De Havilland DHA-3 Drover II

HAM Drover

VH-EAZ/VH-EAS/’VH-FDT’/’G-APXX’ – c/n 5014

With the H.A.M from May 1972 to May 1983

In the DHA-3 Drover, the H.A.M had acquired one of Britain’s rarest airframes with only 20 having been built on the other side of the world in Australia. Indeed, CAA records state that just two aircraft were ever allocated a UK registration, while only one of these ever made it to our shores. Serving as a feeder airliner with Qantas from the outset, this Drover was later sent to New Guinea where she operated for several years until the mid-50s. Then in the late-50s, she was sold in the UK arriving here by ship in September 1961 becoming part of the Air Navigation and Trading Company fleet. Rumours suggest that this aircraft was purchased to fly a Blackpool-London service, but this route application was subsequently rejected and thus, she would never actually fly for the company. As a result of this, she was kept in a dismantled state until being acquired by the B.H.A.M in May 1967.

Having spent more than a decade in pieces, she was finally reassembled by ATEL’s engineers after which she was put on display with the rest of the B.H.A.M collection on the airport’s eastern perimeter until eventually being moved to the new H.A.M site late on Aviation Way in 1970. Two years later, further restoration work was carried out and as a consequence of this, she would receive a new although spurious ‘Australian Flying Doctor Service’ livery and registration. While a small number of Drovers had served with the AFDS, this aircraft had not been one of them. This aircraft remained on external display until the closure of the museum, after which she was sold to Doug Arnold and transported by road to Blackbushe where she remained until June 1985.

Sadly, for such a rare type her future was to be a bleak one indeed. This Drover initially ended up with the ‘Second World War Preservation Society’ who displayed her outside on their site at Lasham although during this period she would deteriorate further and by 2008, was in an extremely poor state having been left to stand on little more than her undercarriage oleos. With the collapse of the SWWPS, she was then moved to Wycombe Air Park and was stored externally in a dismantled condition, although little to nothing was done in the way of preservation work or restoration. In 2013 she was moved again, this time to St Athan where she rotted further. However as of 2015, a move to Staverton seemed to be on the cards, where it is hoped that she might find a more secure future in the hands of an ex-Southend resident who wishes to restore her to her former glory.

 

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Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.