Martin Warner and Mr. Fitchett
19.12.48
Pilot log: Laverton to Bankstown S/L Jim Rowland. Returned to DHA for Christmas period
13.1.49
Pilot log: Wagga-Laverton, S.L Jim Rowland, return to ARDU from DHA
23.6.49 Returned to De Havilland Aircraft on completion of tests by ARDU
7.10.49 DHA quoted Delivery Date to Dept of Civil Aviation
7.10.49 Weighed at Bankstown for load distribution calculations for issue of normal category CofA
10.10.49 VH-DHA at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney ready for handover to DCA
10.10.49 Change of ownership: Department of Civil Aviation, Melbourne Vic
14.10.49 Normal category CofA issued
15.10.49 Ferried Bankstown-Essendon Airport, Melbourne on delivery to DCA
49/50 Based Essendon with DCA Flying Unit, all metallic finish. Operated by the Flying Unit along with DC-3s, Avro Ansons and Tiger Moths fitted with canopies.
.49 DCA reserved the registration VH-CAU in the Department's VH-CA series, but the re-registration change was not carried out before the aircraft's accident
.50 DCA installed DH.104 Dove style teardrop ADF housing above the cockpit on both their Drovers VH-DHA & BMU.

TAA requested the loan of a DCA Drover for a trial to evaluate scheduled freight services between Sydney and Melbourne. The trial planned to fly 500 hours. VH-DHA was painted in TAA colour scheme with name Clifford Peel, in honour of the Australian Flying Corps pilot who first proposed a flying doctor service. Peel was killed in action flying an RE8 in France on 19.9.18.
15.11.50 Lease officially commenced to Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne.
20.3.51 CofA renewed, still in service with TAA
.51 Returned to DCA, issued to DCA New Guinea Region, based at Port Moresby
By 9.51 VH-DHA ferried from Melbourne to Port Moresby by DCA pilot Clarrie Hibbert
16.4.52 Ditched in sea 100 miles from Wewak, New Guinea.  During an over-water flight from Wewak to Momote, Manus Island, part of a blade of the port propeller sheared off in flight and penetrated the cockpit. DCA pilot Clarrie R. Hibbert's foot was severely injured and passenger DCA inspector Tom Drury pushed Hibbert aside to reach some controls to make a controlled ditching. Drover sank. The three occupants in an emergency dingy were rescued by a RAAF crash boat at 0230 hour next morning and after first light were transferred to Qantas Catalina VH-EBD, which landed in a the lee of an island to collect them and fly them to hospital in Port Moresby.

DCA acccident report: “At 1642 hours the port propeller, or a portion of it, broke off. This struck and penetrated the fuselage, seriously injuring the pilot and causing damage to the aircraft and its ancillary systems, to the extent that both remaining engines failed. One of the two passengers, also a pilot, took over the controls and successfully ditched the aircraft in a position 175 Km south west of Momote.”

Notes:
- This prototype did not have a window in the cabin door, so had 3 windows on port side, and 4 on the starboard side. All other Drovers had 4 windows on each side.

- during prototype testing, the wing engines were moved forward on lengthening engine cowlings. This caused modifications to the design of the engine nacelles.

- DCA fitted a DH.104 Dove style teardrop ADF housing above the cockpit to both their Drovers VH-DHA & BMU. These were the only Drovers so fitted.

Prototype Drover at Bankstown during 1948.   Photo: The Collection


Painted as TAA’s Clifford Peel, at Mascot 1950, during TAA freight service evaluation. Note the Dove style teardrop ADF housing above the cockpit.
Photo: Neville Parnell collection




C/n 5002                            Mk.1 Second prototype, Mk.1F, Mk.2                                                  VH-BMU, (VH-CAT), (G-APPP), VQ-FAD, VP-PAD


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5002
.47 Ordered by Department of Civil Aviation, Melbourne Vic
24.12.48 DHA quoted construction date
7.1.49 First flight Bankstown, fitted with wooden propellers

Registration VH-BMU allocated. DCA delay issue of CofR and CofA
2.2.49 Internal DCA memo: "No CofA yet issued because the aircraft is to be used only for test flying. VH-BMU is yet to become the property of this Department."
49 Test flown from Bankstown by DHA conducting stress-analysis of engine/propeller vibration. During these trials it was fitted for a period with wooden propellers.
22.12.49 Registered VH-BMU Department of Civil Aviation, Melbourne Vic.
Based Essendon Airport with the DCA Flying Unit, along with DC-3s, Avro Ansons and Tiger Moths. VH-BMU was based at Essendon during its ten years with DCA
22.12.49 CofA issued, fitted DH metal variable pitch propellers
22.12.49 DHA quoted delivery date to DCA
.49 DCA reserved the registration VH-CAT in the Department's VH-CA series, but for reasons not clear, the change of registration was never carried out.
.50 DCA installed DH.104 Dove style teardrop ADF housing above the cockpit on both their Drovers VH-DHA & BMU
11.6.50 visited Broken Hill NSW airshow, all metallic, teardrop ADF housing
19.12.50 Annual CofA renewed at Essendon. "Used for private and airwork operations by this Department."
24.1.51 Annual CofA renewal at Essendon
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
.54 Type changed to Drover Mk..2 at Bankstown by DHA 
9.9.57
VH-BMU noted in DCA hangar at Essendon, all metallic finish
10.58 Negotiations began for sale to Air Navigation and Trading Co Ltd, Blackpool.

(In 1.59 the company owner Mr. Russell L. Whyham applied to the Air Transport Licencing Board for a licence to commence a Blackpool-London airline service. It was reported that the company had instructed DHA in Sydney to modify a suitable Drover for airline use. When their route application was rejected, the Drover order was cancelled, however the import of a second Drover VH-EAS from Qantas did continue, finally delivered two years later to become G-APXX. It never flew in England.)
28.2.59 Mr. G. P. Truscott of Darwin NT wrote to DCA: he has purchased in England a Fairchild 24W Argus G-AKFN, which he intends to have flown to Australia on delivery to him.  The aircraft will be registered on his behalf by Travelair Ltd, London and he expects to have the Fairchild flown to Australia under Australian registration by Mr. Whyham, who wishes to depart immediately. The letter also mentioned that Mr. Whyham would pick up a Drover in Australia and fly it back to UK.

In the event G-AKFN did not depart England until June 1959 with a lady pilot, who had a series of misadventures and abandoned the Fairchild at Beirut:  see Fairchild listing in this series
3.59 Registration reserved:  G-APPP Air Navigation and Trading Co Ltd, Blackpool.
.59 VH-BMU delivered to DHA at Bankstown. Dismantled at Bankstown by DHA and packed for shipping to England
8.59
VH-BMU noted at Bankstown dismnatled in wooden box
9.59 British Registration reservation G-APPP cancelled.  Not Taken Up.
30.12.59 Change of ownership: Bowden Air Transport, Sydney NSW

Veteran pilot Joseph H. Bowden planned to use VH-BMU on a scheduled airline service Sydney-Goulburn-Orange but DCA refused a licence, stating a twin-pilot aircraft was required (forgetting TAA and Qantas use earlier that decade) and runway improvements and extensions at Orange prior to approving service. Bowden retained VH-BMU for general charter work from Bankstown
2.60 Illawarra Flying School CFI Keith Robey was endorsed on VH-BMU at Bankstown by Randy Green, then chief pilot of DHA. Robey then flew BMU on several charter trips for Bowden Air Transport
28.1.61 Drovers VH-BMU & AHZ participated with 20 other aircraft in a Royal Aero Club of NSW flight from Bankstown to Coffs Harbour NSW
5.61 Six month lease to Lindeman Island Pty Ltd, Mackay Qld while waiting for Lindeman's own Drover VH-ADN to be delivered in 12.61. Flew up to 8 passengers and supplies from Mackay to the resort island, several return trips a day, 30 minutes each way.
16.5.61 Inspected at Brisbane-Eagle Farm by Lachlan Nicolson, manager of Lindeman Island, and Mr. Bob Norman of Bush Pilots Airways, Cairns who helped Mr. Nicolson find the Drover. BPA fly passengers to Dunk island from Cairns and Townsville.
6.5.62 noted at Bankstown,  white with blue trim, "Bowden Air Transport" titles. Also 30.8.62
10.1.63 noted at Bankstown, in Hawker De Havilland hangar
5.4.63 noted at Bankstown, white with blue trim, "Bowden Air Transport" titles. Also 9.7.63
29.7.63 Change of ownership: Hawker De Havilland Australia Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport NSW
HdeH were Beech agents, the Drover was traded in by Bowden on a new Beechcraft.
7.12.63 noted at Bankstown, white with blue trim, no titles. Also 9.1.64, 2.2.64, 9.2.64

Sale to New Hebrides Airways negotiated by Hawker De Havilland
4.7.64 Registered VQ-FAD New Hebrides Airways Ltd, Port Vila, New Hebrides

New Hebrides did not have an Aircraft Register so Fiji authorities agreed to inclusion on the Fijian Register
10.7.64 noted at Bankstown, in HdeH hangar, repainted as VQ-FAD. New colour scheme of overall white with light blue cheat line and two horizontal stripes across the tail, registration between stripes. Inscription "UMA" below crossed flags of Britain and France on the fin.
14.7.64 Struck-off Australian Register, sold abroad
14.7.64 Departed Bankstown on ferry flight to New Hebrides, pilots Brian R. Walker and Warren Stewart. Passenger seats removed for the delivery flight, carried two 44 gallon drums of fuel in the cabin.
19.7.64 arrived Port Vila on delivery
7.8.64 On its second flight for New Hebrides Airways, crashed on landing at Aniwa Island when struck a stump hidden by grass. 5 feet of the right wing was torn off and general damage. Pilot  Brian Walker was unhurt. Walker had not landed on the prepared strip due inadequate briefing,
c9.64 Severed wing section was spliced back by a team from Hawker De Havilland flown in from Bankstown. After repairs, VQ-FAD was flown out of Aniwa Island to Tanna Island by Chief Pilot Paul Burton
c9.64 On landing at Tanna Island, ran off runway when aircraft ground-looped due to the port wheel brake binding. Stopped in bush alongside the strip with the freshly repaired starboard wing again badly damaged plus fuselage damage. Again repaired on site by the Hawker De Havilland team.
1.6.66 Registered VP-PAD New Hebrides Airways Ltd, Port Vila
(Transferred to the newly established New Hebrides Civil Aircraft Register)
21.10.66 Crashed in gorge Tanna Island, New Hebrides.
Disappeared on a flight from Lenakel airfield on Tanna Island to Futuna Island. The wreck was located three days later by air search at the bottom of a gorge on the slopes of Mount Tokugmera on Tanna, completely demolished and burnt out. All 8 occupants were killed, including the airline's Chief Pilot and Operations Manager, Paul H. Burton

Total airframe time: 1,853 hours

VH-BMU and VH-DHA at the De Havilland factory at Bankstown in early 1949.    Photo: The Collection


Broken Hill NSW in June 1950, after DCA fitted the teardrop ADF housing.   Photo: The Collection


VH-BMU at Bankstown in July 1963 with Bowden Air Transport titles.   Photo by Greg Banfield


Bankstown February 1964, no titles, soon to leave for the New Hebrides. Photo by Barney B. Deatrick


VQ-FAD at Port Vila, New Hebrides in July 1964 after delivery from Sydney.  Photo Brian R. Walker, via Neville Parnell


VQ-FAD & VQ-FAS at Port Vila, July 1964.    Photo: Brian Walker via Neville Parnell collection





C/n 5003                            Mk.1                                                                                                                                        G-ALLK, VH-EBQ


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5003

First production Drover

Planned to be delivered to the parent DH company for a sales drive in Britain and Europe. However production was so delayed it was diverted to Qantas to be the first of their order for 7 new Drovers
31.3.49 Registered G-ALLK De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd, Hatfield UK. Not imported. Registration cancelled 16.10.50
1.9.50 First flight Bankstown
13.9.50 Registered VH-EBQ Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
13.9.50 CofA issued. Fitted with 12 folding passenger seats which could be easily removed for cargo use.
13.9.50 DHA quoted delivery date to Qantas
9.50
Ferried from Sydney to Lae. where QEA will base all its Drovers on QEA New Guinea Internal Services
6.1.51 DCA Aircraft inspection report: total flying time 183 hours
mid 51 Ferried from New Guinea to Bankstown for maintenance including modification of the windscreen wipers to improve their effectiveness
16.7.51 Crashed in sea off Lae, New Guinea. 
While operating a scheduled airline service from Wau to Bulolo and Lae, crashed in Huon Gulf, 4 miles south of Lae Aerodrome while attempting to land at Lae in low clkoud and rain. Captain J. W. Spiers and 6 passengers were killed.

DCA Accident report: “The aircraft departed Bulolo at 0835 hours local time with one pilot and six passengers. 31 Minutes later the pilot reported over the mouth of the Markham River, about three minutes out from Lae Aerodrome. At this time there was continuous rain in the area with visibillity at the aerodrome reduced to two miles. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft and pieces of wreckage and two bodies were recovered from the sea south fo Lae at noon the same day. There were no survivors.”

The initial finding of investigation by DCA and QEA was pilot error in that Spiers continued the VFR flight into reduced visibility in low cloud and rain. The wreckage salvaged inckluded the centre propeller which was missing blade. This was assumed to be caused by  impact with the sea.

However after the ditchibng of VH-DHA 16.4.52, renewed Investigation revealed that the missing centre propeller blade had suffered structural failure and broke away in flight, causing the engine to pull out of its mountings and the pilot to lost control and the aircraft struck the sea.
5.5.52 Struck-off Register

VH-EBQ in Qantas service in New Guinea circa 1951.  Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


The wing of VH-EBQ salvaged from the sea off the New Guinea coast. Greg Banfield collection




C/n 5004                             Mk.1, Mk.1F, Mk.2, Mk.3, Mk.3B              Allan Vickers                                                          VH-DRA, (VH-FDQ), VP-PAG

50 Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5004

First of 6 Drovers ordered by Trans Australia Airlines for supplementary routes and to replace DH.84 Dragons on Flying Doctor Service contracts held by TAA in Queensland
5.12.50 First flight Bankstown
15.12.50 Registered VH-DRA Trans Australia Airlines, Brisbane Qld
15.12.50 CofA issued. 7 passenger seats, reduced to 6 seats if removable toilet compartment is installed
16.12.50 DHA quoted delivery date to TAA.  TAA records also quote this as acceptance date
17.12.50 Handover ceremony at Bankstown and christened with name by Dr. Allan Vickers of the Flying Doctor Service of Australia.
19.12.50 Commenced flying TAA Townsville-Cairns passenger services, replacing TAA Lockheed Lodestars.
3.51 Took up residence at Charleville Qld, operating TAA western Queensland services and the Charleville base Flying Doctor Service contract, replacing a TAA DH.84 Dragon. Drover maintenance by TAA and flown by TAA pilots.
3.51
VH-DRA flew the first Drover survey 7 day flight along the TAA Channel Country Service route from Charleville to Leigh Creek SA: 3,500 miles, with stops at 30 towns and properties.
Captain Barry Bell, carrying a Shell Oil Company representative and TAA personnel, including TAA Queensland Senior Route Captain C. H. Gray.

