Aero Commander 560E VH-CAU
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To replace its fleet of ageing Avro Anson wartime transports in the late 1950s, DCA ordered four brand new Aero Commander light twins: two model 560Es and two more-powerful 680Es. This photograph shows one of the first pair, Aero Commander 560E VH-CAU (c/n 726-51). The aircraft was registered new to DCA on 30 March 1959 and delivered by DCA pilots from the USA via Europe and the Middle East, arriving at Melbourne/Essendon on 17 May 1959.

Click here to read about the handover and delivery flight

Click here to read a flight test of DCA's Aero Commander 560E

The photo above shows VH-CAU at Gatwick, UK, on its delivery flight. The rare colour photo below shows VH-CAU in Australia in the original overall polished metal with blue cheatline colour scheme.



Apart from the early post-war years, when war surplus equipment was de rigeur, DCA usually attempted to select aircraft types that were advanced for their day with the objective of 'proving' the type in Australia ahead of commercial orders - thus leading by example. In this spirit, VH-CAU was loaned to Connellan Airways by DCA during October 1959 to test the aircraft type for 'bush' services. It was delivered to Connellan's Alice Springs base by DCA pilot Eberbach. The aircraft was not considered suitable and was subsequently returned to DCA.

Nevertheless, Aero Commanders of various sub-types went on to a long and successful history in Australian commercial service.



It is thought that VH-CAU became the Victoria/Tasmania Region aircraft, based at Essendon. The photo above shows VH-CAU at RAAF Richmond, NSW, on 19 July 1967. This photo below shows it at an airshow at St Arnaud, in north-western Victoria, on 2 March 1969. A decade after its delivery, VH-CAU has been re-painted in the 'new' DCA house colours of white with light blue fin and trim. Note the DCA Flying Unit logo on the nose and fin.



Below: VH-CAU at an unknown country aerodrome - a typical destination while ferrying Departmental personnel around on duty.



The aircraft was disposed of by DCA in 1970, the Aero Commander fleet being replaced by Swearingen Merlins. VH-CAU was sold to Civil Flying Services Pty. Ltd. at Melbourne/Moorabbin and re-registered on 16 January. The aircraft has had various owners since and the photo below shows it at Melbourne/Tullamarine in March 1982 where it had been flown by John Conley of Australian Aircraft Sales (note the logo on the nose) to negotiate the purchase of TAA's retiring Douglas DC-9s. VH-CAU was still on the Register in 2015, though it is not known whether the aircraft is still airworthy.




(Photos: 1-Ian D Johnson collection; 2-CAHS/Ben Dannecker collection; 3-Ben Dannecker; 4-John M. Smith; 5-CAHS collection; 6-Greg Thom)

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