Historic plane starts its final move
Work has started to dismantle the historic Vickers Vimy aircraft - the first to fly from England to Australia in 1919 - ahead of its move to a new location in the upgraded Adelaide Airport terminal.
The airport's operators have contracted conservation specialists Artlab Australia to undertake the delicate operation of deconstructing, relocating and piecing back together the century-old plane.
The relocation project has been jointly funded by the federal and state governments and the airport.
"The Vickers Vimy is a treasured national asset and Adelaide Airport is proud to be its custodian," airport managing director Brenton Cox said.
"A significant amount of planning has already taken place to find the best solution to move what is an extremely fragile object."
The aircraft will be separated into three pieces – the two outer wings, the fuselage, and the engines with the stub wings.
Scaffolding is being built around each segment to carry the weight and protect the structure during the move.
The project team will only have a gap of about 70mm on either side to manoeuvre it out of the existing memorial building and then into the new terminal space.
On hand for the start of work on Wednesday, federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the careful transfer of the Vickers Vimy was the final step in restoring the historical national asset to its former glory.
"The prominent new home of the Vickers Vimy in Adelaide Airport will serve to educate generations to come of our state's pioneering and aviation history," the minister said.
"This iconic aircraft, in its new purpose-built facility will be a great addition to South Australia's cultural heritage and tourism and be the crowning glory of the newly expanded Adelaide Airport."
The Vickers Vimy – a biplane made of wood lined with fabric and with open cockpits - was the first aircraft to complete the epic journey between Hounslow in England and Darwin as an entrant in the 1919 Air Race.
Flown by South Australian brothers Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith, the 18,000km pioneering flight took 28 days with just a compass and maps for navigation.
The plane's move to the new airport terminal will take place in March with the exhibit to be open to the public later this year.