15.4.51
Pilot log: VH-DRA departed Charleville for Channel Service, Captains W.D.”Blue” Young  and John Rosenberg
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
.54 Type changed to Drover Mk.2 at Bankstown by DHA
4.56 Damaged at Charleville Qld
(not included in 1956 DCA Annual Survey of Aircraft Accidents)
1.7.59 Change of ownership: Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section).
Continued to be operated on contract by TAA, retained name Allan Vickers
6.60 Modification to Drover Mk.3 standard under way by DHA at Bankstown, the second to be converted to Lycoming engines.
3.10.60 Type changed to Drover Mk.3 after re-engining with Lycomings at Bankstown
10.60 Re-delivered to RFDS (Queensland Section)
c62 Allocated registration VH-FDQ with other RFDS (Queensland) Drovers when changed to the VH-FD series.
The change had not been officially actioned before it was damaged in 1965. However this aircraft was referred to as VH-FDQ in RFDS and TAA records and also the aircraft's log books.
19.4.65
Damaged in Charleville area Qld
Details unknown. Described in a DHA listing as “an after-landing accident”
20.4.65 VH-DRA struck-off Register at owner's request
65 Retired in RFDS hangar at Charleville Qld, later dismantled
67 Stored dismantled in RFDS hangar at Charleville, registration repainted on the tail as "VH-FDQ"
12.67 Moved by truck from Charleville to Brisbane-Eagle Farm Airport in early December. Painted as VH-FDQ on tail. Rebuilt by TAA
11.12.67 Propeller log book: Drover FDQ: propellers replaced
12.67 Rolled-out on reassembly at Brisbane, VH-FDQ on tail
19.12.67 noted at Brisbane, parked outside TAA hangar, complete but registration painted over
21.12.67 Airframe log "VH-FDQ": inspection for reissue of CofA
21.12.67 Ferried Brisbane-Bankstown, no registration. Airframe log "VH-FDQ": 4 hrs 40 mins
1.68 Modified to Drover Mk.3B by Hawker De Havilland Australia at Bankstown at their military overhaul facility.
17.2.68 noted at Bankstown, at Hawker De Havilland military hangars, painted as "VP-PAG"
24.2.68 Registered as Drover Mk.3B VP-PAG New Hebrides Airways Ltd, Port Vila, operating as
Air Melanesiae
28.2.68 Departed Bankstown on delivery flight to Air Melanesiae
3.3.68 VP-PAG noted at Bankstown in new paint scheme, "Air Melanesiae" titles. This was the new operating name for New Hebrides Airways
4.3.68 Departed Bankstown on ferry flight to New Hebrides, pilot Barry Davis. Routed via Noumea, New Caledonia
3.68 Entered airline service with Air Melanesiae
68 Logs record flights almost every day
30.11.68 Crashed landing Longana, New Hebrides. Ran off runway due brake failure, badly damaged. 9 passengers, no serious injuries. Aircraft written off.

Dismantled and stripped for parts at Longana
5.69 Struck-off Register
86 the stripped fuselage wreck still at Longana

Bob Paul, founder of New Hebrides Airways wrote in 1986: "VP-PAG was a Mk.3B we purchased from the RFDS. Brake failure on a one-way strip at Sola, Longana, the aircraft ran off the strip and undercarriage wiped off and severe structural damage to the aircraft. It was abandoned. Nine passengers were aboard but no serious injuries."

Shiny new VH-DRA during TAA acceptance at Bankstown, 16 December 1950.  Photo: The Collection


VH-DRA at Townsville later in December 1950. Note the spinners of the orginal V-P propellers, and the muffler cuff under
the centre engine to provide cabin heating.  Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


TAA's VH-DRA in a 1950s outback Queensland scene.   Photo: Geoff Goodall collection




C/n 5005                           Mk.1, Mk.1F, Mk.2                                                                                                                                VH-EBR, VQ-FAO


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5005

Second of 7 Drovers ordered by Qantas Empire Airways to be based in New Guinea
12.3.51 Propeller log: propeller fitted to Gipsy Majors installed in Drover 5005 on production line
3.4.51 First flight Bankstown
9.4.51 Registered VH-EBR Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
9.4.51 CofA issued
11.4.51 Log book: Acceptance test flight Bankstown, QEA pilot Captain R.J. Ritchie, then ferried Bankstown-Mascot same day. All flights listed below from VH-EBR Airframe Log Book
11.4.51 DHA quoted delivery date to Qantas
20.4.51 Flight over Sydney for Qantas public relations photographs, Captain L. W. Purkiss
7.5.51 Departed Sydney on ferry flight to TPNG where based with QEA New Guinea Internal Services
9.5.51 Arrived Port Moresby
21.8.52
Departed Brisbane on return to Lae after annual CofA renewal overhaul by Qantas at Brisbane-Eagle Farm Airport.
QEA Air Safety Incident Report: The pilot, First Officer M.F. J. Stammer experienced periods of rough running on all three engines during each leg north via Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville. TAA engineers inspected the engines at Townsville, but problem re-occurred inbound to Cairns. Replacement fuel pumps were sent from Brisbane and installed by TAA at Cairns. Reached Lae 28.8.52
1.9.52
QEA Air Safety Incident Report: brake failure when taxying on tarmac at Qantas terminal at Lae Aerodrome, no damage. QEA First Officer J. C. Johnstone
3.9.52
QEA Air Safety Incident Report:  During a flight Lae to Madang, VH-EBR made a precautionary landing en route due weather. No damage.  Pilot F/O M. F. J. Stammer, with 7 passengers
10.9.52
Diverted for emergency landing at Banz PNG due smoke from centre engine, while enroute Madang to Mount Hagen on a charter flight. No airframe damage, QEA First Officer J. J. McKee, no passengers. Investigation found that the smoke was caused by overheating of the propeller gearbox.
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
.53 Modified to Drover Mk..2 by De Havilland Aircraft at Bankstown. During the work, DHA installed a redesigned cockpit at Qantas request, intended to improve pilot visibility during landing approach to New Guinea highlands airstrips. The cockpit roof was raised, windscreen and cockpit side windows heightened and widened. This was the only Drover fitted with this enlarged windscreen design.
.53 Performance trials of the Drover Mk.2 for DCA certification were conducted with VH-EBR at RAAF Laverton Vic by RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU).
.53 Returned to Qantas service in New Guinea
12.11.53 Log: Local flying Lae, Captain T. E. W. Howes. Also 14.11.53
10.2.54 Lae-Bulolo-Wau-Lae, Captain M. F. J. Stammer
11.2.54 Departed Lae on ferry flight to Sydney, Captain D. A. O'Malley. CofA renewal at DHA
6.4.54 Bankstown-Mascot, Captain Stammer
.54 Qantas withdrew Drovers from New Guinea service, offered them to Fiji Airways to replace DH.89 Rapides. Qantas had a financial interest in Fiji Airways.
11.6.54 Sold to Fiji Airways Ltd, Suva, Fiji
6.54 Shipped from Sydney to Fiji in a wooden shipping crate.

Assembled at Nausori Airport, Suva. Aircraft in Qantas paint scheme. Repainted to Fiji Airways markings
15.7.54 Registered as Drover Mk.2 VQ-FAO Katafanga Estates Ltd, trading as Fiji Airways Ltd, Suva
8.54 Entered service with Fiji Airways
28.8.54 Forced landing on Teilau Reef, Bau Island, Fiji.
On a scheduled flight Savusavu-Suva, all engines lost power due to an air lock in a fuel line after switching between fuel tanks while cruising at 2,500 feet.  Forced landing on a sandbar on a coral reef, undercarriage torn away. Captain Fred Ladd and 7 passengers unhurt. All were rescued by local natives in canoes.  The incoming tide swamped the aircraft with salt water.
8.54 Aircraft salvaged by barge from reef and taken to Nausori Airport for inspection.
Written off due salt water immersion. Stripped for parts.
31.8.54 VH-EBR struck-off Australian Register
23.11.54 Struck-off Fiji Register
4.59 Fuselage section seen dumped near Nausori Airport, Suva

Brand new VH-EBR at Mascot in April 1951, before heading for New Guinea. Ben Dannecker collection

VH-EBR as a Mk.2 with redesigned cockpit, at RAAF Laverton during performance trials in 1953. Ben Dannecker collection.



VQ-FAO at Nausori Airport, Fiji. Fiji Airways Chief Pilot Fred Ladd (right) and Chief Engineer Len Dobbin (left). Photo by R. Furness.

Pacific Islands Monthly, September 1954, courtesy Roger McDonald

VQ-FAO’s fuselage section dumped at Suva, April 1959. Photo Gordon Clear via SA Aviation Museum



C/n 5006                          Mk.1, Mk.1F, Mk.2, Mk.3                John Flynn                                                                             VH-DRB, VH-FDR

.51 Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5006

Second of 6 Drovers ordered by Trans Australia Airlines for supplementary routes and to replace DH.84 Dragons on Flying Doctor Service contracts held by TAA in Queensland
4.6.51 First flight Bankstown
6.6.51 TAA acceptance date from DHA
20.6.51 CofA issued, DH metal variable-pitch propellers
25.6.51 Registered VH-DRB Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic
Operated for Flying Doctor Service of Australia, initially based Charleville Qld
26.6.51 Ferried Bankstown-Sydney Airport-Coffs Harbour-Brisbane, TAA Captain W. D. Young
27.6.51 Publicity flying at Brisbane
28.6.51 Ferried Brisbane-Charleville Qld by Captain Young, to be based Charleville for the Flying Doctor Service contract. Replaced a TAA Dragon.
29.6.51 DHA quoted delivery date to TAA . Named John Flynn
17.7.52 Annual CofA renewal at Brisbane-Eagle Farm
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
.54 Type changed to Drover Mk.2 at Bankstown by DHA
1.7.59 Change of ownership: Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section)
Flown by RFDS pilots but maintenance continued on contract by TAA, retained name John Flynn
31.7.59 TAA "disposal date" to RFDS
1.61 Type changed to Drover Mk.3 after re-engining with Lycomings at Bankstown
23.10.61 Airframe log: maintenance at Charleville
9.62 Airframe log: major overhaul at Brisbane-Eagle Farm Airport by TAA.  Indicates that it was repainted as VH-FDR during this maintenance
21.9.62 Test flown at Eagle Farm after maintenance
1.10.62 Officially reegistered VH-FDR
5.1.66 Crashed on takeoff, Thargomindah Qld.   Captain K. Killen and 2 passengers unhurt.  
DCA accident report: “Take off was abandoned when, in moderate quartering wind, the pilot was unable to maintain directional control. The aircraft moved sideways off the strip and both undercarriage struts were torn away after striking rocks.”
4.8.66 Struck-off Register at owner's request

Stored dismantled in RFDS hangar at Charleville Qld. Fuselage and wings appeared to be in generally good condition, RFDS paint scheme, name John Flynn
15.5.73 VH-FDR noted at Charleville, dismantled in RFDS hangar
.75 Sold for spare parts to Tangalooma Air Taxis, Brisbane Qld
To provide parts to maintain their airworthy Drover VH-AZS
.75 Moved by road from Charleville to Brisbane. Reported at the time that it had been purchased for spares by previous owner of VH-AZS Laurie A. Cheras, Brisbane
2.76 Dismantled airframe of VH-FDR Included in the sale of VH-AZS to Partenavia agents Forrestair Pty Ltd, Melbourne when traded on a new Partenavia P68.
2.76 Forrestair had already on-sold VH-AZS (with VH-FDR) to Joe Drage trading as Drage's Historic Aircraft Museum, Wodonga Vic
12.77 Dismantled airframe acquired by Ross Stephens, Brisbane Qld.
Stripped fuselage and wings moved from storage in Brisbane to his house at 19 Idona Street, Aspley where stored dismantled in his back yard as a playhouse for his children
23.12.79 Acquired from Stephens by Queensland Air Museum, Brisbane, later Caloundra Qld
Airframe had no tailplane, undercarriage, engines and cowlings.
Exchanged for a child's play aeroplane constructed by QAM member David Bussey
13.9.80 Fuselage and wings moved by truck to QAM's temporary storage area at Brisbane Airport
18.1.85 One of the wings was blown 100 metres by a severe storm, severely damaged
23.2.86 Fuselage and wings moved by road from Brisbane Airport to new QAM site at Caloundra Airport, Queensland
4.4.87 fuselage displayed inside new QAM hangar during opening ceremony. The fuselage was painted as RFDS VH-FDR John Flynn.
09 Fuselage displayed in QAM hangar, cabin door open for inspection, now has tailplane and recently fitted with a Gipsy Major nose engine and cowlings.
The damaged wings were stored in the open in the adjacent museum compound

Current

VH-DRB with RFDS titles with TAA emblem below the cockpit.   Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


VH-FDR displayed at Queensland Air Museum 2009.   Photo by Ron Cuskelly





C/n 5007                            Mk.1, Mk.1F, Mk.2, Mk.3                Norman Bourke, Lady Elza                                                            VH-DRC, VH-FDS

