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Dance of the Flying Boats

14 September 2017

Dance of the Flying Boats

The Sunderland Flying Boat – About to move indoors

MOTAT’s magnificent flying boats are on the move! A huge team of employees, volunteers and contractors spent days in the museum’s Aviation Display Hall bringing the newly painted Sunderland indoors, and moving the Solent ‘Aranui’ outside for further restoration works and painting.

The long-term objective is to see the Sunderland and the Solent housed together under the same roof in the museum’s Aviation Display Hall. This vision is well on its way to being achieved with the Sunderland’s move into the hall. MOTAT chief executive Michael Frawley says it’s a significant moment for the Museum “The Sunderland was donated to MOTAT in 1967 but this is the first time in 50 years we’ve been able to house her inside so it’s a very special day for MOTAT and those connected with the plane.”

A rare treasure, the Sunderland is one of only four remaining examples in the world retaining its original military configuration. Earlier this year MOTAT completed the enormous undertaking of restoring and repainting the exterior of the aircraft. This is a job that was only possible with the tireless efforts of employees, volunteers, and contractors.

MOTAT is fortunate to be supported by a skilled team who dedicate their time, knowledge and expertise to the museum’s aviation collection. “Seeing the Sunderland being restored and moved indoors is a tribute to everyone who has worked on this aircraft over many years,” says MOTAT Senior Workshop Engineer and long-term volunteer Norm McKelvey. Norm is a retired TEAL and Air New Zealand engineer who has been closely involved with the restoration of the flying boats and many other aircraft at the Museum.

The next step in the Sunderland’s restoration is the repair of its internal lighting, the refurbishment of the gun turrets and cleaning the interior. To complete to entire project, the Museum needs to raise $120,000.

This Sunday, 17 September is a special aviation Live Day where MOTAT visitors can be amongst the first to view the Sunderland with its striking new paintwork in the Aviation Display Hall. The Grumman Avenger Bomber will be operating its hydraulic wings while tours, talks and demonstrations will bring the stories behind the world-class aviation collection to life.

MOTAT’s legendary Solent flying boat ‘Aranui’ is scheduled for exterior restoration work and has been temporarily moved outside to be protectively wrapped so that this work can be undertaken.

These flying boats are rare artefacts from an era of aviation which pioneered air travel between Australia and New Zealand. Each aircraft has its own unique history, and MOTAT is delighted to share their stories with the public.

Moving the Sunderland inside this week is a remarkable achievement and marks another important milestone for MOTAT.


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