De Havilland DH60 Moth G-AUAK

Following the success of the first De Havilland DH60 Moth to be imported, G-AUAE, the CAB imported in the following year a batch of additional Moths for loan to the Aero Club movement in support of pilot training. Eventually these Moths would number at least 36.

G-AUAK was in the first batch of these CAB Moths. It was built at Stag Lane, UK, in 1926 (c/n 242) and shipped to Australia on the S.S. Largs Bay. An Australian Certificate of Airworthiness was issued for it on 20 April 1926 and it was officially registered to the CAB on 12 July. G-AUAK was powered by an ADC Cirrus I of 60 hp.

This aircraft appears to have been based at Sydney/Mascot all its life and it appears that the aircraft was loaned to the Australian Aero Club, NSW Branch. The photo above was taken at Mascot in 1926 whilst G-AUAK was with the Aero Club.

G-AUAK crashed at Mascot on 21 March 1927 with major damage. However, it was repaired and an ADC Cirrus II engine of 75 hp was fitted. The aircraft was further damaged at Mascot on 20 July 1929 in a take off accident. Repaired, it crashed again on 4 February 1930 whilst endeavouring to avoid a collision on take off. The pilot, G Hetherington, stalled the aircraft and it dived 40ft into the ground. Hetherington was seriously injured and the aircraft suffered such major damage that it was struck off the Register on 23 April 1930.

As was the way in those days, the aircraft was repaired again. In the meantime the Australian registration system had changed and when it was re-registered on 20 September 1930, it was as VH-UAK.

In February 1931 the engine was changed again to a De Havilland Gipsy, making the aircaft into a DH60G. On 2 May 1931 VH-UAK made a forced landing into Botany Bay, Sydney, while searching for the body of a drowned boy. On 19 September the aircraft was recorded as having been struck off the Register (again) as withdrawn from service.

Nevertheless, the aircraft was repaired yet again and re-registered on 9 February 1932. By June 1936 the engine was changed back to an ADC Cirrus II.

On 18 August 1937 VH-UAK was given to the Royal Aero Club of NSW (as it had by then become). Cannily, twelve days later the Aero Club sold it to De Havilland Australia for £300 (probably as a trade on a new aircraft). De Havilland in turn re-sold the aircraft and it had several owners, including time in New Guinea between 1937-39, until finally struck off the Register on 30 January 1946 in a post-War Register clean-up.

Interestingly, VH-UAK was one of the few Moths not to have been impressed at the beginning of the War, probably because it was already being used to train pilots at Mascot. It suffered a crash in December 1941 and, despite being sold for re-building, it was never returned to the air.

(Photo: Wal Ives/Eddie Coates collection)

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