51 Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5007

Third of 6 Drovers ordered by Trans Australia Airlines for supplementary routes and to replace DH.84 Dragons on Flying Doctor Service contracts held by TAA in Queensland
8.8.51 First flight Bankstown
10.8.51 TAA delivery date from DHA. TAA acceptance flying by Captain Ross Crabbe
14.8.51 Registered VH-DRC Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic
Operated for Flying Doctor Service of Australia, initially based Cloncurry Qld
14.8.51 CofA issued
10.8.51 Named Norman Bourke in ceremony at Brisbane Airport attended by Mr. Norman Bourke, President of Flying Doctor Service of Australia (Queensland Section)
22.8.51 Entered service at Cloncurry on TAA scheduled airline services to Queensland Gulf Country and FDS clnic runs to towns and properties, as well as occasional emergency medical evacuation flights. Crewed and maintained by TAA. Replaced a TAA Dragon.
16.2.52 Damaged at "Alcala" Homestead, Queensland. Repairs completed 27.2.52
5.8.52 Annual CofA renewal at Brisbane-Eagle Farm
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
.54 Type changed to Drover Mk.2 at Bankstown by DHA
5.54 Base changed from Cloncurry to Charters Towers Qld
31.7.59 Change of ownership: Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section)
Continued to be operated on contract by TAA, retained name Norman Bourke
.61 Type changed to Drover Mk.3 after re-engining with Lycomings by DHA at Bankstown
10.9.63 Reregistered VH-FDS
1.9.64 VH-FDS noted at Charters Towers, based here with RFDS
20.10.65 noted Brisbane Airport, having maintenance by TAA
11.67 noted Brisbane Airport
14.5.68 Tipped on nose in soft ground at Wyandra Qld, damaging propellers.
Props removed 23.5.68
8.7.68 noted Brisbane Airport, having maintenance by TAA
17.7.68 noted Brisbane Airport in TAA hangar
8.68 Retired by RFDS due replacement by Beech Queenairs
5.9.68 Change of ownership: Hawker De Havilland (Australia) Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport NSW
Traded in to Beech agents Hawker De Havilland on replacement RFDS Beech Queen Air
8.9.68 noted Brisbane Airport, parked outside TAA hangars, RFDS scheme and titles
16.9.68 Ferried Brisbane-Bankstown on delivery to Hawker De Havilland
21.9.68 noted at Bankstown, parked outside HdeH hangar, RFDS scheme and titles
24.10.68 VH-FDS & FDT noted at Bankstown, outside HdeH hangar, RFDS scheme and titles
3.11.68 VH-FDS & FDT noted at Bankstown unmoved, also 16.11.68
7.69 Change of ownership: Murchison Air Services Pty Ltd, Perth Airport WA
25.7.69 Arrived Perth Airport on delivery flight from Bankstown, still RFDS scheme and titles
27.7.69 Murchison pilot Harry O’Neil was endorsed on type at Perth Airport by Ted Shaw
29.7.69 noted at Perth Airport in Murchison hangar having RFDS paintwork removed
29.7.69 noted at Perth Airport being repainted bronze and white with red fin adorned with stars of the Southern Cross, no titles
10.69
Noted at Perth Airport, Murchison Air Services bronze and white paint scheme but no titles.
7.70 Titles "Southern Airlines" painted on at Perth Airport. Joined Southern Airlines, an associate company of Murchison Air Services formed to operate commuter airline routes to WA country towns, commencing with Piper Aztec and Navajo aircraft
7.70 VH-FDS commenced flying scheduled Southern Airlines services from Perth Airport to Rottnest Island, off Perth, along with Piper Navajos
10.70 Titles "Murchison" replaced "Southern Airlines". Murchison Air Services took over the scheduled airline services previously flown under Southern Airlines' name.
10.70 Murchison introduced a promotional Mur-bird Club on the short Rottnest island run, and painted the Drover with Mur-bird motif. Up to 8 return services a day, majority flown by the Drover.
8.3.71 Struck a ground power unit on parking apron at Perth Airport when brakes failed after a flight from Rottnest Island. Significant damage. Repair delayed due lack of spare parts.
5.7.71 Murchison Air Services taken over by Trans-West Air Charter Pty Ltd, Perth WA
7.71 VH-FDS repairs completed, parked near MAS/TWAC hangar at Perth Airport
22.8.71 Flew a charter Perth-Rottnest Island-Perth, first flight since repairs completed

Flew charters for TWAC and only occasional Rottnest scheduled services
24.1.72 Last flight with TWAC, a charter Perth-Rottnest Island-Perth
29.1.72 VH-FDS noted at Jandakot Airport, parked away from the TWAC hangar with other MAS/TWAC aircraft Cessna 310s VH-REK, DKY, and Navajo VH-RTO. All retired.
5.2.72 noted at Jandakot, unmoved
23.2.72 flew Jandakot-Perth Airport-Jandakot
28.2.72 Change of ownership: Air-Rep Service Pty Ltd, Perth WA.
(Air Rep Service had been operated for some years by veteran WA bush pilot John Collins with single-engined Cessnas. He delivered orders for household goods and hardware to remote properties and towns in the north of WA)
16.3.72 Undercarriage damaged when struck a concrete tie-down block taxying at Mount Goldsworthy WA.
4.5.72 Flew Sandstone-Perth after repairs
8.5.72 During maintenance at Jandakot, titles "Air Rep Service" were applied, with name Lady Elza
13.11.72 noted at Meekatharra WA. Aircraft now has titles "Air Rep Service Pty Ltd WA"
14.11.72 Forced landing on mud flats at South Hedland, due fuel expiry while inbound to Port Hedland from Mount Tom Price mine, pilot John Collins. No damage. A strip was bulldozed later that day and Collins flew FDS to Port Hedland Airport.
21.11.72 noted at Roebourne WA. John Collins landed with a local delivery carrying a load of parcels and goods, including potted palms strapped into passenger seats.

regularly flown from Perth Airport to northern localities
7.5.73 Ferried Perth Airport to Jandakot for storage pending sale by Air Rep Service
3.6.73 noted at Jandakot
15.6.73 noted at Jandakot
6.73 Sold to James Luck and associates, Smithton Tasmania
(Change of ownership not recorded in Civil Register)
26.6.73 Ferried Jandakot-Perth Airport for new owner.
27.6.73 Departed Perth Airport for Kalgoorlie WA on ferry flight to Tasmania
30.6.73 Arrived Adelaide-Parafield en route to Tasmania. Departed next day.
7.73 Operated for the new owner by Island Aviation Pty Ltd, Smithton Tas.
(The Drover was purchased to carry mutton birds from Trefoil Island to Smithton for processing.  Island Aviation were experienced in carrying mutton birders and their catch between islands off northern Tasmania coast, landing on rough strips and beaches with Austeqrs then single-engined Cessnas)
30.7.73 Crashed on landing Trefoil Island, Tasmania.
Pilot/Operator C. K. Powles was arriving on a flight from Smithton to collect a load of frozen mutton birds from the island. He and one passenger were not injured. DCA accident report:
“On landing at Trefoil Island the aircraft swung to starboard and ran off the grass strip. Both main wheels dropped into mutton bird burrows and were torn off and there was further substantial damage to the airframe and engine installations. Pilot and one passenger uninjured.”
8.73 Engines, cowlings and propellers removed and usable parts stripped from the aircraft on the island. The remainder left where it came to rest on its belly in high grass beside the airstrip
.73
Jim Luck purchased the stripped hulk from insurance company for token $5.
14.9.73 Struck-off Civil Register
10.73 noted on Trefoil Island, on belly in grass off the airstrip, Engines and parts removed.
.79 Purchased "as is" for $300 from Jim Luck by a group of Wynyard Aero Club members. 
10.79
Wings dismantled and moved from Trefoil Island on board an old Army Duck amphibious vehicle. Unloaded at Woolnorth on northern coast of Tasmania, then transported to Wynyard on a timber logging truck.
81
Stored in a village hall at Calder, 3 miles from Wynyard Airport Tas. The group planned to restore the Drover for static display as an RFDS aircraft at Wynyard Airport.
81 Stored in a village hall at Cader, 3 miles from Wynyard Airport Tas. The group planned to restore the Drover for static display in TAA colour scheme at Wynyard Airport.
5.82 Little work carried out on the airframe so far due lack of parts and finances.

Acquired as a restoration project by Mark Clayton, Sydney NSW.
Airframe stored at Dedington Tas
5.9.89 Donated by Mark Clayton to Queensland Air Museum, Caloundra Airport Qld
28.2.90 Hulk of VH-FDS arrived dismantled at Caloundra
7.07 Restoration began at QAM. Fuselage paintwork removed to reveal RFDS titles.
12.09 Fuselage recently mounted on wings, standing on undercarriage, Painted in white and silver RFDS scheme as VH-FDS. Parked in open in QAM compound at museum

Current at QAM.

VH-DRC at Augustus Downs Station Qld.   Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


Rebuilt as a Mk.3 VH-FDS, at Bankstown November 1968.   Photo: The Collection


Engines removed then abandoned, Trefoil Island, Tasmania, October 1973. Photo by Mike Madden


VH-FDS being paint-stripped at Queensland Air Museum, January 2008. Photo by Ron Cuskelly


The previous RFDS paintwork under the bronze and white, January 2008. Photo by Ron Cuskelly




C/n 5008                         Mk1, Mk.1F, Mk.2                                                                                                                                  VH-EBS, VQ-FAQ


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5008

Third of 7 Drovers ordered by Qantas Empire Airways, to be based in New Guinea
14.9.51 First flight Bankstown
19.9.51 CofA issued
19.9.51 Registered VH-EBS Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
28.9.51 DHA quoted delivery date to QEA.  Qantas records record same date for acceptance
29.10.51 Departed Sydney on delivery to Lae, where based with QEA New Guinea Internal Services
9.9.52
Departed Lae for Brisbane for annual CofA renewal inspection. Captain Rex B.Cuthbertson
Routed via Daru, Horn Island, Iron Range, Cooktown, Cairns, Toownsville, Mackay

11.9.52
A blade of the centre propeller flew off during engine run-up on the runway at Mackay Qld prior to takeoff. The engine was pulled out of its mountings and hung down held by the two bottom struts.
.52 Centre engine replaced and airframe damage repaired at Mackay. Then flown to Brisbane
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
10.2.53 Annual CofA renewal at Brisbane-Eagle farm. Total time 593 hrs
13.3.53 Pilot Log: Lae-Bulolo-Lae, Captain T. E. W. Howes
1.54 Pilot Log: daily flying in New Guinea
.54 Type changed to Drover Mk..2 at Bankstown by DHA 
13.5.54 Pilot Log: Departed Lae on ferry to Sydney for retirement, Captain Tom Howes:
Lae to Malalaua, Horn island, Iron Range, Cooktown, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Brisbane, Coffs Harbour, Sydney
16.5.54 Arrived Mascot Airport, Sydney. Retired from service
.54 Qantas negotiated the sale of the Drovers it was withdrawing from New Guinea service to Fiji Airways to replace their DH.89 Rapides.   Qantas later purchased  a financial interest in Fiji Airways.
15.10.54 Struck-off Australian Register, sold to Fiji. Total airframe time 1154 hours
15.10.54 Sold to Fiji Airways Ltd, Suva
.54
Packed in two wooden crates and shipped from Sydney to Fiji

Assembled by Fiji Airways at Nausori Airport, Suva. Aircraft in Qantas paint scheme. Repainted to Fiji Airways markings
11.1.55 Registered as Mk.2 VQ-FAQ Katafanga Estates Ltd trading as Fiji Airways Ltd, Suva
30.12.55 Crashed Wainivatumbuso Gorge, near Nasauvere, Fiji. Captain Brian McCook was badly injured, carrying no passengers on a flight from Nausori Airport, Suva to Nadi International Airport. Took off at 7.56am and not seen again.

McCook reported that his right wing struck a tree while flying low across the Gorge. To avoid crashing nose in, he pulled the nose up steeply and hit the edge of the gorge tail first. Bleeding heavily from gashes to his face and legs, he walked through dense undergrowth until found by a native out pig hunting. Air search by another Drover and RNZAF aircraft. Ground parties came by boat and McCook was moved to hospital on a boat.
11.4.56 Struck-off Fijian Register

VH-EBS has its Gipsy Major engines run up at Brisbane-Eagle Farm Airport in 1953. Photo by Gus Gruelke 




C/n 5009                           Mk.1, Mk.1F, Mk.2                      Angus Nicolson                                                                      VH-EBT, VQ-FAP, VH-ADN


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5009

Fourth of 7 Drovers ordered by Qantas Empire Airways to be based in New Guinea
25.10.51 First flight Bankstown
31.10.51 CofA issued
31.10.51 Registered VH-EBT Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
1.11.51 DHA quoted delivery date to QEA.  Qantas records give same date for acceptance
11.51
Delivered from Sydney to Lae, where based with QEA New Guinea Internal Services
21.7.52 Pilot log: QEA Captain M. Stammer endorsed on type at Lae by Captain W. Forgan-Smith
2.8.52
QEA Air Safety Incident Report: Emergency landing at Banz PNG when centre engine failed immediately after takeoff.  QEA First Officer J.C. Johnstone was operating Lae to Goroka, Banz, Goroka, Banz, Goroka, Banz, Mount Hagen.
No damage.

.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F  by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
17.12.53 Pilot Log: flying from Lae
22.12.53 Pilot Log: Lae to Wau, Bulolo, Lae: Captain T. E. W. Howes.  He flew same route 26.12.53, 28.12.53
29.12.53
Pilot Log: Lae to Finschhafen, Wau, Bulolo, Lae: Captain Howes
26.1.54 Pilot Log: Finschafen to Wau, Bulolo, Lae: Captain Howes
.54 Type changed to Drover Mk.2 at Bankstown by DHA
.54 Qantas negotiated the sale of the Drovers it was withdrawing from New Guinea service to Fiji Airways to replace their DH.89 Rapides.   Qantas later purchased  a financial interest in Fiji Airways.
11.6.54 Sold to Fiji Airways Ltd, Suva
6.54 Packed in two wooden crates and shipped from Sydney to Fiji
7.54 Assembled by Fiji Airways at Nausori Airport, Suva
6.7.54 Registered as Mk.2 VQ-FAP Katafanga Estates Ltd, trading as Fiji Airways Ltd, Suva
6.7.54
Test flight at Suva by Fiji Airways Chief Pilot Fred Ladd
7.54 Entered Fiji Airways service as their first Drover
31.8.54 Struck-off Australian Register
26.5.60 Ran off runway and struck an earth bank due due brake failure after landing at Savu Savu, Fiji. Port engine and undercarriage torn away. Captain Neil M. Ganley and 7 passengers unhurt. Airframe time 8,604 hrs.
14.6.61 TAA engineering records purchase date ex Fiji Airways. Acquired to operate a contract with Lindeman Island resort off the Queensland coast near Mackay. Airframe time 9,316 hours.
.61 Ferried from Fiji to Australia by TAA Captain John Chapman
13.9.61 Registered VH-ADN: Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic. Named Angus Nicolson
(Angus D. Nicolson was founder of Lindeman Island Pty Ltd)
61 Based Mackay Qld carrying passengers and supplies to Lindeman Island
14.12.61 Change of ownership: Lindeman Island Pty Ltd, Mackay Qld
c62 Change of ownership: Lindeman Aerial Services Pty Ltd, Mackay Qld
26.9.64 noted at Mackay Qld, brown and white paint scheme, "Lindeman" titles
19.3.66 completed overhaul in TAA hangar at Brisbane Airport, repainted TAA style blue and white scheme, "Drover" on tail, "Royal Mail", with "Lindeman" in red above windows
15.8.66 noted at Mackay, "Lindeman" titles
.68 Change of ownership: Hazair Sales and Service, Orange NSW. Total time 11,910 hours
(Hazair were dealers in near-new Piper aircraft imported from USA. Lindeman traded the Drover on a Piper Aztec 250 recently ferried from USA by Hazair)
6.68 noted at Bankstown, "Lindeman" titles, name "Angus Nicolson", parked outside Hawker De Havilland hangar
20.7.68 noted at Bankstown, unmoved, props removed. Also 21.9.68. 13.10.68
31.12.68 noted at Bankstown, now with one prop fitted
11.2.69 Change of ownership: J. B. Steggles, Newcastle NSW
5.10.69 noted at Orange NSW, parked on grass near Hazair hangar, "Lindeman" titles
22.11.69 visited Adelaide Airport, "Lindeman" titles
15.9.70 noted at Orange NSW, "Lindeman" titles
26.9.70 noted at Orange NSW
29.12.70 noted at Orange NSW, still "Lindeman" titles and name Angus Nicolson
3.11.71 Change of ownership: Ronald S. Pugsley, Ettalong NSW
15.4.72 noted at Cessnock NSW, faded "Lindeman" titles
9.6.72 Ferried Bankstown-Albury-Moorabbin, pilot Keith Meggs. Next day to Labertouche Vic where based for a period on parachuting operations
15.6.72 Change of ownership: Ian McCrostie, Melbourne Vic
17.7.72 Change of ownership: Claude V. Gillard & Bruce Towers, Melbourne Vic
26.5.73 noted at Bankstown, faded "Lindeman" paintwork
11.7.73 Struck-off Register at owner's request
19.11.73 noted at Bankstown, faded "Lindeman" paintwork
11.12.73 Restored to Register VH-ADN: Southern Cross Parachutes Pty Ltd, c/- Bruce Towers, Melbourne Vic
- Forced landing in northern Queensland. Department of Transport investigation found that VH-ADN had been operating commercially carrying loads of prawns in the Normanton area, while registered in Private Category
20.7.76 noted at Longreach Qld, parked here in open storage for two years
30.6.77 Change of ownership: Palms Investments Pty Ltd c/- Bruce Towers, Beaudesert Qld
5.4.78 noted at Coonabarabran NSW. Has been retired here for some time, parked in open storage. Same paint scheme but no titles.
Owner Bruce Towers reported to be waiting for overhaul of centre engine, after which it will return to parachute dropping operations at Corowa NSW.
1.9.78 noted at Coonabarabran, unmoved
81/82 retired at Packenham Vic parachuting strip. Poor condition
24.6.81 Struck-off Register at owner's request
9.82 Ferried from Packenham to Morwell Vic for overhaul. Two-engine ferry flight made with aircraft in poor condition, deteriorated fabric control surfaces taped over.
14.3.83 noted at Morwell Vic, parked outside in poor condition
4.3.84 noted at Morwell Vic, parked outside, control surface fabric tattered
23.12.85
noted at Morwell Vic, weathered blue & white paint, all control surfaces removed, tarpaulin over cockpit area, tent covering port wing
87-89 Two year restoration by J. Brown, Morwell Vic
27.1.89 Restored to Register VH-ADN: John E. Brown, Morwell Vic
25.3.89 visited Mangalore Vic airshow, restored, white with blue cheat line
10.90 visited RAAF Point Cook Vic fly-in
12.10.91 visited RAAF Richmond airshow
24.10.92 visited Avalon Vic airshow
26.10.92 Change of ownership: Helen J. Brown, Morwell Vic .
(She kept the Drover going after the death of her husband John, flown for her by Dave Wheatland of Gippsland Aeronautics at Morwell-Latrobe Valley Airport)
by 99 Purchased by Charlie Camilleri, & Peter Hanneman, Bathurst NSW
17.1.00 Press reports on CASA aircraft grounding order Australia-wide due fuel contamination, had picture of Charlie Camilleri sitting in the Drover at Bathurst. His Tiger Moth was also grounded.
8.00 visited Watts Bridge Qld flyin, flown from Bathurst by owner Charlie Camilleri. Basic TAA blue and white paint scheme, no titles. Total time 12,200 hours
25.9.00 Change of ownership: Bathurst Aircraft Maintenance Centre Pty Ltd, trading as
Bathurst Vintage Joy Flights c/- Charlie Camilleri, Bathurst NSW
10.00
Flown at Bathurst by Charlie Camilleri in formation with HARS Drover VH-DHM
9.7.01 noted at Charleville Vic with travelling with a group of aircraft on the Airshows In The Outback Tour. Pilot Charlie Camillerei
16.10.03 noted at Bathurst NSW, flying joyrides
17.3.05 visited Avalon Vic airshow, blue and white, no titles
28.9.07 visited Narromine NSW flyin
10.3.09 visited Avalon Vic airshow, blue and white. no titles. Also 4.3.11

