DE HAVILLAND DROVER MK 3 VH-FDS Norman Bourke
MSN 5007

 

 

 

QAM thanks Mark Clayton for the donation of this aircraft.

 



    Built by De Havilland Aircraft at Bankstown, NSW.
08AUG51
  First flown at Bankstown as a Mk 1 with Gipsy Major Mk 10 engines.
VH-DRC
   
14AUG51
  Registered to Trans-Australia Airlines, Brisbane as VH-DRC. CofA issued the same day. The aircraft was painted in TAA livery and used to operate TAA's western Queensland services replacing a DH.84 Dragon. It was also operated as required on behalf of the Flying Doctor Service of Australia (Queensland Section). During the delivery flight to its new base at Cloncurry, a ceremony was held at Eagle Farm, Brisbane to name the aircraft Norman Bourke in honour of the Hughenden grazier and stock agent who had been one of the original backers of the Flying Doctor Service. He later served as President of the Federal Council of the FDS and was also President of the Queensland Section for many years. He also served as President of the United Graziers of Queensland. He was born in 1874 and passed away in April 1952.
52
  Modified to Mk 1F with Fairey-Reed fixed pitch propellers. This modification resulted from a series of accidents which were caused by the failure of the earlier DH variable pitch propellers.
54
  Modified to Mk 2 with double-slotted flaps by DHA at Bankstown.
55
  The organisation received Royal assent becoming the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. The same year, DC-3s replaced Drovers on TAA's Gulf Country Service and Channel Country Service making the Drovers available exclusively for RFDS operations. Around this time, VH-DRC was based in Charters Towers.
31JUL59
  Sold to RFDS (Queensland Section) but continued to be operated and maintained by TAA.
61
  Modified to Mk 3 by DHA at Bankstown. This modification involved the fitment of Lycoming O-360-A1A engines with two-bladed Hartzell constant speed feathering propellers. The maximum all-up weight was also increased by 100 pounds to 6,600 pounds.
    Subsequent Drover modifications featuring an extended span tailplane with 14 degrees dihedral (Mk 3A) and further increased MAUW of 6,800 pounds (Mk 3B) were not incorporated in this airframe.
VH-FDS
   
10SEP63
  Re-registered VH-FDS.
JUN68
  VH-FDS operated its last RFDS service from the Charleville base.
05SEP68
  Sold to Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd, Bankstown. The aircraft was traded-in on a replacement Beech Queen Air for which HDH were Australian agents.
20JUL69
  Sold to Murchison Air Services Pty Ltd, Perth WA as VH-FDS.
25JUL69
  Arrived at Perth International on delivery to Murchison Air Services. Painted with a red tail with white Southern Cross and bronze cheatline. Used on the "Murbird" services to Rottnest Island with up to 8 return services daily.
27JUL69
  Harry O'Neil was endorsed on the aircraft at Perth by Ted Shaw. (Source: Harry O'Neil)
70
  Operated on the Perth-Rottnest Island route after MMA withdrew from the route after the removal of subsidies. The aircraft was operated by Southern Airlines which was a division of Murchison Air Services. (Source: Harry O'Neil)
05JUL71
  Ownership passed to Trans-West Air Charter Pty Ltd, Perth on merger with Murchison/Southern.
28FEB72
  Sold to John Collins trading as Air-Rep Service Pty Ltd, Perth and named Lady Elza (not Eliza). The Drover was used to deliver food and household goods to remote properties throughout the Western Australia outback.
DEC72
  Noted at Perth with revised Air-Rep Service titles.
27JUN73
  Departed Perth on delivery to James Luck and Associates, Smithton, Tasmania. The aircraft was used to carry frozen mutton birds from Trefoil Island to Smithton on the Tasmanian mainland. This operation was conducted under the licences of Island Aviation.
30JUL73
  Severely damaged in a landing accident at Trefoil Island when the aircraft swung off the strip and both main undercarriage legs were torn off when they dropped into mutton bird burrows. The aircraft was being flown by C.K. Powles who was a part-owner of the aircraft. The aircraft was subsequently parted out and abandoned on Trefoil Island.
14SEP73
  Registration cancelled.
OCT79
  Removed from Trefoil Island by members of the Wynyard Aero Club with the intention of restoring the aircraft as a memorial to the RFDS. The aircraft was transported from Trefoil Island via amphibious DUKW (aka Army Duck) to Woolnorth on the main island of Tasmania from where it was transported to Wynyard on a log truck.
    The aircraft was subsequently acquired by Mark Clayton and stored at Dedington, Tasmania.
05SEP89
  Donated to QAM by Mark Clayton.
28FEB90
  Arrived at QAM Caloundra ex Dedington, Tasmania.
JUL07
  Restoration began at QAM Caloundra. The aircraft will be restored in RFDS (Qld) livery with Lycoming engines.

 

Compiled by Ron Cuskelly

 



 

 

ISSUE
DATE
REMARKS
12
24FEB17
History completely updated from the newly published Air-Britan book DE HAVILLAND DROVER by Geoff Goodall. QAM thanks the author for permission to quote from this source.
11
19JUL16
Added a superb colour painting thanks to Juanita Franzi.
10
19JUL16
Reports that the aircraft was originally named Gordon Alberry are apparently incorrect. There is photo proof that VH-DRC was named Norman Bourke.
9
22JAN16
Added an image of the aircraft in RFDS colours thanks to Geoff Goodall.
8
14FEB15
Thanks to Keith Jordan for supplying biographical details of his Great Uncle, Norman Bourke.
7
20MAR12
Added an image of the aircraft as VH-DRC.
6
21DEC09
Added a new image after attachment of the wings.
5
10NOV09
Added a new image of the fuselage after painting.
4
06SEP09
Added a new image of the fuselage being painted.
3
16JAN08
Added five new images of the aircraft's time in WA thanks to Geoff Goodall. Also added two images of the fuselage being stripped of paint prior to restoration.
2
09JUN06
Added details of Murchison Air Services' use of the aircraft thanks to Harry O'Neil.
1
02JAN02
Original issue.