Swearingen Merlin III VH-SSL (ex VH-CAM)

Returning to its old stamping-ground at Melbourne/Essendon is SA226T Merlin III VH-SSL (c/n T-210) of Wettenhall Air Service from Deniliquin, NSW, formerly DCA's VH-CAM(3). The aircraft was bringing in fire-fighting reinforcements on 17 February 2009 following the devastating Victorian bushfires of 7/8 February in which over 200 people perished.

On retirement from the Department of Aviation, VH-CAM was sold in the USA as N173SP. The Australian registration was cancelled on 15 January 1986, but the aircraft did not actually leave Essendon and remained parked at the airport into the 1990s along with the former VH-CAL.

Both aircraft were later ferried to Bankstown where they remained inactive for some time. Eventually both were returned to the air, VH-CAM as VH-SSL.

The Merlins were replaced by Gulfstream 1000s.

(Photo: Gordon Reid)

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