Current

VH-EBT at Brisbane-Eagle Farm Airport in 1952.  Photo by Gus Gruelke

VQ-FAP in Fiji Airways service.   Photo: Dave Freeman Collection, courtesy SA Aviation Museum


Bankstown September 1968, traded by Lindeman Island on an Aztec.  Photo by Roger McDonald


Morwell Vic in March 1984, looking very weather beaten.  Photo by Roger McDonald


Restored and repainted, visiting RAAF Point Cook Vic in October 1990.  Photo by Phil Vabre





C/n 5010                           Mk.1                          St. Vincent Welch                                                                                                          VH-DRD


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5010

Fourth of 6 Drovers ordered by Trans Australia Airlines for supplementary routes and to replace DH.84 Dragons on Flying Doctor Service contracts held by TAA in Queensland
30.11.51 First flight Bankstown
5.12.51 CofA issued. 7 passenger seats
5.12.51 Registered VH-DRD Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic
6.12.51 DHA quoted delivery date to TAA.  TAA records give same date for acceptance 

Ferried from Sydney to Charleville Qld where it was based on the RFDS contract. Named St. Vincent Welch after an early flying doctor
11.1.52 Crashed on takeoff Mooraberrie Station Qld.
Operating a scheduled TAA Channel Country Service from Charleville to Quilpie, Windorah, Waverney, Morney, Mooraberrie to Leigh Creek SA. TAA Captain Peter Chapman and two passengers were not injured.
DCA accident report: “Shortly after becoming airborne on take-off at Mooraberrie, the centre engine lost all power. Some seconds later the port engine also lost power completely and the pilot made a landing off the airfield straight ahead and ran through a fence. The touchdown was heavy and the aircraft sustained substantial damage.”

Aircraft wrecked, stripped for parts and abandoned on "Mooraberrie" Station
5.5.52 Struck-off Register

Dismantled fuselage reportedly used as  chicken house for the station homestead
11.80 Fuselage salvaged from "Mooraberrie" and moved by road to Mount Isa Qld by the local APEX Club for a planned memorial to the RFDS.
80-81 VH-DRD fuselage used to build a composite display airframe, with sections of VH-AZN (c/n 5017) by volunteers at Mount Isa.
27.6.81 Unveiled at Mount Isa, displayed on pole, painted as "RFDS VH-DRD St Vincent Welch"
15
Still on pole at Mount Isa but badly deteriorated due exposure to the weather.  Planned to be taken down and stored, for future restoration for an RFDS memorial at another western Queensland town.

VH-DRD damaged at Mooraberrie Station Qld January 1952. Structural damage made it a write-off and after engines and parts
had been removed, it was abandoned by TAA on the station.
  Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


VH-DRD's recovery team reaches Mount Isa, November 1980. Photo by Ben Dannecker


Mount Isa, January 2010: the paintwork by now faded by the outback sun. Photo by Ken Watson





C/n 5011                           Mk.1, Mk.1F, Mk.2, Mk.3, Mk.3B           Eric Donaldson,  Big Thunder                         VH-DRE, VH-FDT, VP-PAP, VH-EOO

. Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5011

Fifth of 6 Drovers ordered by Trans Australia Airlines for supplementary routes and to replace DH.84 Dragons on Flying Doctor Service contracts held by TAA in Queensland
21.2.52 First flight Bankstown
21.3.52 CofA issued
4.4.52 Registered VH-DRE Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic. Named Eric Donaldson
4.4.52 CofA issued
8.4.52 DHA quoted delivery date to TAA. TAA records give same date as acceptance.
To be based at Cloncurry Qld for TAA services and the FDS contract
4.52 Collected at Bankstown by Captain Harry Moss (of NT Medical Service) wearing his brand new TAA uniform, who ferried it to Cloncurry. TAA had just taken over operations and crewing for NTMS.
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
16.4.53 Annual CofA renewal at Brisbane-Eagle Farm
8.54 Ferried from Cloncurry to Bankstown for conversion to Drover Mk.2 by De Havilland Aircraft.  Replaced by Drover 2 VH-AHZ loaned by DHA while DRE at Bankstown.  VH-DRE back in RFDS service at Cloncurry as a Mk.2 by 10.54

Later based Charleville Qld on RFDS contract
1.7.59 Change of ownership: Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section)
Continued to be operated on contract by TAA, retained name Eric Donaldson
.60 Type changed to Drover Mk.3 after re-engining with Lycomings at Bankstown
3.61 Log: VH-DRE flying almost daily until end of 1961
6.12.62 Arrived Brisbane Airport for annual CofA renewal by TAA
31.12.63 Completed inspection Brisbane, repainted as VH-FDT during the overhaul
1.63 Re-registered VH-FDT
1.2.63 noted at Brisbane Airport, RFDS scheme, name Eric Donaldson
2.2.63 Departed Brisbane on ferry to RFDS base, probably Mount Isa. Log: 5 hours flying
9.63 noted at Brisbane Airport
24.6.64 noted at Brisbane Airport
14.7.64 arrived Bankstown from repairs by Hawker De Havilland to fire damage in right engine
9.9.64 departed Bankstown for Queensland
14.1.66 Log: maintenance by TAA at Townsville
20.7.68 Log: base check maintenance inspection
10.9.68 Change of ownership: Hawker De Havilland (Australia) Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW
Traded in to Beech agents Hawker De Havilland on replacement RFDS Beech Queen Air
18.10.68 Log: No.1 Service carried out (no location quoted, probably by HdeH Bankstown)
24.10.68 noted at Bankstown, parked outside Hawker De Havilland hangar as Mk.3 with horizontal tailplane, parked alongside retired VH-FDS. both full RFDS scheme.  Noted unmoved 3.11.68, 16.11.68, 24.11.68
31.12.68 noted at Bankstown as Mk.3 with horizontal tailplane
c2.69 Type changed to Drover Mk.3B, modified by Hawker De Havilland at Bankstown
12.2.69 Struck-off Register at owner's request
22.2.69 Registered VP-PAP New Hebrides Airways trading as Air Melanesiae, Port Vila, New Hebrides
1.3.69 VP-PAP noted at Bankstown
13.4.69 VP-PAP noted at Bankstown, new paint scheme "Air Melanesiae" titles
3.5.69 VP-PAP noted at Bankstown. "Air Melanesiae"
15.5.69 Departed Bankstown on ferry flight to New Hebrides, flown by Jim Hazelton and Laurie McIver, over-nighted at Brisbane. Departed to Noumea next day. but returned to Brisbane due weather. Flew Brisbane-Noumea on 17.5.69
17.5.69 Damaged on landing at Vila, when ran off runway due brake failure, pilot Warren Stewart
19.5.69 Log: new propeller installed
23.5.69 Test flown Vila after repairs
31.5.59
Damaged again in accident at Port Vila.
5.59
Airframe Log: no flying until 12.69
12.12.69 Test flight Port Vila after maintenance and propeller change
13.12.69 Test flight Port Vila

Airframe Log: not flown again until 5.70
27.5.70 Test flight Port Vila
2.6.70 Test flight Port Vila

Note: VP-PAP did not fly any airline services in New Hebrides

Bob Paul, founder of New Hebrides Airways, later wrote: "VP-PAP was a Mk.3B we purchased from RFDS through Hawker De Havilland. Delivered to Vila, landing accident Vila owing to brake failure, pilot Warren Stewart. Sent back to Hawker De Havilland by agreement that aircraft was not up to specification."
15.6.70 Log: departed Port Vila on ferry flight back to Bankstown. Routed via Noumea, New Caledonia and Brisbane, overnighted Brisbane.  
12.7.70 VP-PAP noted at Bankstown, Air Melanesiae scheme and titles, name Big Thunder on nose, also 19.7.70
22.8.70 Struck-off New Hebrides Register
19.9.70 noted at Bankstown, repainted as VH-EOO, no titles
20.9.70 noted at Bankstown, repainted as VH-EOO, no titles
22.9.70 Registered VH-EOO Ronald C. Muir, Bankstown NSW
(Muir operated an aircraft sales business and was a partner in Islander Aircraft Sales at Bankstown)
10.70 noted at Bankstown, silver with white roof, no titles
11.70 noted at Bankstown
11.4.71 Flew from Bankstown to Port MacQuarie NSW for the day, to attend an airshow. Pilot Ron Muir with 7 passengers.
2.72 noted at Bankstown, no titles
30.4.72 noted at Bankstown, no titles
3.7.72 Change of ownership: Ken D. Waterford, Sydney NSW
(Waterford traded as Gypsie Carpets Pty Ltd, Bass Hill, Sydney)
29.7.72 noted at Bankstown, flying joyrides
29.9.72 Change of ownership: International Aircraft Co Pty Ltd, Adelaide SA
Holding company for Coveair Pty Ltd, Adelaide
1.10.72 Arrived Parafield on delivery from Bankstown, visited Adelaide Airport later that day
7.10.72 noted at Adelaide Airport, now painted as "Island Air"
18.10.72 Change of ownership: Coveair Pty Ltd, Adelaide SA

Operated scheduled passenger services from Adelaide Airport to Yorketown and Kangaroo Island, for Island Air, later repainted as Coveair
21.12.72 Tailwheel damaged at Adelaide Airport
30.3.73 A propeller struck the ground during engine run at Kangaroo Island
5.5.73 noted at Parafield, "Island Air" titles
3.74 Withdrawn from service at Parafield SA, pending mandatory wingspar inspection
9.3.74 noted at Parafield, in Air Mist hangar with mainplanes removed. Stored alongside Coveair's spare parts Drover VH-FDC

Structural airworthiness issues with wingspar. Not economical to repair
4.9.74 noted at Parafield, dismantled in Air Mist hangar. Island Air's airworthy Drover FDU also in hangar
4.2.75 Struck-off Register at owner's request

Stored at Parafield
.78 Airframe donated to Airport Fire Service, Adelaide Airport for training use
11.5.78 Moved by road from Parafield to Adelaide Airport. Assembled at airport fire station
3.9.78 noted at Adelaide Airport fire station, cowlings fitted but no engines
21.6.79 noted at Adelaide Airport fire station, cowlings now removed
7.10.84 noted at Adelaide Airport fire station, engineless, weathered condition "IslandAIR"

Assumed destroyed for fire practice training


TAA publicity picture of a newly built VH-DRE.   Ben Dannecker collection



VH-DRE at Brisbane 9 December 1957, in the new RFDS scheme, retaining the TAA emblem under the cockpit.
Photo: TAA via Peter J. Ralph collection


Mk.2 VH-DRE with RFDS titles and TAA emblem under cockpit.    Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


Mk.3 VH-FDT at Bankstown in November 1968. Geoff Goodall collection


Now a Drover Mk.3B, VP-PAP seen on return to Bankstown June 1970. Photo by Roger McDonald

VH-EOO at Bankstown in July 1972. Photo by Roger McDonald


Adelaide-West Beach June 1973, operated by Island Air.   Photo by Michael Austin





C/n 5012                           Mk.1, Mk.1F, Mk.2, Mk.3, Mk.3B            George Simpson                                          VH-AZM, VH-DRF, VH-FDU, VP-PAF, VH-FDU


