The Government Aircraft Factory(GAF) Nomad project began in 1965 with the design of a single engine high wing aircraft. 1969 saw the design concept changed to a twin turbo prop powered high wing light transport aircraft with short take off and landing capabilities. Approval was given for the construction of two prototypes in 1970.
First flight of the first prototype N22 took place at Avalon Victoria in July 1971. The second N22 prototype was flown to Britain and appeared at the 1972 Farnborough Air Show.
Production commenced in 1972 at Fishermans Bend, the first production aircraft flying in late 1974. Several versions of the N22 Nomad were planned for civil and military applications, and a stretched version, the N24, had been built.
Despite the hopes of large overseas orders for the aircraft, only 170 had been built by 1984 when production ceased. In 1987 all unsold Nomads were transferred to the Australian Defence Force, and the RAAF operated some until withdrawing them from service in 1993, and the Army did the same until withdrawing them from service in 1995.
The Museum's N22 Nomad was modified to the “Searchmaster” configuration in the 1980s and demonstrated to the US Customs Service as a drug interdiction tool with the result that several of the aircraft went to, and were used successfully operating out of Florida. Following this tour it was returned to the RAAF in 1989 and re-configured to a standard version and served in ARDU at Laverton as A18-316 until 1991. It was later on loan to Boeing Australia (ex GAF) for Nomad modification trials. It 2008, A18-316 together with the Nomad type certificate and design and development rights were sold to Gippsland Aeronautics, now Mahindra Aerospace, of Morwell Victoria, the intention being to put the type back into production . This did not eventuate and the organisation donated A18-316 to the museum, arriving in March 2016, and is currently under restoration.