Australia Network

Print | Close

print friendly page for

24 December 2007

Qantas Founders Museum

COLIN WESTWOOD: The Qantas Founders Museum was established in 1996 when a group of local outback people decided that they wanted to preserve the story of Qantas, as it started in this part of the world, and negotiated with the Longreach Shire Council that at the time owned the original Qantas hangar and put plans into place to open it as a museum, to record the history of Qantas. And in the last 11 years the museum has grown to the stage that it is today.

This particular Stage 2 was opened at Easter 2002 and very shortly after that Qantas decided they were going to gift a 747 aircraft to the museum as part of the exhibit to show their support for the efforts of the people who started the museum.

One of the things that we depict in the museum here are those very, very early days before Qantas even actually started flying. Sir Hudson Fysh who became a long time chairman of Qantas and Paul McGinness, who were World War One pilots, were to take place in a London to Australia air race in 1919.

Their sponsor died before the race started so they were left without an aeroplane and they were then asked by the Australian government to go out from Longreach to Darwin to actually find landing strips for the competitors in the air race.

And in those days of course there weren't any roads. They had a Model T Ford and a lot of pioneering spirit and actually made it to Darwin and back to Longreach.

Through the difficulties that they found in travelling over land they realised that from their experience of flying aeroplanes in World War I that this was a way to overcome what they described as the tyranny of distance in this part of the world.

Their first aircraft was an Avro 504K. This aircraft was made for them from an English design. It was basically an adaptation of WWI fighter aircraft and it was basically a one passenger, one pilot operation and most of the time in the early year or two that they were flying they were really drumming up business by taking people on joy flights and trying to indicate to them the advantages of flying.

The original hangar which is the home of Qantas is now part of the museum complex and is in fact a heritage listed building. They started making aeroplanes in the old hangar at Qantas - in fact they made seven aeroplanes in all - and this was from a period of about 1920 through to 1927, 28.

They exhibited that pioneering spirit that one associates with the graziers and with the settlers back in the late 1800s and early 1900s in this part of the world.

Our latest acquisition is the first Boeing passenger jet that Qantas ever owned. And it was a very significant aircraft for the museum being the first Boeing passenger jet ever exported outside the United States. It was the first passenger jet ever registered on the Australian Aircraft Register. Our engineering team spent around about 15000 man hours restoring it to flying condition and it is an exhibit in our display now.

It's a very patriotic thing, people visiting the museum. The name Qantas conjures up all sorts of patriotic thoughts amongst Australians. They are just overwhelmed by the standard of the presentation here, the quality of the museum and the exhibits that we have here, and the feedback that the original Qantas hangar still has some of the original Qantas pieces of equipment and offices that were in existence back in 1920, 21.

Generally speaking the feedback we get from people is that they are so glad that we've preserved the Qantas history in this way.


The letters QANTAS actually stand for the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.

The interesting thing about the Qantas name is of course it's not really a word.

Qantas stands for the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services. If you took the capital letters from each of those words it spells the word, Qantas.

It's the only word in the English language that starts with a Q that's not not followed by a U.