The Australian Aircraft Restoration Group
was formed in 1962 as a not profit group by members of the Aviation
Historical Society of Australia, who undertook to recover and preserve a
DAP Beaufighter at threat of scrapping after years of use at the
Children's camp at Portsea.
Following donation of the Beaufighter in April 1962, a Wackett Trainer
was purchased, followed by our oldest complete aircraft a DH60G Gypsy
1963 saw no relief from our activities, in January we bought an Avro
Anson from Flinders Island Airlines, and in May we bought a Meteor from
the Department of Supply. TAA donated a Tiger Moth in mid-1963, and we
finished the year by purchasing a Wirraway from CAC.
Early in 1964, we moved most of our collection to a service station
north of Lilydale, where the Gypsy Moth and Wackett were put on display.
Later in the year many of the aircraft were taken to a market garden
adjacent to Moorabbin Airport.
In October 1964, a Proctor was donated, and by this stage the Department
of Civil Aviation had agreed to lease us land at Moorabbin Airport, with
a fence erected on May 20th 1965.
In 1966, we returned for another look at the farming district near Colac
and collected a Kittyhawk fuselage, while February 1967 brought our most
spectacular arrival when a Fairey Firefly was flown from Bankstown to
stage in the Museum's development occurred in July 1967 when the
re-fencing of the site resulted in a total area of 300 feet by 140 feet,
with the AARG being 5 years old and having operated the Moorabbin Air
Museum for 2 years.
For the next 20 years the museum grew as more and more aircraft came
into the collection and the theme of the Museum was quickly established.
An aircraft or artefact acquired by the Museum had to be relevant to
Australian aviation history. Without realising it the Museum was
establishing, what would be labelled by museum professionals years
later; a collection policy. This theme is what held the museum
collection together and provided a sense of purpose to the collection.
Other aviation museums would form in Australia but none would acquire
the vast range of aircraft types; all of which related directly to
Australian history. This collection ranges from gliders and homebuilts
to World War 2 combat aircraft; jet fighters; crop dusters and four
early 1980’s the aircraft collection had grown to a very impressive 30
machines but another very hard lesson had been learned. Collecting
aircraft, restoring them and displaying them was not enough. At this
time the Museum was still an open air display and the ravages of the
weather were beginning to play havoc with the aircraft. No matter how
robustly constructed an aircraft may be, if it is left exposed to the
elements it will eventually succumb.
During the 1970’s and ‘80’s there had been various proposals put
forward by government and private groups to fund a National Aviation
Museum in Victoria. The Moorabbin Air Museum was involved in many of
these deliberations, but by the late 1980’s it had become apparent
that none of these schemes would reach fruition. Again the Museum
Directors realised that the only way to ensure the long term survival of
the aircraft was to take action themselves and in 1988 all surplus
assets of the museum were liquidated in order to provide funds to erect
an 8,000 sq ft hangar on the Museum site. In April 1989 that hangar was
completed and three years later it was extended to 12,000 sq ft. In the
intervening years a library, workshop and store had also been erected
together with an entry building and shop.
Over the years the Moorabbin Air Museum has been recognised by a number
of awards, the most prestigious of which was a Certificate of Merit in
the 1985 Museum of the Years Awards. Apart from the preservation of
aircraft the museum’s other great accomplishment has been the number
of young members who have gone on to careers in aviation or museology;
the experience gained while at the museum standing them in good stead in
their working lives.
To many it would seem that the museum has accomplished its goals; but in
truth we have barely started. Between 1980 and 2000 the aircraft
collection increased by an average of one airframe per year. The
collection now totals 52 machines and that makes the museum the largest
aircraft owner on Moorabbin Airport. It is an aeronautical collection
larger than half the world’s airlines and a third of the world’s air
forces and only one third of it is displayed under cover. The rest is in
storage, on loan, under restoration or, at worst, on display in the open
Today the Moorabbin Air Museum, re-titled as The Australian National
Aviation Museum, attracts visitors from all over the world. Each year
thousands of wide eyed school children come to learn about the magic of
flight and Australia’s part in the development of aviation. All of
this started with a vague idea; a determination largely born in
ignorance of the enormous difficulties that would present themselves and
the museum members, past and present, who could not bear to stand and
watch the great planes die.
Got an interest in Aviation, or our
Aviation Heritage Click here to find out How
You can Help?
AARG is a community based , non-profit company, limited by guarantee,
the Museum’s objective is to tell the story of both the people and
machines that made Australia’s rich aviation heritage.
at the museum is voluntary,
application for membership is open to anyone over the age of 14 years,
further details can be obtained by emailing the museum, or ringing the
museum on (61 3) 9580 7752.
to the museum:
All donations to the
museum of $2.00 or more are tax deductible. The museum is also
recognised under the Australian Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme.
Accordingly, and subject to verification, the assessed value of any item
donated to the museum can be recognised as a tax deduction.
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