22 November 2015, Albury Airport, NSW
Douglas aircraft C/N 1286 was completed as a DC-2-211 in October, 1934 and registered to Eastern Airlines as NC13736. It was equipped with a pair of Wright GR-1820-F.2B Cyclone 9-cylinder radial engines each of 740bhp (brake horsepower) @1950RPM. After being phased out by Eastern, it was purchased by the Australian Government via the British Purchasing Commission and received on November 18, 1940 at Australian National Airways (ANA) for (re-)assembly. In March 1941, the aircraft was brought on Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) charge as A30-11. It was allotted the military call sign VHCRE and at one point was named Maaleesh. The DC-2 was utilized for transportation duties, notably during July 1942, when it carried a disassembled radar unit intended for Melville Island on several flights between Bankstown and Batchelor, Northern Territory (NT).
Later it was allotted to “B” Flight, at Richmond, New South Wales (NSW), with the Parachute Training Unit (PTU). In November, 1944, the aircraft was sent to ANA’s facility at Essendon, Victoria (VIC), to be stripped of camouflage and made ready for civilian use. In September, 1946, it was offered for tender at Parafield, South Australia (SA). The airframe was stored at the Care & Maintenance Unit found at Port Pirie, SA.
A new beginning occurred in October, 1946 when C/N 1286 was sold to Sid Marshall for 52 Pounds, for spares. Marshall intended to use DC-2s with Marshall Airways. The airframe was moved to and stored at Bankstown, NSW until it changed owners… to the Albury West (NSW) Rotary Club, which subsequently preserved it on concrete poles with its undercarriage down, as “PH-AJU Uiver” (race no.44). These markings were of a famous DC-2 which placed second and took handicap honours in the 1934 MacRobertson International Air Races – also known as the Centenary Air Race [between RAF Mildenhall, England and Melbourne, Australia – ed.].
These markings commemorated the night during the air race when the original Uiver encountered a storm in Northern Victoria and was saved by the people of Albury. Encouraged by a local radio station to drive to the Albury Racecourse (located near the present day airport) and using their headlights to mark a landing site, residents guided the plane to a safe landing, assisted by municipal authorities who arranged to switch the city’s lights on and off using Morse code to indicate they were at the right town. With minimum crew and no passengers, the DC-2 took off to complete the flight to the finish line at the Flemington Racecourse, on October 24, 1934.
The race is considered a watershed flight in Australian/British aviation history as it successfully demonstrated the superiority of contemporary American airliner design. Restoration by the Rotary Club was reported as costing $6000. The memorial was dedicated on March 2, 1980.
The DC-2 has now been removed from its place outside the airport and will be restored to feature in a new permanent, undercover display at Albury Airport.
Research by Aviation Report