Beech A36 Bonanza VH-SGS

Between 1964 and 1969, DCA purchased five new Beechcraft Bonanza light aircraft.
They were used to transport Departmental personnel on official business as well as for continuation flying by Departmental pilots. The sixth Departmental Beech A36 Bonanza, VH-SGS (c/n E759), was unusual in two respects: firstly, it was a late acquisition and secondly it was purchased second-hand from New Zealand.

Unlike the previous five Bonanzas purchased by the Department, which were all new, VH-SGS had been registered in New Zealand as ZK-ECB on 17 November 1975. It was still quite young when acquired by the Department of Transport, Air Transport Group and re-registered in Australia as VH-SGS(1) on 22 June 1976. By this time the change from DCA to DoT had resulted in the Department no longer registering their aircraft in the 'CA' (Civil Aviation) block - the three Fokker F.28s were in the 'AT' (Air Transport) block - but it's not clear why this aircraft was given an apparently meaningless registration.

At some stage the aircraft was re-painted into the new Departmental house colours of white over grey with a navy blue cheatline, but it's not clear if the aircraft ever wore these colours while with DoT, or whether it ever carried the DoT 'Irish Compass' logo.

The photographs above and below show VH-SGS at Melbourne/Moorabbin at an unknown date. However, the aircraft is wearing the new Department of Aviation logo as a very small addition to the rear fuselage cheatline, which indicates the date must be between 7 May 1982 and 1 July 1988.




The photo above shows VH-SGS at the Departmental Flying Unit's maintenance base at Melbourne/Essendon in November 1985, while that below shows Departmental electrical technician Graeme Wrigley with VH-SGS at Latrobe Valley aerodrome, Victoria. Graeme was at Latrobe Valley doing some electrical maintenance work. He recalls, "I logged 500 plus hours in it and others before the Flying Unit was closed down. I was one of the lucky ones to be sponsored by DCA to obtain my pilot's licence and allowed to use the Flying Unit aircraft for business travel."


Along with most of the Departmental light aircraft fleet, VH-SGS was disposed of around 1992 following an internal 'Review of Resources'. Sold on the private market, the aircraft fittingly returned to New Zealand
as ZK-DPT(2) on 2 April 2003 where it remains current.


(Photos: 1,2-CAHS collection; 3-Greg Thom; 4-CAHS collection via Graeme Wrigley)

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