There’s a certain thrill involved in climbing through cockpits and marvelling at historic, roaring plane engines.
At the HARS Aviation Museum in this weekend, visitors can take time to explore their favorite aircraft and new additions to the fleet.
Phil Mason from HARS described the holiday tarmac days as a sort of “open house”, where visitors can enjoy the aircraft outside of the regular guided tour.
“What we generally do is get a number of aircraft and place them in position on the front of the hangers so that people can walk around, climb through them and experience them up close and personal.”
We also generally have engine runs going because we do have to turn these engines over on a regular basis. It’s like a lot of things: if it’s not used, you lose it.”
Phil takes obvious delight in the study and restoration of aircraft and said the spectacle of a radial engine starting up is an all-ages crowd-pleaser.
“You’ve got the hustle and bustles of pistons shooting up and down in a radial engine plus oil leaking out and smoke and fire and brimstone. It’s extremely exciting,” Phil said.
While the excitement of bright lights and loud noises is a draw-card for many museum goers, others like Bruce Elliott value the opportunity to see unusual aircraft.
“Some of these are unique aircraft you’ve got here. I think it’s good to see them maintaining them,” said Bruce.
Others visitors have found HARS by a happy accident. Julia said her travelling group just needed a place to u-turn while lost “and we ended up here.” She said the group enjoyed the insight of tour guides and hands-on experience crawling through aircraft.
Phil noted this kind of impromptu interest has been sparked by the Qantas 747 positioned outside the museum’s hangers.
“What happens when you drive down the freeway, you turn to your left and you see this mighty great big tail. It just drags people off the highway right left and centre,” he said.
As well as favourites like the 747, three new additions which were added to the fleet in 2016 are available for viewing on Friday and the weekend.
These aircraft include the Convair VH-TAA from South Africa which will be open for internal viewing for the first time, the TAA DC3 and a new secret bomber.
While some areas won’t be accessible during the tarmac days for safety reasons, Phil said there are unique opportunities to speak to engineers and pilots.
He also encourages visitors to explore the aircraft and get to know and them like HARS volunteers.“We certainly believe that all these aircraft have their own personality.”