Lord Howe Island

Any photos, plans, drawings, directions, helpful hints on visting places where flying boats have been operated from historically, or are being operated from today. I am always interested in receiving 'Then & Now' type photographs to assist current day visitors to these place. I'm trying to record the best places to visit before they disappear for ever.

Lord Howe Island

Postby flyernzl » Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:09 pm

As no doubt you are well aware, Lord Howe Island, off the eastern coast of Australia, was the terminal for the last operational scheduled flying boat service in the world.
This service closed in 1974, when an airstrip was opened on the island.
These days, the air service is operated by QantasLink from Sydney using Dash-8 turboprops.

However, the seaplane history of the island dates back to 1931 when Francis Chichester flew from New Zealand to Australia in his Gypsy Moth floatplane ZK-AKK via Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island.
His trip was delayed by an overnight storm at Lord Howe, which caused the moored Moth to overturn.
He dragged the damaged machine ashore, dismantled it, ordered the necessary repair parts from DH Australia, rebuilt the Moth on the Island and then resumed his trip.

I depart tomorrow for Sydney, and then on to Lord Howe.
Have disinterred my copy of Chichesters book 'Seaplane Solo' and will take that with me as a guide to the relics still extant on the Island.

There is also apparently some remnants remaining of the RAAF Catalina A24-381 which crashed into a hill on the island back in 1948.

Looking forward to an interesting trip.

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Re: Lord Howe Island

Postby dogsbody » Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:23 pm

Enjoy your trip. Take lots of pictures!



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Re: Lord Howe Island

Postby AlexNortonesq » Wed Feb 26, 2020 5:25 am

Have a great trip. Looking forward to your posts about the trip and the pictures you take as you follow Chichester's travels.

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Re: Lord Howe Island

Postby seawings » Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:40 pm

Hi Peter,

Oh, you lucky chap..!

Been looking at your pictures on Facebook, what a lovely part of this world..!

Looking forward to hearing all about it on your return,

Cheers,
Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
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The Flying Boat Forum
SEAWINGS - The Website

"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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Re: Lord Howe Island

Postby flyernzl » Sun May 17, 2020 12:33 pm

My trip to and back from Lord Howe Island went exceptionally well, and I managed to get back home just days before the Corona virus lockdowns hit.

The island has a fascination maritime aviation history, just a pity I was unable to go there 50 years ago and travel by flying boat.

The island was uninhabited when discovered by itinerant whalers back in the 1830s, and was then settled to become a source of fresh water and food for visiting ships. Later industries were developed around Kentia Palms and seed-growing, and the only services to the island were provided by trading ships.

LHI viewed from the North

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As a young man Francis Chichester emigrated from England to New Zealand. After working around the country he met up with Geoffrey Goodwin and the two formed a successful business partnership.
In 1929 Chichester travelled back to the UK and bought a DH60G Moth G-AAKK with the intention of flying that aircraft back home to New Zealand. He became the second person (the first being Bert Hinkler) to fly solo from London to Sydney, arriving there in January 1930. He then shipped the Moth across to Wellington.

The Moth was initially allotted the NZ registration ZK-ACK, but Chichester successfully applied for the registration ZK-AKK which was issued on 2nd March 1931.
His next ambition was to fly the Moth back across the Tasman sea to Australia. As this could only be done by alighting at both Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands en-route he borrowed the Moth floats that had previously been used on the NZ Government Moth ‘995’ and these were fitted to ZK-AKK just two days before Chichester departed from Hobsonville on the morning of 28th March. Travelling via Parengarenga Harbour in northern New Zealand and after experiencing a troubled time at Norfolk Island, he alighted at Lord Howe Island on the afternoon of 1st April.

Chichester's route across the Tasman Sea

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ZK-AKK arriving at LHI 1st April 1931

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The Moth was towed by the islanders to a sheltered mooring located in Hunter Bay, on the north eastern coast.

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Hunters Bay, showing Old Settlement Beach and at the lower corner, the freight jetty and the original cargo shed

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However, there was a storm overnight and in the morning ZK-AKK was found to have overturned, with just the lower wings and the tail above water.

