HARS Aviation Museum
HARS Aviation Museum

“Last of the Hotrods” Q & A


With the gift of the last production Boeing 707-138B to HARS, we thought it appropriate to tell you a bit of who we are, what we can do and why this aeroplane is important to Australia. I’ll follow that up in a day or so with the story of HARS in a bit more detail.
HARS – Historical Aircraft Restoration Society
Shellharbour Regional Airport, Albion Park – YSHL
All Volunteer
Donations Tax Deductable

John Travolta’s 707 – what is special about it?

This aircraft is the finest remaining example of a Boeing 707-138B – it is 10 ft shorter than a standard 707, which gives it better airfield performance and range than others of its day. This model of 707 was Qantas’ first jet aircraft – this is the last of 13 built specially for Qantas – the first is fortunately on display at Longreach. They became known as “Hotrods” in Qantas service because of their high thrust and modest weight.

Can this 707 operate out of Albion Park YSHL airport?

When the first 707 that is now at Longreach was recovered from Southend airport in England, they had a 5,300 ft runway to use. We have a 6,000 ft runway here. Certainly the aircraft would not be able to take-off at maximum takeoff weight, however that is never going to be the case. At the weights we at HARS will be operating the aircraft, there is no problem.

Who will pay for this?

We will soon be starting a campaign to raise money to assist with its return home. Some of those funds will be provided by sponsorship, whilst for some other part, private donations will be needed. How much? Well for the moment, let us just say aeroplanes cost a lot of money. The good news is that there is considerable interest from potential sponsors, and for that we are grateful.

What is so special about HARS?

Over the years, HARS has gradually attracted a large number of Active and Retired Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and Professional Pilots who maintain their lifelong friendships with workmates and continue their love of aviation. Many of the engineers are licenced to supervise heavy maintenance on complex airliners and some were Qantas representative engineers supervising the manufacture of 747 aircraft in the Boeing Factory. Many of the pilots are likewise very qualified, able to train other pilots to fly a number of airline aircraft including Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 aircraft.

Who owns the HARS aircraft?

Could they be auctioned off if HARS dissolved? Should HARS cease to exist, the aircraft (apart from a small number that are privately owned) would revert to a couple of State Museums, such as the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

What special aeroplanes does HARS fly or display?

HARS flies:
  • One of only two Super Constellation airliners in the World
  • Two of the three original flying Caribou transports in the World
  • Three C-47 / DC-3 aircraft including TAA’s first passenger aeroplane
  • The only ex-RAAF Neptune left airworthy
  • One ex-RAAF AP-3C Orion
  • Catalina Flying Boat
  • de Havilland Drover
HARS is returning to the air:
  • DC-4
  • French Maritime Neptune – perhaps the finest remaining in the World
  • Fokker F.VIIb/3m trimotor monoplane – a replica of the “Southern Cross”
  • Vampire two-seat jet
HARS has on display:
  • Boeing 747-438 “OJA” London-Sydney record holder
  • Mirage IIIO fighter
  • First Production CA-27 Sabre fighter.
  • F-111C strike aircraft
  • The Australian Government has entrusted HARS with the display of the Last F-111 to have had its engines running … ever.
  • HARS is a significant destination for World Aviation Heritage and we have had people fly from around the World JUST to visit us.
  • HARS engineers took a derelict wreck of a Super Constellation in a Tucson graveyard that no-one wanted and returned it to the air as our “Connie”. Our engineers have been working on a DC-4 airliner that was in poor condition and which we will return to the air. The wing repair on the Southern Cross replica is considered by the team’s compatriots to be “a thing of beauty” – a superb piece of work.

Who can be a member of HARS?

Anyone can be a member of HARS – all you need to be is an aviation enthusiast and willing to help us when you can. We need all sorts of skills – a far cry from a few years ago when we were a small group of people. We will shortly be starting a CASA approved training regimen for a number of skills. Whilst most of our members are older, enjoying the social interaction with others, a couple are now joining who are still in High School – attending on the weekend to “play” with big radials and wonderful aeroplanes.
Standby for more information. We are determined to keep you informed and let you enjoy the ride we have started on. There is a lot to accomplish and we want you to meet some of the people and experience with us the obstacles we will have to overcome. This will be Huge for the Illawarra region and we are really proud we can help promote the area – after all, many of us live locally.
Image: Wikicommons: Phinalanji