Courage in the Skies – part of the 100 years of Qantas

Qantas is 100 years old – not many airlines reach that milestone! It is only beaten by KLM and AVIANCA – in that order. Over the weekend there has been the release of some previously unavailable film footage related to the Qantas Empire Flying Boats, which used to fly from Australia to Singapore thus linking to the BOAC flying boats for onward connection to the Middle east, Europe and London.

To view these videos follow this link.

Then the Second World War intervened and both Qantas aircraft and pilots became part of the war effort. They lost five of their flying boats, two being shot down by Japanese fights, two being destroyed in Broome harbour by a Japanese raid and one lost in a forced (due to weather) night land ing near Port Moresby. Excluding the two at Broome there were loss of lives with both crew (14) and passengers in the other incidents. The linked article omits the PNG loss.

This writer has just (coincidently) finished reading the book, Courage In The Skies, by Jim Eames. This is a riveting insight to this little known part of the Qantas story. The book covers many aspects, fall of Singapore; evacuation of Indonesia; bombing of Darwin; battles of PNG; establishment of the Perth to Sri Lanka link. A personal aspect to this writers family relates to the Kokoda Track battles. Aircraft were used during the WW2 Kokoda campaign in PNG, both flying boats for regular transport of supplies and personnel, along with the Lodestars, known as the bully beef bombers, also transporting supplies. The cover image shows some wounded soldier being evacuated from PNG. Qantas also used Lodestar, old DH-86 biplanes and the more modern Catalina. It was the Catalina that operated the WW2 link from Perth to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), which became known as the ‘Double Sunrise’ flight, a term Qantas intends to reuse with its future direct London/Sydney service.

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