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The Moth was salvaged by the islanders and dismantled inside a cargo shed located at the nearby shipping wharf.

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The necessary replacement parts were ordered from DH Australia and the aircraft was rebuilt on the island, flying again in early June.

The Moth being rigged outside the cargo shed

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The same cargo shed still exists in the same position today, albeit renovated

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Back on the water, ZK-AKK being prepared for flight

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After some trial flights around Lord Howe Chichester then departed, flying the Moth the final leg to mainland Australia on 10th June

There are some artifacts still viewable on the island, including this piece of fabric, presumably off a wing, that is on display at the local museum.

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(Un-watermaked photos above courtesy Lord Howe Island Museum)

More to come . . .
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Re: Lord Howe Island

Postby dogsbody » Sun May 17, 2020 5:26 pm

Yes, more please.




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a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"
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Re: Lord Howe Island

Postby MrWidgeon » Sun May 17, 2020 10:23 pm

Yes, may we have more Please ?

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Re: Lord Howe Island

Postby flyernzl » Mon May 18, 2020 9:14 am

Lord Howe Island saw no further aviation activity until mid-1942.
By then, the RAAF had taken delivery of a number of Catalinas, and the Catalina crews often performed navigation exercises from their base on Lake Macquarie out to Lord Howe.
In May 1942 one of these Cats alighted on the island’s lagoon to pick up a seriously ill resident and evacuate her back to the mainland. By 1943 these visits by the Catalinas had become routine, and were carried out almost on a monthly basis. A radio communication station had been established in 1929, initially utilising morse code.

From mid-1940 TEAL flew a regular trans-Tasman passenger and freight service between Auckland and Sydney using the two Empire-class flying boats ZK-AMA and ZK-AMC.
On 13th April 1943 ZK-AMC had left Rose bay, Sydney, bound for Mechanics Bay in Auckland. During the flight two of the engines started to malfunction and the Captain, Ken Brownjohn, decided to divert to and alight at Lord Howe Island.
Two RAAF Catalinas, A24-1 and A24-37, were dispatched to carry fuel to the stranded airliner. After further taxi tests it was apparent that the Short’s engine problems could not be rectified on-site, so that aircraft took off at a light weight and returned empty to Rose Bay accompanied by the two Catalinas who carried the passengers.

TEAL Short S.30 Empire ZK-AMC in wartime colours

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The war-time Catalina operations were not without incident. In September 1943 A24-33 was moored out on an overnight stay when a storm blew the aircraft up onto the beach at Comet’s Hole, on the south side of the island. Fortunately, the aircraft was undamaged and was able to get airborne and fly back to base after being dragged off the beach.

RAAF Catalina operations out to and around LHI continued up until the late 1940s.

On 28th September RAAF Catalina A24-381 set out from their base at Rathmines on a navigation exercise from daylight to darkness to Lord Howe, Middleton Reef and then back home to Lake Macquarie.
Arriving at LHI the aircraft circled overhead while the Captain decided to cancel the Middleton Reef leg and return directly home. About 20 minutes into the homeward leg a serious fuel leak developed from the fuel tank above the engineer’s station in the aircraft.
A decision was made to return to the island and alight on the lagoon. Unfortunately, while attempting this, the aircraft impacted on the mountain ridge just below North Peak at around 8.40pm

The Catalina grazed across the top of Malabar ridge and side down the opposite hillside. The aircraft burnt fiercely, and although some of the islanders managed to rescue two of the crew the other seven perished in the accident.

Sketch of the route taken by A24-381 before impact

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Today, wreckage remains at the site. There is a memorial close by, and this incorporates a Hamilton Standard propeller of the type used by the Catalina.

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My local guide, Peter Phillips

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They almost made it, a glimpse of the lagoon just visible past the trees on the right

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Model of A24-381 that is on display in the island's museum

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Last edited by flyernzl on Fri May 22, 2020 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lord Howe Island

Postby MrWidgeon » Mon May 18, 2020 12:43 pm

Well Done Sir (More ?).

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Re: Lord Howe Island

Postby dogsbody » Mon May 18, 2020 6:43 pm

Nice. Thanks for posting.



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with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"
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