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5012

First of two ordered by Commonwealth Department of Health for operation by NT Medical Service, based Darwin
2.7.52 First flight Bankstown
3.7.52 CofA issued
9.7.52 Registered VH-AZM Commonwealth Department of Health, Canberra ACT, operated by Northern Territory Medical Service
10.7.52 DHA quoted delivery date to Dept of Health.
7.52 Ferried from Brisbane to Darwin on delivery by Jack Slade, NTMS Chief Pilot
26.7.52 NTMS acceptance date
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers in Darwin
.53 Type changed to Drover Mk.2 at Bankstown by DHA
5.6.58 Commonwealth Government agreed to donate this Drover to Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) when replaced by a DH.104 Dove with NTMS
12.9.59 NTMS retirement date
21.9.59 Change of ownership: Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) Inc
.59 Delivered to RFDS at Charleville where based. For some months flown by RFDS while retaining the white and red NTMS colour scheme with NTMS titles
1.61 Reregistered VH-DRF Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) Inc
Named George Simpson
11.61 Type changed to Drover Mk.3 after re-engining with Lycomings at Bankstown
5.64 Re-registered VH-FDU Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) Inc
Retained name George Simpson

Airframe Log records that the aircraft was repainted as VH-FDU during overhaul for CofA renewal between 6.4.64 and 22.5.64, by TAA at Brisbane Airport
14.9.66 VH-FDU noted at Brisbane Airport
5.67 Sold to Hawker De Havilland (Australia) Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport NSW
Traded in to Beech agents Hawker De Havilland on replacement RFDS Beech Queen Air.
Hawker De Havilland had already on-sold the aircraft to New Hebrides Airways
27.5.67 Arrived at Bankstown from Queensland on delivery to Hawker De Havilland as trade-in on a Beech Queen Air
6.67 Under overhaul at Bankstown by Hawker De Havilland, during which it was modified to Drover Mk. 3B.Repainted in white, blue and red scheme and "Air Melanesiae" titles and registration VP-PAF
20.6.67 Struck-off Australian Register.
24.6.67 Registered VP-PAF New Hebrides Airways Ltd, Port Vila, operating as Air Melanesiae
19.7.67 Log: test flown Bankstown
21.7.67 Log: test flown Bankstown
29.7.67 VP-PAF noted at Bankstown, parked outside HdeH hangar, Air Melanesiae titles
1.8.67 VP-PAF noted at Bankstown, parked outside HdeH hangar, Air Melanesiae titles
8.67 Ferried Bankstown-Brisbane-Port Vila by Jim Hazelton
19.8.67 Log: commenced service with Air Melanesiae, daily flights
8.3.69 Damaged on landing Lamap, New Hebrides when ran off strip due ground-loop caused by brake failure. Aircraft damaged, including 4 feet torn off a wingtip.
19.3.69 Log: flown out to Vila after repair at Lamap

Repaired at Port Vila

Log: not flown until 12.69
12.12.69 Log: test flight
13.12.69 Log: test flight

Log: not flown until 11.72.
Note: if the airframe log book records are complete, VP-PAF did not fly any airline services in New Hebrides after 3.69 until 11.72 when ferried back to Australia.

New Hebrides Airways founder Bob Paul wrote in 1986: "VP-PAF was a Mark 3B Drover with V tail and Lycoming motors - far better performance than the Mk.2 with Gipsys. This was the first Mk.3 purchased by New Hebrides Airways (Air Melanesae) and was ferried up by Jim Hazelton. Brake failure on landing at Lamap caused a violent ground-loop and a wingtip was sheared off. The aircraft was flown back to Vila by Warren Stewart with four feet off the wing. It was repaired in Vila, sold to Ron Muir."
.72 Sale negotiated with Ron Muir Aircraft Sales, Bankstown
20.11.72 Log: test flight
1-4.12.72 Log: ferried Port Vila to Sydney
1.12.72 VP-PAF noted at Noumea on return to Australia. Replaced by BN-2A Islander VP-PAS which was ferried via Noumea-Port Vila 30.11.72
8.12.72 Restored to Register as Mk.3B VH-FDU International Aircraft Co Pty Ltd, Adelaide SA
(Holding company for Coveair)
16.12.72 VH-FDU noted at Bankstown, no titles
31.12.72 arrived Adelaide Airport on delivery from Sydney
4.1.73 Change of ownership: Coveair Pty Ltd, Adelaide SA
6.1.73 noted at Parafield, still with “New Hebrides Airways Ltd” titles on fuselage
13.1.73 noted at Adelaide Airport, now painted in "Island Air" markings

Operated scheduled passenger services from Adelaide Airport to Yorketown and Kangaroo Island under name Island Air, later Coveair
10.3.73 noted at Adelaide Airport, "Island Air"
13.4.73 Damaged when ran through a fence at Yorketown SA. Takeoff was abandoned following loss of power in port engine
25.3.73 Forced landing in paddock at Port Stanvac due fue expiry on scheduled Kangaroo island-Adelaide service. No damage, flown out and returned to service.
4.9.74 noted at Parafield, parked in Air Mist hangar. "Island Air" titles. Drover VH-EOO dismantled in rear of the hangar
15.2.75 noted at Parafield, overhaul in Robbys hangar. Completed by 8.3.75
29.3.75 noted at Adelaide Arport, "Island Air" titles have been replaced with "Coveair"
21.4.75 Change of ownership: Armor Coatings (Australasia) Pty Ltd, Adelaide SA
Armor Coatings (Mr. Van Reesma) had purchased a controlling interest in Coveair
4.75 Continued flying Coveair scheduled services to Kangaroo Island, "Coveair" titles
28.2.76 noted at Parafield, parked on grass
27.3.76 noted at Adelaide Airport, "Coveair" titles
5.76 Retired at Parafield SA
29.5.76 noted at Parafield, parked on grass out from Robbys hangar, retired. 
25.6.77 noted at Parafield, unmoved on grass, faded Coveair paintwork. Also 30.7.77
23.4.78 noted at Parafield, unmoved, faded Coveair paintwork “Island Air” also showing through
30.1.79 noted at Parafield, unmoved on grass, high unmowed grass under aircraft
79 Impounded by Department of Transport for unpaid Air Navigation Charges
22.12.79 towed from its parking spot of the past 3 years to large ex-DAP hangar now used by general aviation aircraft by Parafield-based aircraft engineer Jim Jenkins. Stored inside hangar. Jenkins hoped to acquire the aircraft as a restoration project
21.4.80 Struck-off Register
80 Purchased by John Pope, Adelaide SA
(Pope headed a sydicate building an airworthy Fokker trimor replica VH-USU in the ex-DAP hangar at Parafield. VH-FDU parked in same hangar, complete.)
10.80 noted at Parafield, parked complete in ex DAP hangar, very faded paintwork. "Island Air" and "Coveair" titles visible over top of each other.
17.1.91 Restored to Register VH-FDU: Ronald A. Lee, Melbourne Vic.
(Ron Lee was a licenced aircraft engineer and noted warbird restorer, at the time working for Malcolm Long's Air Gold Coast maintenance facility at Coolangatta Qld. Lee also maintained Long's collection of military aircraft which had been moved from Chewing Gum Field Air Museum Qld to Air World, Wangaratta during 1986)
3.91 noted at Moorabbin flying, restored in accurate RFDS paint scheme, retained RFDS name George Simpson
3.93 noted at Moorabbin
94 Under restoration by owner Ron Lee
01 VH-FDU displayed at Air World museum, Wangaratta Vic.
1.02 Air World closed due financial losses
02 VH-FDU parked in Air World hangar at Wangaratta, still owned by Ron Lee
30.9.06 noted at Wangaratta, parked outside Airworld hangar, "RFDS" paint scheme
24.10.06 noted at Wangaratta, "RFDS"
08 Still based at Wangaratta, parked in the ex-Air World hangar which has been taken over by Precision Aerospace Products for warbird restorations
26.6.10 Ferried to Coolangatta Qld from Wangaratta.
17.10.10
noted Caboolture, parked outside the Warplane Museum hangar
10 Displayed at Caboolture Warplane Museum, Caboolture Airport Qld

Current, owned Ron A. Lee, Elanora Qld
Long-term loan to Caboolture Warplane Museum
2.14 VH-FDU noted parked on grass outside the museum hangar at Caboolture, with CAC Winjeel VH-BFX, both complete but not airworthy

Current at Caboolture Qld

VH-AZM in service with NT Medical Service. Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


VP-PAF at Bankstown 1 August 1967.  Photo by Roger McDonald


VH-FDU Bankstown 16 December 1972,  just before delivery to Adelaide. Photo by Roger McDonald


VH-FDU at Adelaide under apron lighting, January 1974. Photo by Peter Ricketts


Adelaide Airport April 1975, now with Coveair titles. Photo by Mike Madden


Parafield October 1980 after years parked in the weather. The operating names Island Air and Coveair are both readable due faded paint.
Photo by Chris O'Neill


Moorabbin March 1991, fresh from major restoration by Ron Lee. Photo by Mike Madden




C/n  5013                          Mk.1, Mk.1F, Mk.2, Mk.3, Mk.3A                 John Flynn                                                                                               VH-FDC


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5013

Ordered by Flying Doctor Service of Australia (NSW Section) Inc. To replace a DH.84 Dragon at their base at Broken Hill NSW
3.6.52 First flight Bankstown
24.6.52 Registered VH-FDC Flying Doctor Service of Australia (NSW Section), Broken Hill NSW
later renamed Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (NSW Section), Broken Hill NSW
Named John Flynn
24.6.52 CofA issued. Fitted with 2 stretchers, 3 seats for doctor, nurse and passenger.
4.7.52
Official hand-over to FDS at Bankstown
6.7.52
Ceremony at Broken Hill for the arrival of the new aircraft
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F  by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
.54 Type changed to Drover Mk.2 at Bankstown by DHA 
.61 Type changed to Drover Mk.3 after re-engining with Lycomings at Bankstown
2.10.62 visited Adelaide Airport, green and white with red cross, horizontal tailplane
.62 Type changed to Drover Mk.3A after fitted with dihedral tailplane by DHA at Bankstown
3.63 visited Adelaide-Parafield, dihedral tailplane
28.3.66 visited Adelaide Airport on medivac flight
27.10.66 visited Melbourne-Moorabbin Airport
16.11.66 visited Bankstown
14.7.67 visited Brisbane-Archerfield, probably in connection with delivery of RFDS Beagle 206 VH-FDA to Archerfield 22.7.67 from Britain
21.10.67 noted at Broken Hill, home base. Green and white with RFDS titles, in service
11.67 based Broken Hill
9.68 retired by RFDS at Broken Hill, both Drovers replaced by Beagle 206s
10.68 noted at Bankstown, retired, parked on grass opposite HdeH hangar
3.11.68 noted at Bankstown, retired, RFDS scheme and titles, also 16.11.68, 24.11.68
15.10.69 noted at Bankstown
28.11.69 Struck-off Register at owner's request
20.9.70 noted at Bankstown
70 Purchased by Tom Harrison, Sydney NSW. Acquired just for the Lycoming engines.
Harrison operated a mixed fleet of floatplanes: Auster, PA-20, PA-22, PA-28.
10.2.71 noted at Bankstown with nose engine removed. High uncut grass under the aircraft.
2.72 noted at Bankstown, all engines removed
.73 Airframe sold for spare parts to Coveair Pty Ltd, Adelaide SA
26.4.73 VH-FDC arrived Parafield Airport, Adelaide by truck from Bankstown. Wings were moved into the Air Mist hangar, fuselage was left in a compound outside
22.6.73 fuselage moved from compound into Air Mist hangar
9.3.74 FDC noted at Parafield, dismantled in Air Mist hangar where Drover VH-EOO was having an overhaul
.78 Donated to Airport Fire Service, Adelaide Airport for training use
11.5.78 Moved by road from Parafield to Adelaide Airport, left unassembled at the fire station in centre of airport
5.78 Purchased "as is" for $1200 by Bill Kinsman for Central Australian Air Museum, Alice Springs NT
6.78 Moved by road from Adelaide Airport to Alice Springs
20.1.79 noted at old Townsite Aerodrome, Alice Springs, in hangar which will be the site of the new CAAM. Drover was assembled, engineless and other parts missing. Still in RFDS green and white paintwork.
81 CAAM, displayed inside hangar at the old Townsite aerodrome Alice Springs
97 CAAM, displayed on poles outside museum, green and white RFDS paint scheme
9.01 CAAM Alice Springs on poles, in good condition, Lycoming engines "RFDS VH-FDC"
5.05 CAAM Alice Springs. A plate says this was museum's first aircraft, arriving 5.78

Currently displayed at Central Australian Air Museum



VH-FDC John Flynn as a Mk.2 in original metallic and white, prior to the name change to Royal Flying Doctor Service inb 1958.
Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


Rare colour view of VH-FDC in original metallic and white scheme. Ben Dannecker collection

Adelaide October 1962 as a Mk.3, re-engined wth Lycomings but not yet modified with the dihedral tailplane. Green and white
with red crosses and name John Flynn under cockpit. Photo by Geoff Goodall


Bankstown November 1968, after it was retired by RFDS. Photo: The Collection


Central Australian Aviation Museum, February 2002.   Photo by Paul Howard





C/n 5014                           Mk.1, Mk.1F, Mk.2                                                                                                              VH-EAZ, VH-EAS, G-APXX, "VH-FDT"

. Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5014

Fifth of 7 Drovers ordered by Qantas Empire Airways to be based in New Guinea
7.4.52 Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
Aircraft due for completion in June 1952
Application signed by Norman W. Roberts, QEA Chief Inspector
15.7.52 First flight Bankstown
23.7.52 Registered VH-EAZ Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
23.7.52 CofA issued
30.7.52 DHA quoted delivery date to QEA.  Qantas record give the same date for acceptance.
8.52
Delivered from Sydney to Lae, where based with QEA New Guinea Internal Services
.52 Type changed to Drover Mk.1F by fitting Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
6.3.53 Pilot Log: flying from Lae, Captain T.E.W.Howes
23.7.53 Annual CofA renewal at Lae
24.1.54 Pilot Log: Lae-Bulolo-Lae, next day Lae-Bulolo-Wau, both Captain T.E.W. Howes
25.5.54 Airframe Log: converted from Mk.1F to Drover Mk.2 at Bankstown by DHA
5.54 VH-EAZ is the last Qantas Drover left in New Guinea
8.54 Pilot log: flights in New Guinea on August 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 31
23.2.55 Pilot log: commenced regular daily charter Bulolo-Menyaymya-Bulolo, Captain Howes. Charter completed 31.3.55
7.4.55 Pilot log: Lae-Bulolo-Wau-Bulolo-Lae, Captain Howes
18.8.58 Re-registered VH-EAS in a Qantas re-allocation of fleet registrations. The aircraft was in storage and was not repainted with the changed registration.
.59 Qantas negotiating sale to an English operator through aircraft brokers W.S.Shackleton Ltd, London
9.12.59 VH-EAS Change of ownership: Air Navigation and Trading Co Ltd, Blackpool.

