Qantas 100 Year Celebrations at HARS

Qantas Airways recently celebrated its 100th Anniversary at the HARS Aviation Museum and the Albion Park Squadron of the Australian Air League was invited to assist in the set up and running of the event which was to be held over two days.

We first arrived on the Saturday to help set up for the Sunday BBQ. We started with a small job of inflating 100 red balloon which were to be put together in four bundles – this task took a lot longer than expected!

After this task we stopped for lunch and soon realised we were sitting across from Dick Smith. The cadets had a quick chat about his famous flights and grabbed some photos before he left. You never know who you are going to run into at HARS.

During a break the cadets took a tour through the Boeing 747 on display and chatted with some of the volunteers who look after her. They were shown all the areas where former 747 members had signed their last goodbyes to the “Queen of the Sky”.  They also had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit and get some great photos.

On Sunday morning we helped set up hundreds of chairs underneath the Boeing 747-438 VH-OJA where the BBQ meal was going to be served and before long the guests were arriving, many dressed in either Qantas pilots’ uniforms or one of the many different Qantas stewardess outfits from over the years.

Lunch was served and speeches were made by HARS President Bob De La Hunty and Shellharbour City Mayor Marianne Saliba.

The Qantas cake looked amazing and tasted just as good. Everyone had a wonderful time as the party wound down and the cleaning up started. Some of the cadets were there until 11pm helping and were asked to attend at 5am in the morning to appear on the Today Show. They were very keen even if they were only going to get a few hours sleep.

Morning came around quickly and we were back at the airport ready to go for the show and the cadets did an amazing job answering questions about the Air League live on TV.

While the cadets then went to school, I stayed to help set up the dining area which was in the hanger underneath the wings of the Connie. This Constellation is one of only two left flying in the world. 

The cadets returned after school and there was not much time before guests started arriving for the Black Tie formal dinner. Everyone was dressed up to perfection and it felt like we were at the Logies!

The cadets manned the COVID safe sign in area checking everyone as they entered. One guest was Qantas captain Richard De Crespigny and the cadets immediately recognised him as the pilot-in-command of flight QF32 which suffered an uncontained engine failure in 2010, yet safely landed at Singapore Changi Airport. After signing in, the cadets asked for some autographs and he was more than happy to oblige.

Shortly before 7pm we were all led out onto the tarmac for a surprise during which the 100 Anniversary Qantas Boeing 787 performed two “low and slow” fly bys, dipping its wings to all the former Qantas aircraft on display.

We sang happy birthday to Australia’s favourite airline and cut the second amazing Qantas cake. The guests danced until the end of the night and it was a night that we wished did not end.

Congratulations to Qantas and we hope that the next 100 years are going to be even greater, safer, and more rewarding than the first 100!

1st Officer Rodney Walker

More photos from the event can be seen here

Air League Squadrons visit WW2 crash site


An RAAF Lockheed Hudson, similar to the aircraft that crashed in 1942.

At 2116 hours on the 4th November 1942, Lockheed Hudson Bomber A16-173 dispatched from Camden RAAF Base NSW crashed into the side of Bong Bong Mountain located behind Dapto NSW with the loss of all crew members.

On the 4th November there was a report of an enemy submarine sighted of the coast of Sydney. Two Lockheed Hudson Bombers from 32 Squadron were dispatched from the Camden RAAF Base to investigate the reported sighting and engage the enemy once located. Due to adverse weather conditions the A16-173 lost bearings and found them flying over the Illawarra area. It is alleged that the crew mistook the water mass known as Lake Illawarra for Botany Bay.

The escarpment or mountain area west of Illawarra has an elevation of between 709 metre’s (2,326 ft) to 803 metre’s (2,635 ft). In adverse weather conditions, cloud and fog covered the mountainous and cliff face areas of the Illawarra Escarpment.

A16-173 circled over the Unanderra, Dapto and Albion Park area for a period of time trying to obtain a location bearing. Various AIF Camps including the 6 Aust. Inf. MG Batt, tried to advise the crew by way of aiming search lights towards the Bomber and quickly flicking the search light upwards to indicate for the crew to climb in altitude, but to no avail.

Cadets inspect crash remains of Lockheed Hudson A16-173

Since 2008 The Albion Park Squadron, Australian Air League has held remembrance services for the crew of A16-173. On Sunday 15th June 2014, The Albion Park Squadron accompanied by Cadets from Sutherland Squadron embarked on a trek into the Bong Bong Mountain to visit and undertake a remembrance service for the crew of A16-173. The day started with a debrief and power point presentation outlining the Lockheed Hudson Bomber and the history of how the aircraft was designed from the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra passenger airliner undertaken at the Dapto RSL Hall. History of how the Hudson Bombers were transported to England and Australia and various Squadrons who flew the aircraft and Squadrons who were also based at the Camden RAAF Base was also discussed.

At 11am the Albion Park Squadrons accompanied by Cadets from Sutherland Squadron embarked on their trek to the crash site. Cadets and Officers, accompanied by some parents hiked into the mountainous area with a stiff, brisk Southerly wind and rain, guided by Scott Fleming from the Illawarra Historical Society. Once we reached the base of the Rain Forest it was nice to be protected from the cold wind and rain, only to be greeted by Stinging Nettles, Stinging Trees and Leeches by the thousands.

Air League visit WW2 crash site

Cadets, Officers and Parents from Albion Park Squadron and Sutherland Squadron undertook a formal remembrance wreath laying service at the crash site, remembering the crew of A16-173 and all Service Men and Women who have served. At the conclusion of our service, we trekked further into the mountain to visualise wreckage that remains at the site which included exhaust manifolds, wheel strut, engine cowling and parts of the fuselage.

Cadets, Officers and Parents from Albion Park Squadron and Sutherland Squadron returned safely and a respectful day was held by all. We remember the crew of Lockheed Hudson Bomber A16-173

• Pilot – Sergeant – Norman Baxter Clark
• Observer / Navigator – Flight Sergeant – Bernard James Hubbard
• Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sergeant – Geoffrey Alfred Rich
• Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sergeant – Joseph Hall Iredell

The Albion Park Squadron, Australian Air League would like to thank the Committee and Members of the Dapto RSL Sub Branch who allowed us to use their Hall for our debrief and approval to visit the crash site.

Lockheed Hudson crash site

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