Vickers Vimy installed in new exhibit

The beautiful, quite enormous and fragile Vickers Vimy, made its second epic journey last night to arrive at its final destination, a new public exhibit being constructed by BESIX Watpac at the Adelaide Airport main terminal.

Vickers Vimy installed in new exhibit

The first aircraft of its time to fly halfway around the world from Houndslow to Australia in 1919, the Vickers Vimy made its final journey 2.1km from its existing memorial building adjacent the long-term car park to the new airport terminal Thursday evening (19/5). 

The delicate mission took 4.5hrs and, the more than 100-year-old plane made of wood, wire and fabric, was divided into three parts for the voyage.

The move was managed by South Australia’s Artlab Australia and the project team had a gap of 70mm either side to manoeuvre it out of the existing memorial building and then into the new terminal space. The plane will now be reassembled in the custom built exhibition space designed by South Australian architecture firm Baukultur, exhibition design specialists Arketype and creative design studio Sandpit, built by BESIX Watpac. 

Brenton Cox, Adelaide Airport Managing Director told ABC Radio that "there were a lot of passionate people with a lot of nerves... but the weather held up and the speed humps didn't dislodge the scaffolding".

"There are a lot of happy, excited and relieved people at the other end of that journey," he said.

Some of those people included BESIX Watpac project team that helped prepare the space for the move. 

"The Vickers Vimy is a treasured national asset and Adelaide Airport is proud to be its custodian." Brenton Cox, Adelaide Airport Managing Director

Attracting aeroplane enthusiasts and history buffs alike, the Vickers Vimy will be made available for public viewing later this year.

The Vickers Vimy is arguably the most important piece of Australia’s pioneering aviation history.

Developed as a bomber in the closing stages of WW1, it entered service too late to see action but was used by Brothers Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith to cross the Atlantic. Supported by mechanics Wally Shier and Jim Bennett, this Vickers Vimy took off from England on 12 November 1919 and reached Darwin 28 days later.

Powered by twin Rolls Royce engines, the open cockpit Vimy completed the 17,910 kilometre journey from the UK to Australia at an average speed of 137 kph.

The extraordinary feat won them the £10,000 prize offered by the Commonwealth Government for the first Australians to fly from England to Australia in less than 30 days.

The exhibition space will be the second aviation history display facility delivered by BESIX Watpac. The company completed the stunning Qantas Founders Museum facility in Longreach, Queensland in 2020.

Congratulations to all contributors in achieving the safe, secure and efficient relocation of this iconic aircraft, this is a marvellous feat.

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