This company had made several applications since 1953 for an airline licence to operate scheduled services between Blackpool and London, quoting aircraft types DH Rapide, Avro Anson and DHA.3 Drover. The applications were not successful.
15.12.59 Registered G-APXX Air Navigation and Trading Co Ltd, Squires Gate Aerodrome, Blackpool.
1.9.60 Struck-off Australian Register, sold to Great Britain
1.9.60 Qantas "disposal date". Total time since new: 1325 hrs 51 mins

Shipped to Great Britain
19.9.61 Finally arrived by road at Blackpool-Squires Gate Airport from Liverpool Docks, still in Qantas paint scheme as VH-EAZ

Never assembled at Blackpool. No British CofA issued, went derelict at Blackpool
8.62 Stored unassembled by AN&T at Squires Gate
3.3.63 VH-EAZ noted at Squires gate in AN&T hangar, reported being worked on
4.64 Stored unassembled by AN&T at Squires Gate, "untouched since arrival"
10.65 noted at Squires Gate, derelict condition

remained dismantled at Squires Gate, dismantled in poor condition
.67 Acquired ex AN &T by British Historic Air Museum, Southend
19.5.67 Arrived at Southend by road from Blackpool.
5.67 Assembled at Southend Aerodrome by Aviation Traders, displayed at museum in Qantas scheme
5.9.67 Damaged at museum by gales which blew Miles Magister G-AIDF/"P6411" against the Drover
18.10.70 towed to new BHAM site on western side of Southend Airport
26.5.72 Official opening of new museum site, renamed Southend Historical Aircraft Museum
.73 repainted at BHAM as "RFDS VH-FDT" in the RFDS scheme adopted by their Lycoming Drover Mk.3s 
26.11.73 Struck-off British Register
10.5.83 Sold at BHAM closing down auction at Southend to Douglas Arnold/ Warbirds of Great Britain Ltd. Price 1,700. Planned use as an aircraft trade item.
.83 Moved by road from Southend to Blackbushe for storage
.85 Doug Arnold disposed of several of his stored aircraft. Loaned to Second World War Aircraft Preservation Society, Lasham.
7.85 noted at Lasham in SWWAPS museum collection
97 at Lasham in museum collection, very faded RFDS paintwork
10.09 at Lasham in museum collection, extremely faded RFDS paintwork, compete
11.09 Second World War Aircraft Preservation Society was wound up. The Drover was offered to De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre at London Colney but it was declined on 18.11.09 due lack of display space.
.10 Moved by road from Lasham to Wycombe Air Park, Booker where stored dismantled at Parkhouse Aviation
5.8.13 Arrived by road at St Athan for restoration

VH-EAZ at Brisbane-Eagle Farm circa 1953.  Photo by Gus Gruelke


VH-EAZ in New Guinea, now modifed to Mk.2.  Phjoto: Geoff Goodall collection


Displayed at Southend Historical Aircraft Museum as "VH-FDT".  Photo by Nigel Daw




C/n 5015                           Mk.1, Mk.2                                                                                                                                        (VH-EAY), VQ-FAR

.52 Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5015

Sixth of 7 Drovers ordered by Qantas Empire Airways to be based in New Guinea
14.3.52 DCA allocated registration VH-EAY
1.7.52 Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney
Application states "aircraft currently under construction"
29.8.52 First flight Bankstown
4.9.52 CofA issued
11.9.52
DHA records quote this as Delivery Date to QEA
9.52 Registration VH-EAY not taken up. Qantas refused to accept the last two aircraft of their order, due to the propeller failures.
  Stored at Bankstown, white with red trim, no titles
.55 Sold to Fiji Airways
.56 Taken out of storage and modified to Drover Mk.2 by DHA at Bankstown
.56 testflown at Bankstown as Mk.2: assumed, no record found
3.56 Packed in two wooden cases by DHA at Bankstown. Shipped to Fiji
23.4.56 Registered as a Mk.2 VQ-FAR Katafanga Estates Ltd trading as Fiji Airways Ltd, Suva
12.63 3rd airframe log 12.63 to 4.65: regular flying in Fiji. Log ends
20.7.66 Last flight. Retired Suva-Nausori Airport, Fiji
19.10.67 Struck-off Register
.68 Airframe donated to Derrick Technical Institute, Suva.
68-70 Held dismantled at Nausori Airport
.72 Moved to Air Pacific Aircraft School, Nausori Airport, Suva

Instructional airframe, one engine sectioned for training

Airframe washed away during a flood

5015 being packed by DH at Bankstown for shipping to Fiji Airways in 1956.   Geoff Goodall collection


VQ-FAR in service with Fiji Airways.  Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


VQ-FAR at Suva in 1968 as an instructional airframe.  Photo: Allan Bovelt collection





C/n 5016                          Mk.1, Mk.2                                                                                                                                              (VH-EAX), VQ-FAS, VP-PAC

.52 Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5016

Seventh of 7 Drovers ordered by Qantas Empire Airways to be based in New Guinea
1.7.52 Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways, Sydney NSW
Aircraft under construction.
Application quoted original De Havilland variable pitch propellers
DCA allocated registration VH-EAX
28.10.52 First flight Bankstown
1.11.52 Delivery date to Qantas. However Qantas refused to accept the last two aircraft of their order due to propeller failures.
3.11.52 CofA issued
11.52 VH-EAX not taken up

Stored at Bankstown by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd
.56 Sale negotiated to Fiji Airways as replacement of Drovers lost in accidents
.56 Taken out of storage and modified to Drover Mk.2 by DHA at Bankstown
.56 testflown at Bankstown as Mk.2: assumed, no record found

Packed into two wooden crates at Bankstown for shipping to Fiji
28.5.56 DHA delivery date to Fiji Airways
6.7.56 Registered as Mk.2 VQ-FAS Katafanga Estates Ltd, trading as Fiji Airways Ltd, Suva
11.7.61 Commenced hire-purchase lease to New Hebrides Airways, Port Vila
11.12.62 Sold to New Hebrides Airways, Port Vila
4.5.63 Ferried Fiji to New Hebrides after maintenance by Fiji Airways

Retained Fijian registration because New Hebrides administration had no aviation section or Civil Aircraft Register
8.65 Retired at Port Vila due expiry of wing-spar life. Total flying time: 8,105 hours

Bob Paul, founder of New Hebrides Airways later wrote "VQ-FAS was a very good aircraft and gave sterling service until it ran out of spar life and was written off. No serious accidents were experienced by this aircraft apart from damage to the fuselage belly after taxying over an obstruction."

Dismantled for spare parts
1.6.66 Re-registered VP-PAC New Hebrides Airways, Port Vila
(Transferred to the newly established New Hebrides Civil Aircraft Register. However the Drover had been withdrawn from service the previous year and did not use the new registration)
8.7.67 Struck-of Register
74 dismantled airframe at Port Vila Airport
86 fuselage in back garden of a house in Port Vila

VQ-FAS awaits passengers at Nadi International Airport, Fiji circa 1959.   Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


VQ-FAS in New Hebrides Airways service, at Port Vila in the Solomon Islands.  Photo: Ben Dannecker collection




C/n 5017                        Mk.1F, Mk.2                                                                                                                                                                VH-AZN

52 Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5017

Second of two ordered by Commonwealth Department of Health to be operated by NT Medical Service
29.10.52 First flight Bankstown, completed as Drover Mk.1F
18.11.52 CofA issued
20.11.52 Registered VH-AZN Commonwealth Department of Health, Canberra ACT:
operated by Northern Territory Medical Service. Based Alice Springs NT.
20.11.52 CofA isued as Mk.1F, Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers
20.11.52 DHA quoted delivery date to Department of Health

VH-AZN collected at Bankstown by Captain Harry Moss and ferried to Alice Springs
1.1.53 NT Medical Service acceptance date. Based at Alice Springs, and operated under contract by TAA. Experienced NTMS pilot Harry Moss became TAA Alice Springs Station Captain Harry Moss
1.53 NTMS Alice Springs base began as a one pilot base under TAA Captain Moss. Because at first Connellan Airways still held an existing RFDS contract for Alice Springs covering medical emergencies, NTMS conducted the routine medical circuits carrying a doctor and nurse, stopping at numerous settlements and station properties where clinics were conducted.
XX Type changed to Drover Mk.2 at Bankstown by DHA
57 Still based at Alice Springs
26.4.57 Crashed "Austral Downs" Station, via Camooweal NT.
Crash location was 57 miles south of Camooweal near the NT/Queensland border.
TAA Captain Richard Paul was relieving TAA Captain Harry Moss as resident NTMS pilot at Alice Springs NT. Paul had just departed Camooweal Qld to return to Alice Springs, carrying the doctor and nurse. They had been asked to look out for a missing stockman on horseback.
DCA accident report: “Some 40 miles out of Camooweal, the pilot sighted a lone horseman. Preparations were being made in the circling aircraft to drop a message in order to establish the rider’s identity when the aircraft struck level ground near the Border Fence and slid some 85 metres before coming to rest in a substantially damaged condition.”

Captain Paul suffered serious head injuries and the two passengers minor injuries.

The horse rider ignored the circling aircraft and rode away, unaware the aircraft had crashed. An RFDS Drover and ground parties reached the site later the same day. The two passengers were returned to Camooweal in a vehicle.
However Dick Paul needed urgent medical attention, and was flown to Mount Isa hospital by the RFDS Drover. His condition required urgent transfer to Brisbane, and no airline flight was available. A BOAC Britannia on scheduled service Darwin-Brisbane agreed to divert to collect him but Mount Isa runways were unsuitable and nearest location with required runway length was Cloncurry. A TAA DC-3 carried him from Mount Isa to Cloncurry, but the Britannia's main wheels broke through the taxiway surface pavement after landing. It was unable to move. With no other choice, Captain Paul was re-loaded on board the TAA DC-3 which then took him to Brisbane, where he recovered in hospital.  The Britannia was stranded at Cloncurry for 3 days and its passengers accommodated with families in town.

VH-AZN stripped for spare parts at Austral Downs then abandoned
22.4.79 Airframe wreck acquired by Mount Isa Tourist Association. Components would be used in the static restoration of VH-DRD at Mount Isa as an RFDS display
.79 Sections recovered at "Austral Downs" Station, and moved by road to Mount Isa
7.79 Project transferred to Rotary Club of Mount Isa

Static rebuild project at Mount Isa, based on the fuselage and sections of VH-DRD salvaged from "Mooraberrie" Station Qld
8.81 Rebuild completed, painted in TAA scheme as VH-DRD.

Mounted on poles, displayed in town on Mount Isa

Current

VH-AZN at Eagle Farm Airport, Brisbane circa 1953. This poor picture, apparently taken in fog, is the only photograph located of
this Drover while in service.  Photo by Gus Gruelke


Crash scene at Austral Downs Station, Qld in April 1957.   Phoito: Ben Dannecker collection




C/n 5018                        Mk.2                Lach Nicolson, Keppel Islander, Seabird                                                                          (VH-DRF), VH-AZS


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5018

Sixth of 6 Drovers ordered by Trans Australia Airlines

DCA allocated registration VH-DRF for TAA: not taken up
3.10.52 Registration application: Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic
Application quoted original De Havilland variable pitch propellers
.52
TAA cancelled the order for their sixth aircraft because the certification delays had resulted in deliveries being well behind contracted schedule.
.52 Construction completed but not test flown. Stored at Bankstown with the two cancelled Qantas Drovers.
.55 Ordered by Department of Health for NT Medical Service.
.55 Completed at Bankstown as Drover Mk.2
26.6.55 First flight Bankstown
1.7.55 CofA issued
1.7.55 Registered VH-AZS Commonwealth Department of Health, Canberra ACT operated by Northern Territory Medical Service
2.7.55 DHA quoted delivery date to Department of Health
27.7.55 NTMS acceptance date, their third Drover
27.4.57
VH-AZS flown by TAA F/O Frank Savage, flew Darwin to Camooweal to collect the doctor and nurse from the NTMS Drover VH-AZN, which crashed nearby the previous day. Savage then flew them to their home base Alice Springs.
25.9.61 Retirement date by NTMS. Replaced by a DH.104 Dove
1.11.61
Change of ownership: Trans Australia Airlines, Brisbane Qld
14.6.62
TAA engineering records show this as date in service
16.8.62 Leased by TAA for 3 months to Lindeman Island Pty Ltd, Mackay Qld.
Joined Drover VH-ADN based at Mackay flying tourists and supplies to the Lindeman Island resort. Name Lach Nicolson painted on, after the son of the resort's founder.
16.8.62
noted Brisbane Airport, white and blue, TAA titles
11.62 Returned to TAA at Brisbane Airport. Held for future leases to Lindeman Island Pty Ltd.
23.1.64 noted at Brisbane Airport in TAA hangar, blue & white TAA titles, also 9.2.64
24.6.64 noted at Brisbane Airport, outside TAA hangar, TAA scheme
23.9.64 noted at Brisbane Airport, outside TAA hangar, TAA scheme. Propellers marked "Inhibited 3.9.64"
65 Leased by TAA to Lindeman Island Pty Ltd, Mackay Qld.
4.6.65 Pilot log: flew Mackay-Lindeman Island-Mackay almost daily until 20.9.65, pilot TAA Captain Bill Parry
11.9.65
noted Mackay Qld, in passenger service, Lindeman titles
15.8.66 noted at Mackay, "Lindeman" titles, with Lindeman's Drover VH-ADN and Aztec VH-ALN
8.67 Overhaul by TAA at Brisbane Airport and repainted in basic TAA scheme but "Lindeman" titles replaced by "Coralair - operated by Countryair"
2.10.67 Leased by TAA to Countryair Services Pty Ltd, Rockhampton Qld
Charter operator Countryair had a 6 month lease, with option to extend, to operate a TAA tourist service from Rockhampton to the Great Keppel island resort.
Named Keppel Islander
11.67 Included in published TAA timetables for first time, as "Coralair services, Rockhampton"
31.12.67 noted at Rockhampton, boarding passengers at airline terminal building
10.2.68 noted at Rockhampton
1.69 noted Rockhampton Qld, based here "Coralair" titles
21.3.69 Lease to Countryair completed, returned to TAA at Brisbane Airport
7.4.69 Ferried Rockhampton-Brisbane Airport and parked at TAA hangar.
28.8.69 TAA retirement date
11.10.69 noted at Brisbane Airport, at TAA hangar, "Coralair" titles, name Keppel Islander. Also 23.9.70

