The Australian National Aviation Museum presents Wings & Wheels

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Tucked away in the far recesses of Moorabbin Airport sits a little unimposing building with a large propeller mounted front side. The building itself is not intended for flight but instead it is the celebration of classic aircraft, the Australian National Aviation Museum. On this weekend, the one weekend a year the Museums collection of aircraft are joined by an extensive collection of classic Automobiles, creating the Wings and Wheels exhibition. Cleverly able to combine their two passions in the one exhibition, Wings And Wheels presents a unique collection of restored classic and vintage automobiles on display amongst the many classic and modern aircraft of the Australian National Aviation Museum.
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Normally an aircraft museum on this special weekend each year an amazing collection of classic cars invades the Museum, making brilliant use of the museums aircraft as a backdrop for many rare and exotic automobiles. From an era when the World was still recovering from the war to end all wars, WWI,  this is a collection of lovingly restored automobiles with curves and lines from a time long long ago. For the remainder of the year, outside of this one weekend, the Museum returns to it’s exclusively aircraft norm. The Museum is open to the public weekends, public holidays and Wednesday to Friday, 12pm till 4pm.
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Wheels and Wings is this year celebrating the history of how we have propelled ourselves around along with the close relationship aircraft and automobiles. This years exhibition included outstanding examples of four wheeled high speed beauty of the classic kind. With highlights including a 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost and 1935 Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet, both in immaculate condition, this years show had a feel of exclusivity to it. When you can say a Ferrari F40 is the commoner in a collection you know an rare collection is on hand.
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Walking through the hangers smaller front door, eye’s adjusting to the darkness after the bright outdoor light, you are quickly aware that before you sits the aircraft and automobiles of the Australian Aircraft Restoration Group’s collection. Obviously the automobiles aren’t an everyday part of the Museum, but as members of the group are responsible for the restoration of the automobiles they are considered part of the Museum, an external part perhaps. Some aircraft have been fully restored and some still in the process of reconstruction. Every corner high and low is full of aviation and automotive treasures, it was going to take some time to get through this collection.
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The museum has an extensive collection of aircraft parts spread throughout the hanger. From engines that changed the world; the Merlin aero engine to the first jet engines most of the great technological milestones are represented. Simulators, ejection seats, various aircraft fuselage, wings and other various parts made for an extra ordinary back drop for the classic cars.
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Tucked away under the Mirage’s Left Wing is the 1957 Italian Racer designed for the Italian Formula Juni and containing an 1100cc Fiat motor. Next to the hangers side door sits the Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet – 1935 -. With the Ferrari F40, English ALTO prototype racer and another Riley open wheeled racer sharing the space with the Mercedes-Benz, this is the centre of attention for most visitors. The beautiful cream BMW 328 convertible - 1940 – sits in the far left corner, next to it the very red Australian built Alfa Romeo 1750GT racer. Both cars below the Gipsy Moth bi-plane suspended from the hangers ceiling. Both cars with the classic curves of sports cars of the 30′s and 40′s, curves in all the right places.
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CRM_Wheels_And_Wings_007Owned and operated by the Australian Aircraft Restoration Group. The groups primary goal is the restoration of aircraft, especially Australian aircraft. Bringing old and tired wings back to life. The Restoration Group is a community based, not for profit organization. The collection began in 1962 with the donation of the DAB Beaufighter. The restoration began in earnest, as did the expansion of the collection. The permanent museum opened in 1964 and is the oldest volunteer operated Aviation Museum in Australia. In 1967 the Museum was expanded to 300 by 1400 feet and continued to grow for the next 20 years. By the 1980′s the collection had grown to over 30 aircraft but exposure to the elements was taking it’s toll on the aircraft. To address this the hanger was constructed in 1989, protecting the aircraft from the ravages of the weather. The collection now totals 52 machines, making the museum the largest aircraft owner at Moorabbin Airport.
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Immediately inside the hangers front door, almost guarding the entrance, is the Museums GAF Mirage, Australia’s first supersonic jet, that went into service in 1965. To the left of the Mirage sits the Big Bird bright yellow CAC CA-28 Ceres. A purpose built agricultural aircraft, the CAC was primarily a crop dusting aircraft able to carry a ton of dust in it’s internal hoppers. Further inside the hanger the DAP Mark 21  Beaufighter sitting up high, with it’s landing gear locked down. The DAP’s twin engine wings hover above the Repco racing and formula two racing cars that are  setup between the aircraft’s landing gear. The Beaufighter saw service during WWII, with the initial fighter bombers coming from English factories, eventually 365 would be manufactured in Australia. Nicknamed “Whispering Death” by the Japanese, due to it being heavily armed as well as being extremely fast and quiet during low altitude flight. The museum also houses a Curtiss P40E Kittyhawk, Fairey Firefly, Percival Proctor 1, Miles M-38 Messenger 2A, Auster J-1B Aiglet, Duigan 1910 Pusher Flyer Replica. Housed outside of the hanger are a number of commercial passenger aircraft along with a Gloster Meteor T7, Fairey Gannet A.S.4, Miles M-38 Messenger 2A amongst others.
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Both side hanger doors were wide open for the exhibition, making for some tricky lighting conditions as the light flooded in through the large vacant spaces of the doorways. Although it made some shots difficult it was also responsible for the exceptional shots. The lighting conditions led to the shadows being cancelled out in a number of photo’s – 1908 Isotta-Fraschini IF Type FE -, giving the appearance of the vehicle floating, an optical illusion. While there were a number of aircraft suspended from the ceiling, non of the cars were suspended off the ground, all vehicles were rolled in under their own power.
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An amazing collection of wings and wheels was indeed on display in Moorabbin. With the photo’s taken, hands shaken and a return journey to the Crash offices ahead of us we say goodbye to The Australian National Aviation Museum, definitely worth checking out if aircraft are of interest to you at all. Thumbs up to the team at Moorabbin for Wings and Wheels exhibition, another success. Great subjects with an interesting back drop will always attract photographers like a moth to a flame.
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Full Gallery: VIEW full GALLERY
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Photography by Crash and Buddha’s Brother
Buddha’s Brother out.…
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