Parkes has a long history in aviation, the first aircraft to land at Parkes was a Sopwith Camel piloted by aviation pioneer Sydney Pickles in 1919.
During WW2, Parkes airport became RAAF Base Parkes, accommodating No.1 Air Navigation School, No.2 Wireless Air Gunners School, No.8 Operational Training Unit and after the war No.87 SQN operated from Parkes. Did you know – former PM Gough Whitlam graduated from Parkes as a Flying Officer navigator?
Parkes Aero Club, formed in 1948, still operates from its historic ex-RAAF COMMCEN building.
Parkes has been used as a storage facility for the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) since 1975 and is currently being transformed into an aviation museum in its own right by a range of local and HARS volunteers.
Exhibits on display or being assembled include a Bell AH-1 Huey Cobra, De Havilland DHC-4 Caribou (A4-275), De Havilland DH.114 Heron (VH – AHB) and Convair 580 (VH-PDW).
Students from Parkes High School are working with HARS volunteers to restore a GAF Jindivik (A92-22) and Lockheed 12 Electra Junior for display and HARS members are currently working to relocate a Lockheed P2V Neptune to Parkes.