Held by TAA for a proposed company museum, with the Drover recognising TAA operation of Royal Flying Doctor Service and NT Medical Service. Placed up for disposal when the company museum plans were dropped.
8.3.72 TAA disposal date
23.3.72 Change of ownership Lawrence A. Cheras, G. Shannon & P. l. Piesse, Brisbane Qld
13.5.72 noted at Brisbane-Archerfield, TAA titles removed, also 21.5.72, 31.5.72
1.4.73 flew a passenger charter from Archerfield to an airshow at RAAF Amberley
8.7.74 noted at Archerfield, large titles "Errol Stewart's Bunch of Softies" to promote a Brisbane electrical goods retailer Errol Stewart's Warehouse. Flew low and slow along beaches at Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
15.8.74
noted at Archerfield, large titles "Errol Stewart's Bunch of Softies"
5.12.74 Change of ownership: Donald C. Adams, Pialba Qld, trading as Offshore Aviation
"Lady Elliot Island" painted on tail, and name Seabird on nose
74/75 Used along with Cessna 336 VH-CMU to develop Lady Elliot Island resort, not commuter airline services. Lady Elliot Island was a coral island just north of the larger Fraser island at the southernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef. An airstrip had been built on Lady Elliot Island by Don Adams' previous business Island Aviation
4.1.75 noted at Archerfield, "Offshore Aviation" and "Lady Elliot Island" titles, name Seabird
10.3.75 Change of ownership: Tangalooma Aviation Pty Ltd, Brisbane Qld c/- Don C. Adams
Painted as "Tangalooma Aviation" and name Seabird
75/76 Tangalooma Island had previously been served by Islandair which operated "on demand" charters from Brisbane to Tangalooma Island with BN-2A Islander VH-AIA in an agreement with the island resort owners. On 13.3.73 the newly formed Tangalooma Aviation purchased VH-AIA and took over the Brisbane Airport-Tangalooma route. The Drover replaced VH-AIA but did not operate as a commuter airline: VH-AZS was registered in Private category to only carry resort guests.
Islandair (Unionair) continued to operate its own services to Tangalooma for a number of years to the late 1970s
12.6.75 noted at Archerfield, "Tangalooma Aviation" titles and name Seabird
10.75 noted at Archerfield, ”Tangalooma Aviation" titles and name Seabird
.76 AZS traded in on a Partenavia P68B VH-FAB to the agents, Forrestair, Melbourne. Forrestair immediately on-sold the Drover to Joe Drage, Wodonga Vic who was establishing a collection of vintage aircraft
2.76 Ferried from Archerfield to Essendon by airline pilot Barry Bell and Joe Drage, flying time 6hrs 30 mins
28.2.76 noted at Essendon Vic, with titles "Drage's Historical Aircraft Museum"
25.3.76 Register Change of ownership date: Forrestair Pty Ltd, Essendon Airport Vic
21.5.76 Change of ownership: Joeseph G. Drage, Wodonga Vic trading as Drage's Historical Aircraft Museum. Based in large hangar built on Joe Drages farm near Wodonga.
6.11.76
noted at Joe Drage’s farm at Wodonga Vic
29.1.77 noted at Albury NSW. Drage's aircraft based here when farm strip unavailable
3.4.77 visited Sunbury Vic flyin, pilot Joe Drage
2.10.77 noted at Albury NSW
4.6.78 visited Shepparton Vic flyin
25.11.78 flying at Joe Drage’s farm airstrip at Wodonga Vic
11.2.79 visited Lilydale Vic airshow
4.3.79 visited Ballarat Vic airshow
17.6.79 noted at Wodonga Vic, flying from Drage's farm strip
6.1.81 noted at Wodonga Vic
23.1.83 noted at Albury NSW "Drage's Historical Aircraft Museum" titles
1.85 Drage in partnership with City of Wangaratta established Drage Airworld in a large new hangar at Wangaratta Airport, which included a cafeteria and interstate bus station
27.1.85 VH-AZS ferried Wodonga-Wangaratta with other airworthy aircraft of the Drage collection to new Drage Airworld hangar
3.4.85 Change of ownership: City of Wangaratta, Wangaratta Vic
3.88 visited Mangalore Vic airshow
15.10.88 visited RAAF Richmond airshow
8.96 Auction announced for disposal of 10 aircraft of the Airworld Collection, which had been forced to rationalise to be able to continue. Among the ten aircraft was Drover VH-AZS
19.11.96 Sold at auction of selected Airworld Collection aircraft to John Clark, Geelong Vic who also purchased DH.85 VH-UUE. Both were flown out of Wangaratta in late .96
3.2.97 Change of ownership: CGC Bureau Services, Melbourne Vic (John Clark)
14.5.99 Change of ownership: Briar Hall Pty Ltd, Melbourne Vic (John Clark)
1.02 VH-AZS noted at Nelson Vic on Don McBain's airfield, faded paintwork. Ferried here for maintenance inspection. Reportedly has corrosion in some sections of the aiframe
1.5.02 noted at Nelson Vic
8.5.02 Change of ownership: M. F. Rockes, Melbourne Vic
27.8.02 Change of ownership back to: Briar Hall Pty Ltd, Melbourne Vic (John Clark)
4.11.03 noted at Nelson Vic having repairs on wings by vintage aircraft restorer Harvey McBain. “Drage’s Historical Aircraft Museum” titles still on the fuselage above the windows. It had been flown in from previous base at Torquay Vic.
9.05 Advertised for sale: partly dismantled, located at Nelson Vic: 3 Gipsy Major engines.
Photo with advertisement shows tail removed, engines in place but covered with tarpaulins and canvas, propellers removed.
12/13 stored dismantled in factory at warehouse at Southey Street, Williamstown, Melbourne. Owner John Clark.
.13 Purchased on behalf of Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport Vic
3.8.13 Moved by road from Williamstown to ANAM compound at Moorabbin Airport

VH-AZS in original Northern Territory Medical Service paint scheme. Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


VH-AZS repainted after TAA took over NTMS flying operations.  Photo: Roger McDonald collection


Brisbane-Eagle Farm in June 1964, between leases to Lindeman Island.   Photo by Barney B. Deatrick


Mackay Qld August 1966, in passenger service with Lindeman Island.  Photo by Roger McDonald


VH-AZS and -ADN behind, both Lindeman Island, Mackay August 1966.  Photo by Roger McDonald


Coralair and Countryair titles, Brisbane-Eagle Farm 1968.  Photo by Roger McDonald


Brisbane-Archerfield in July 1974 as a flying advertising billboard.  Photo by Ron Cuskelly


Archerfield in January 1975, Offshore Aviation titles.  Photo by Ron Cuskelly


Essendon March 1976, Drage's Historical Aircraft Museum, Wodonga titles.  Photo by Mike Madden


VH-AZS moving from storage to Moorabbin Airport on 3 August 2013.  Photo by Mark Pilkington





C/n 5019                           Mk.2, Mk.3,  Mk.3A                  The Inlander, Tania                                                       VH-FDA, VH-UNK, VH-UMA, ZK-DDD, VH-FBC


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5019
.53
Not completed, stored Bankstown waiting for a buyer
.56 Ordered by Flying Doctor Service of Australia (NSW Section) Inc.
.56 Completed at Bankstown as a Drover Mk.2 
28.6.56 First flight Bankstown
28.6.56 CofA issued
2.7.56 Registered VH-FDA Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (NSW Section),
Broken Hill NSW.
6.7.56 DHA quoted delivery date to FDS. Named The Inlander
10.7.56
Delivered from Bankstown to Broken Hill by RFDS Captain Vic Clover
5.59 Arrived Bankstown to be the first Drover re-engined with Lycoming engines by DHA
30.9.59 Test flown Bankstown after conversion.
VH-FDA then became the development aircraft for the Mk.3, being used for extensive test flying by DHA and later DCA certification flying for the Mk.3 model
29.5.60
displayed at Bankstown airshow as Mk.3, parked alongside Gipsy powered Drover 2 VH-AHZ for comparison
6.60 Civil Register changed type to Drover Mk.3
29.5.60 displayed at Bankstown airshow, parked alongside Gipsy powered Drover 2 VH-AHZ
4.6.60 Handed back to RFDS (NSW Section) by the Governor General, Lord Dunrossil in a ceremony at DHA’s works at Bankstown. It was painted in a new green and white scheme with red crosses. Retained the name The Inlander
6.62 Modified at Bankstown by DHA as Drover Mk.3A, fitted with 14 degree dihedral tailplane. This was the first Drover returned for the new design tail. Completed 7.62
3.11.62 noted at Bankstown, dihedral tailplane
10.4.63 noted at Adelaide-Parafield, dihedral tailplane
10.65 visited Adelaide Airport on a medivac
19.4.66 noted at Wilcannia NSW
9.67 retired by RFDS at Broken Hill, both Drovers to be replaced by Beagle 206s
7.9.67 noted at Bankstown, parked outside Hawker De Havilland hangar, still VH-FDA
7.9.67 Reregistered VH-UNK RFDS of Australia (NSW Section), Sydney NSW
Registration changed to clear the preferred VH-FDA marking for the replacement RFDS Beagle 206
12.9.67 Change of ownership: Beagle Aircraft Sales (Australasia) Pty Ltd, Sydney
10.67 noted at Mascot October & November 1967, parked outside Flight Facilities hangar, where associated companies Airfast Charter, Helicopter Utilities and Beagle Aircraft Sales were based. Parked for several days with VH-FDA registration painted over, then roughly repainted as VH-UNK.
The VH-UN series was used by these companies for some years, based on their re-organisation from an earlier Sydney charter company United Air.
10.11.67 Change of ownership: Hazair Sales & Service Pty Ltd, Orange NSW
10.11.67 Reregistered VH-UMA
18.11.67 noted at Mascot, still with VH-UNK roughly painted on tail. Also 22.11.67
2.1.68
noted at Orange NSW still painted as VH-UNK
25.4.68 noted at Orange in Hazair hangar, still with VH-UNK on tail. Retains RFDS green and white paint scheme, titles and name The Inlander
22.6.68 noted at Bankstown, repainted in a red, white & blue Piper Aztec style scheme as VH-UMA, no titles
25.6.68 VH-UMA noted at Bankstown. Also 20.7.68
1.9.68 noted at Orange NSW, white with red and blue Piper Aztec style trim.
5.11.68 noted at Bankstown. Also 24.11.68, 31.12.68, 15.10.69
9.11.69 visited Hoxton Park NSW airshow
23.12.69 Change of ownership: Country Publishing Holdings Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
26.12.69 noted at Mascot.
12.69 based at Mascot, operated by Oscar Barton trading as Scenic Flights, who planned scenic sight-seeing flights with the Drover, targeting US troops on R&R in Sydney from Vietnam war zone
12.69 Sydney commercial pilot Keith Robey flew VH-UMA for 10 hours commencing 12.69 before the sight seeing venture failed.
Oscar Barton was murdered in 1970.
22.1.70 Change of ownership back to: Hazair Sales & Service Pty Ltd, Orange NSW
25.2.70 noted at Bankstown, same Piper Aztec style paint scheme, white with red and blue trim
9.70 Sale negotiated to New Zealand
20.9.70 noted at Bankstown, prop removed from port engine
27.9.70 VH-UMA ferried Sydney-Coffs Harbour-Norfolk Island on delivery from Australia to New Zealand. Pilot was Geoff Norman of the Mercury Bay Aero Club
28.9.70 Arrived Auckland-Mangere Airport
29.9.70 Arrived Auckland-Ardmore Airport, then to Hamilton for NZ CofA inspection by James Aviation
2.10.70 Struck-off Australian Register as sold in NZ
16.10.70 Registered ZK-DDD Mercury Bay Aero Club, Whitianga

Mercury Bay Aero Club operated a Whitianga-Mangere passenger and freight service under the name Mercury Airlines.
14.11.70 ZK-DDD flew its first service with Mercury Airlines
4.12.70 ZK-DDD noted at Ardmore
14.10.72 noted at Ardmore
12.1.73 noted at Ardmore, "Mercury Airlines" titles, grey and whte with dark blue trim, "M" on tail
20.1.73 noted at Whitianga, "Mercury Airlines" titles
9.3.73 noted at New Plymouth, "Mercury Airlines" titles
8.75 Drover replaced by Cessna 207 ZK-DXT, Drover placed up for sale
7.7.76 Change of ownership: Drover Club Inc, Whenuapai
Based at Auckland-Ardmore, purchased for parachuting, replacing a Cessna 207
16.4.77 noted at Ardmore, same paint scheme, no titles but retained "M" on tail.
13.9.78 noted at Ardmore, repainted white, yellow and blue
80 now based Dairy Flat airfield, near Auckland
c83 Damaged Whenuapai in a taxying accident
- Sold in damaged condition to licenced aircraft engineer Stan Smith, an experienced vintage aircraft restorer. Moved to his workshop at Dairy Flat airfield near Auckland. Meanwhile Jim Bergman wanted to start a scheduled service Auckland-Great Barrier Island, purchased the Drover, which Stan Smith agreed to rebuild for him.
29.8.83 Change of ownership: G. S. (Stan) Smith, Dairy Flat airfield, Auckland
14.12.83 Change of ownership: Great Barrier Airlines Ltd, Auckland-Ardmore Airport
20.1.84 First flight at Dairy Flat after repair, pilot Jim Bergman. New paint scheme and titles "Great Barrier Airlines", Interior completely refurbished and with Transport CofA for airline use. 8 passenger seats, fitted with stereo headphones.
2.84 Commenced Great Barrier Airlines service from Auckland to Claris on Great Barrier Island
85 Drover replaced by BN-2A Islander ZK-JSB
14.10.85 Change of ownership: Michael C. Kelly, Mosgiel, trading as Southair
4.5.88 ZK-DDD departed Auckland-Kietaia-Norfolk Island on ferry flight to Australia
8.5.88 ZK-DDD ferried Norfolk Island-Lord Howe Island-Sydney, pilot David Squirrel.
9.5.88 Ferried Sydney to Berwick Vic by David Squirrel, where handed over to new owner.
19.6.88 ZK-DDD noted at Berwick Vic
1.7.88 Struck-off NZ Register as sold to Australia

Hurried Australian certification to enable it to participate in the coming air race around Australia, sponsored by TV Channel 10
15.9.88 Registered VH-FBC Robert E. Youl, Melbourne Vic t/a Cavalier Colours Pty Ltd
18.9.88 Departed Narromine NSW as entrant in the Bicentenary Around Australia Air Race. The 20 day event covered a route around the country of 7,000 miles. Race No. 121. Painted white with yellow & blue trim, name Tania on nose, also
“DHA-3 Mk.IIIA" De Havilland Drover”. Cavalier Colours and Channel 10 titles and logo.
(Note: Roman numerals were never used for Drover models)
30.9.88 Race entrants passed through Hamilton Vic
23.10.88
Visitor at RAAF Laverton airshow Vic,  Cavalier Colours on tail, lower fuselage painted over
10.89 Purchased for $175K from Cavalier Colours by Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
(Purchase made possible by special grant by the Ministry for the Arts)
.89 Ferried from Victoria to Bankstown by David Squirrel and Brett Young.
27.11.89 Handed over to Power House Museum in ceremony at Bankstown, by the Federal Minister for the Arts, Hon. Peter Collins.
2.9.93 Register Change of ownership: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
3.9.93 Struck-off Register
14.1.98 noted at Bankstown in hangar, appears airworthy, Name Tania
99/13 Loaned to Australian Aviation Museum, Bankstown Airport, Sydney.
Maintained in excellent condition. White with yellow and blue trim.
(on loan from the Powerhouse Museum until they are ready to display the Drover)

Currently displayed at Australian Aviation Museum, Bankstown Airport

Mk.3A VH-FDA at Parafield April 1963 on a medivac from Broken Hill.  Photo by Geoff Goodall


Traded on a new Beagle 206 and re-registered VH-UNK, seen at Sydney Airport in November 1967. Photo by Roger McDonald


Now VH-UMA, at Bankstown December 1968.  Photo by Roger McDonald


ZK-DDD at Auckland-Ardmore in March 1985, Great Barrier Airlines.   Photo by Paul Howard


