TAA Douglas DC-3s at Goroka - 1960s

This wonderful shot shows two Douglas DC-3s of Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) at Goroka in the eastern highlands of New Guinea, sometime in the mid-1960s. Following a change in policy by the Australian Government classifying New Guinea services as 'domestic', in 1960 TAA took over services between Australia and New Guinea, and internal New Guinea services, from Qantas Empire Airways (QEA). These services were operated alongside Ansett-MAL in competition for route licences issued under the authority of the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea, and regulated by the Australian DCA.

During the '60s the TAA New Guinea operations were styled 'Sunbird Services'. The specially devised markings comprised a white fuselage top with blue band, fin and rudder. The lower fuselage and wings were in polished metal. Not clearly visible in this photo, the fin carried a logo comprising a white disk with a multi-coloured, sylised hummingbird superimposed.

The aircraft in the foreground is VH-SBJ. This aircraft was built as a C-47A-25-DK (c/n 13622, military serial 42-93683). In 1945 it was acquired by QEA and registered as VH-AII, later changed to VH-EBI at the direction of DCA due to possible confusion with radio codes. In November 1950 the aircraft was acquired by TAA and registered VH-TAV.

It was re-registered as VH-SBJ for the New Guinea 'Sunbird' services in February 1961 and converted at Melbourne/Essendon as a freighter with an unlined cabin. It could be fitted with removable forward-facing seats or 'side-saddle' type seating if required. VH-SBJ was later sold to Laos as XW-PEE in October 1968.

In the background is VH-SBF. This aircraft was built as a C-47A-10-DK (c/n 12541, military serial 42-927190) and in 1944 was acquired under Lend-Lease for the RAAF as A65-42. In 1948 it was acquired by QEA and registered as VH-EBG, changed in 1950 to VH-EBV. The aircraft was taken over by TAA from QEA when Qantas ceased operating in New Guinea and was re-registered as VH-SBF in December 1960 and named Mustar (afer 'Pard' Mustar, one of the aviation pioneers of New Guinea). It was used as a freighter, based for a while in Madang. Made redundant by the introduction of the Fokker Friendship, it was sold to Taiwan as B-209 in September 1967 where it crashed and was destroyed in January 1969.

(Photo: CAHS collection)

Back to the Items of General Interest index