Coonabarabran is used to having large and wide loads coming through town, but on Saturday, 6 August, there was a load a little different.
A nine-metre wide Caribou aircraft was being moved from its base in Queensland to the airport at Parkes.
Reverend Grahame Abrahams, who is spending time with the Uniting Church in Coonabarabran, is also the Chaplain for the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS), which was moving the aeroplane.
HARS is a group of over 500 volunteers who freely give their time to preserve our aviation history. Rev Abrahams said it is an amazing organisation of dedicated people.
HARS, which has one of the largest aircraft restoration museums in the world, is based at the Illawarra Regional Airport at Albion Park.
This was the same group who, against all odds, restored a Super Constellation aircraft, which was the first long- haul aircraft in the world.
Others have tried to restore the Constellation aircraft and are still trying, but HARS achieved this mammoth task and have kept it flying for the last 20 years.
The aircraft is very popular at air shows, where many flock to embrace this great lady of the sky.
“HARS currently has over 45 aircraft; many flying or being restored to flying condition to keep our aviation heritage alive,” Rev. Abrahams said.
“Their aim is to restore and fly these historic aircraft that have been a part of Australia’s aviation history.
“Over half their fleet of aircraft are military and the remainder civilian.
“There is a Convair restored aircraft being flown to Australia by some of the HARS pilots from South Africa to add to the fleet. This aircraft has been painted in the old TAA colours, as this type of aircraft was one used by them many years ago.
“We are told that HARS also has a replica of Charles Kingsford Smith’s Southern Cross, which was damaged a number of years ago in South Australia.
“HARS has acquired this aircraft and is rebuilding it and hope to fly it in a few years’ time.”
Rev. Abrahams said HARS now has so many aircraft, it has been looking to set up an annex to its museum in rural NSW.
“HARS has had a storage facility at Parkes for a number of years, and they are in the process of developing this site,” he said.
“The Caribou that was transported through our town is a part of the display being set up at Parkes. Later this year they will also be bringing a Neptune bomber through our town to add to the display.
“It is good to see an organisation that is also focussed on developing tourism in western NSW, as this was where many pilots were trained during the WWII.
“The Caribous were an aircraft that serviced our troops well during the Vietnam war, so they are a part of our history that needs to be preserved.”
A Caribou aircraft being relocated from Queensland to Parkes, using the wide-load bypass in Coonabarabran.