ZK-DDD on return to Australia, at Berwick Vic on 19 August 1988.  Photo by Roger McDonald


VH-FBC at Jandakot WA in September 1988 during the Bicentenary Around Australia Air Race, race number 121. Photo by Geoff Goodall




C/n 5020                           Mk.2                                                                                                                    VH-AHZ, VQ-FAH, VP-PAE, VH-PAB, VH-DHM


Built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW. C/n 5020
.53 Completed at Bankstown.
Final assembly of this unsold airframe was expedited by DHA to provide an aircraft to flight test the proposed double-slotted flaps modifications. Following the grounding of Drovers due propeller failures, the company was committed to improve the performance of the interim model with fixed pitch Fairey-Reed propellers (Mk.1F)
3.2.53 First flight Bankstown
3.2.53 CofA issued
12.2.53 DHA Delivery date. Retained by DHA in standard passenger configuration.
53 Used for test flying of flap modifications during the development of the Drover Mk.2. Local flying in the Bankstown area was approved by DCA without a Certificate of Registration.
12.3.54 Registered as Drover Mk.2 VH-AHZ De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport, Sydney
6-7.54 Flew route survey for the planned 1954 Redex Air Trial around Australia:  Sydney-Brisbane-Townsville-Darwin-Wyndham-Oslow-Perth-Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney.  DHA provided the Drover flown by Rollo Kingsford-Smith, company Sales Manager, carrying Don Huxley, CFI of the Royal Aero Club of NSW which was organising the trial, and Athur Affleck of DCA.  Stopped at all airfields along the proposed route to check facilities. As a result of the survey, the route was shortened and the remote WA section removed, replaced by Darwin-Alice Springs-Adelaide.
7.54
noted at Wyndham WA during the air trial survey.. Metallic with white roof.
8.54 Ferried from Bankstown to Cloncurry on loan to Trans Australia Airlines while the Cloncurry based Drover VH-DRE was sent to Bankstown for conversion to Mk.2.
TAA’s Cloncurry based pilots at that time were Captains Jim Murtha and Phil Allen, RFDS Doctor was Dr. Ewell Smith
25.8.54
Pilot log: VH-AHZ Cloncurry-McKinlay-Cloncurry, TAA Captain Jim Murtha
27-29.8.54
Pilot log: Cloncurry-Gregory Downs-Lorraine-Kamileroi-Cloncurry. TAA Cpt Jim Murtha with Dr.Smith RFDS
22.9.54
Pilot log: Cloncurry-McKinlay-Cloncurry, TAA Captain Jim Murtha, Dr Smith RFDS
23.9.54
Pilot log: Cloncurry-Lorraine-Cloncurry, TAA Captain Jim Murtha, Dr. Smith RFDS
24.9.54
Pilot log: Cloncurry-Headingly-Cloncurry-Croydon-Normanton, Jim Murtha, Dr. Smith RFDS
25.9.54
Pilot log: Normanton-Mornington Island-Burketown-Doomangee-Cloncurry, Jim Murtha & Dr.Smith
28-29.9.54
Pilot log: Cloncurry-Alexandra-Cloncurry, Jim Murtha with Dr.Smith RFDS
5-6.10.54
Pilot log: Cloncurry-Carandotta-Tobermorey-Springvale-Cloncurry, Jim Murtha with Dr.Smith RFDS
7-8.10.54
Pilot log: Cloncurry-Neumayer Valley-Normanton-Mornington Island-Burketown-Doomangee-Cloncurry,
TAA Captain Jim Murtha with Dr.Smith RFDS

c54 photo at Brisbane Airport, parked at TAA hangar with TAA Dragon.
1.1.55 Change of Ownership: Andrew Thyne Reid, Sydney NSW

Thyne Reid held senior management positions in James Hardie Rubber and Golden Fleece Petroleum, owned rural properties and was a keen pilot, owning Cierva Autogiro VH-USR prewar then DHA-built DH.84Dragon VH-AFH

Thyne Reid entered into a long-term loan arrangement to Royal Aero Club of NSW, Bankstown. The aero club badge was painted on the Drover
6.56
Brian Blackjack Walker flew a Drover from Sydney to Horne Island off the northernmost tip of Queensland carrying a dismantled P&W S1H1G Wirraway engine for a grounded Junkers Ju 52 of Gibbes Sepik Airways which was en route New Guinea to Sydney.  The Drover was almost certainly VH-AHZ
29.5.60 Displayed at Bankstown airshow, in static aircraft park alongside newly converted Mk.3 VH-FDA
28.1.61 Drovers AHZ & BMU took part in Royal Aero Club of NSW mass flight from Bankstown to Coffs Harbour NSW, with 20 other aircaft
16.3.62 visited Cootamundra NSW airshow
17.11.62 visited West Maitland-Rutherford NSW airshow
19.11.62
noted at Bankstown
29.3.64 noted at Bankstown, metallic, white roof, RAeCNSW badge
18.4.64 visited Hobart-Cambridge Tas
23.5.64 noted at Bankstown, metallic and white, RAeCNSW badge
.65 Sale negotiated to New Hebrides Airways from the Estate of the late A. T. Reid
31.7.65 noted at Bankstown undergoing overhaul prior to delivery to New Hebrides
13.8.65 Change of ownership: New Hebrides Airways Ltd, Port Vila, New Hebrides
13.8.65 Struck-off Australian Register
13.8.65 noted at Bankstown, repainted as VQ-FAH. Same metallic finish with white roof
14.8.65 VQ-FAH noted at Bankstown
15.8.65 Registered VQ-FAH New Hebrides Airways Ltd, Port Vila, New Hebrides
(New Hebrides did not have an Aircraft Register so Fiji authorities agreed to inclusion on the Fijian Register)
8.65 VQ-FAH noted at Mascot
18.8.65 Departed Bankstown on ferry flight to New Hebrides
26.8.65 VQ-FAH noted at Port Moresby on ferry flight to New Hebrides
9.65 Arrived Port Vila
11.65
Struck trees on landing approach to Tongoa airstrip, damaging the undercarriage and wing. 9 passengers on board, but no injuries.Repaired on site by an engineering team sent by Hawker de Havilland Pty Ltd, Sydney. Returned to airline service.
3.12.65
Recovery from trees completed by a work party from Hawker De Havilland Australia, Sydney.
Repairs expected to be completed 10.12.65

1.6.66 Re-registered VP-PAE New Hebrides Airways Ltd, Port Vila
(Transferred to the newly established New Hebrides Civil Aircraft Register)
12.66
CofA renewal inspection, returned to service

Bob Paul, founder of New Hebrides Airways wrote in 1986: "VP-PAE was a good aircraft and gave us a good run. It struck trees on approach to Tongoa airstrip and undercarriage and wing damaged - repaired by Hawker De Havilland on site. Nine passengers on board and no serious injuries. Sold to Jim Hazelton."
.67 Sold to James D. Hazelton/Hazair Sales & Service Pty Ltd, Orange NSW
Jim Hazelton also operated Navair Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW
6.9.67 Hazair Sales & Service requested DCA to reserve registration VH-PAB, indicating planned resale to Pastoral Aviation
9.67 VP-PAE ferried Honiara to Sydney, pilot Jim Hazelton
9.67 VP-PAE noted at Bankstown
6.10.67 Change of ownership: Hazair Sales & Service Pty Ltd, Orange NSW
6.10.67 Struck-off New Hebrides Register
1.68
Purchased from Hazair by Merv Ward, Brisbane Qld
2.2.68 Registered as VH-PAB Pastoral Aviation (Queensland) Pty Ltd, Archerfield Airport, Brisbane Qld c/- Merv Ward

Merv Ward had previously operated DH.89 Rapides VH-BIF & ECW for aerial seeding and dingo baiting. VH-PAB was fitted with an aerial seeding chute installed in the cabin door.
24.3.68 noted at Coolangatta Qld, departed for Roma
7.9.68 noted at Archerfield Qld with seeding chute fitted in cabin door, "Pastoral Aviation" titles. Also 23.3.69, 17.5.69, 11.10.69, 23.10.69
23.10.69 noted at Archerfield, with seeding chute, "Pastoral Aviation" titles
24.9.70 noted at Toowoomba Qld, "Pastoral Aviation"
1.71 noted at Blackall Qld "Pastoral Aviation"
18.12.71 Nominal change of ownership: Mervyn Ward, Toowoomba Qld
17.1.72 noted at Toowoomba, "Pastoral Aviation" titles, long grass underneath
21.11.72 Change of ownership: Geoffrey N. Dodge, Currie, King Island, Bass Strait
(Acquired to carry crayfish to Melbourne, and mutton birds from strips on small islands)
27.6.73 Change of ownership: William A. Mitton, Melbourne Vic
6.73 noted at Moorabbin, paint stripped, rear fuselage repainted dark brown
10.73 noted at Moorabbin
10.11.73
noted at Moorabbin, repainted in bright orange and white scheme
9.12.73 visited RAAF Point Cook flyin, new orange and white paint scheme
4.5.74 noted at Essendon, good condition
10.7.76 noted at Tyabb Vic, weathered paintwork, control surfaces removed
6.12.76 noted at Tyabb Vic, props removed, high grass under aircraft
3.10.77 noted at Morwell Vic
30.12.77 noted at Morwell Vic
1.1.78
noted at Morwell, now restored, new orange and white paint scheme
78-80 based at Morwell, used for private flying, airframe and engines reported in poor condition
5.4.80 flying at Morwell flyin
8.8.81 Change of ownership: Hawker De Havilland Australia Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW

Purchased by Hawker De Havilland for a planned flying collection of De Havilland types.
18.9.81 Arrived at Bankstown on ferry from Victoria.

The Drover underwent long-term restoration at Bankstown by the company's engineering apprentices
6.6.86 First flight at Bankstown after restoration for De Havilland Vintage Flight
11.6.86 next test fight at Bankstown
19.11.86 Re-registered VH-DHM Hawker De Havilland Ltd, Bankstown NSW
Also reregistered same day were HdeH's DH.82 VH-DHV and DH.84 VH-DHX
1.2.87 VH-DHM noted at Bankstown
29.2.87 VH-DHM flew at Moorabbin airshow in a "DH on parade" item
22.4.88 Departed Archerfield Qld as an entrant in Australian Bicentenary Air Race
12.10.88 visited RAAF Richmond airshow, "De Havilland Drover" titles above windows
4.5.91 noted at Bankstown, "De Havilland Drover" titles
28.2.93 Arrived Adelaice-Parafield after ferry flight from Bankstown. Now based at Parafield
7.6.93 Nominal change of ownership: Hawker De Havilland Ltd c/- Australian Aviation College, Parafield SA
3.4.93 noted at Parafield, airworthy. based here. "De Havilland Drover" titles, restored passenger interior, Gipsy engines
4.94 visited Mangalore Vic airshow, "De Havilland Drover" titles
8.6.96
VH-DHM flew from Parafield to Longreach Qld, to be displayed at a Qantas Founders Museum event.
Returned to Parafield two days later.

12.1.00 Nominal change of ownership: British Aerospace Flight Training (Australia) Pty Ltd, Parafield Airport SA
7.4.00 Nominal change of ownership: BAe Systems Flight Training (Australia) Pty Ltd, Parafield
.00 Loan to Historical Aircraft Restoration Society, Sydney NSW, later Wollongong NSW
6.00 Ferried Parafield-Bankstown by Sandy Howard of HARS, with 3 other HARS pilots on board
19.9.00 Nominal change of ownership: Hawker De Havilland Pty Ltd, Bankstown
10.00
Flown Bankstown-Bathurst by HARS pilots Sandy Howard and Gary Squire. At Bathurst flew a photographic sortie in formation with Charlie Camilleri in his Drover VH-ADN
01/05 Loaned to Australian Aviation Museum, Bankstown Airport, Sydney
Displayed inside museum hangar, maintained airworthy. Metallic, blue and white paint scheme, "De Havilland Drover" titles above the windows. Gipsy Major engines.
24.5.03 First flight Bankstown after overhaul by HARS
5.9.03 VH-DHM visited Archerfield Qld airshow, operated by HARS, "De Havilland Drover" titles
18.10.03 noted at Bankstown in Australian Aviation Museum hangar, with Drover 3B VH-FBC
6.12.05 Nominal change of ownership: Hawker De Havilland Aerospace Pty Ltd, Bankstown
22.4.06 visited Narrandera NSW flyin, white and blue, "De Havilland Drover" above windows
08 based at Wollongong with HARS
26.10.08 visited NAS Nowra NSW airshow
28.3.11 visited Temora NSW fly-in, white and blue, "De Havilland Drover" above windows
.11 Nominal change of ownership: Boeing Aerostructures Australia Pty Ltd, Sydney, operated by Historical Aircraft Restoration Society, Wollongong NSW

Current.  Operated by HARS at Albion Park NSW maintained airworthy

VH-AHZ at Bankstown in May 1964, with Royal Aero Club of NSW wings below the cockpit. Photo by Barney B. Deatrick


VH-PAB starboard side, Archerfield March 1969.  Photo by Roger McDonald


Port side, Archerfield September 1968, seeding chute fitted to the cabin door. Photo by Geoff Goodall


VH-PAB at RAAF Point Cook fly-in in December 1974, while being repainted.  Photo by Roger McDonald


VH-DHM at RAAF Richmond October 1988, after a 5 year restoration.  Photo by Tony Arbon


Watts Bridge Qld fly-in, August 2004, with paintwork changes on tail. Photo by Bert van Drunick





References:

- Drover Diary, Ben Dannecker:  incomplete book draft 1982, plus Ben's research notes and photographs
- 1987 summary of DHA-3 research by Ben Dannecker: correspondence with pilots and owners
- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation and its successors
- DCA aircraft registration files, National Archives of Australia
- British Civil Register, Civil Aviation Authority: G-INFO website
- RAAF Status Card, Drover VH-DHA
- British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, A. J. Jackson, Putnum & Co, London 1973
- De Havilland Aircraft since 1909, A. J. Jackson, Putnum & Co, London 1978
- British Independent Airlines since 1946, Tony Merton-Jones, LAAS & Merseyside Aviation Society 1976
- British Civil Aviation News, Air Britain, fortnightly journal, various references 1958-1970
- Rag & Tube, Antique Aeroplane Assocation of Australia, quarterly newsletter, Drover updates
- Lindeman Aerial Services, 3rd level Operators series, Roger McDonald, AHSA Journal date
- Roger McDonald: research library on Australian airlines and routes
- Peter Lewis, history of ZK-DDD, Wings over NZ Aviation Forum, April 2007
- Taking Off, Pioneering Small Airlines of New Zealand 1945-1970, Richard Waugh 2003





Tailpiece....


Ron Lee's restored RFDS Drover 3B VH-FDU at sunrise, Wangaratta Vic September 2006.  Photo by Phil Vabre


Taxying on two. Charlie Camilleri arrives at Narromine NSW in September 2007 in his Drover Mk.2 VH-ADN. Photo by Phil Vabre

 

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