Unusual traveller hits Shoalhaven roads

Anyone travelling on the Princes Highway through Nowra on Wednesday, might have seen an unusual sight.

An ex-Royal Australian Air Force Gloster Meteor was being transported from the Fleet Air Arm Museum at HMAS Albatross to what will eventually be its new home at RAAF Base Amberley, south west of Ipswich in Queensland.

The former fighter bomber of the Korean War era had been at the museum for about 10 years.

Fleet Air Arm Museum Museum manager and senior curator Terry Hetherington said the aircraft had an interesting history.

“It had been on static display at an Air Force storage facility in Villawood in Sydney in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said.

“It was repainted in the ’80s and transferred to the Air Force Cadet Unit at the Camden Aerodrome and was then moved to storage at the Air Force Museum at Tom Cook in Victoria.

“The Fleet Air Arm Museum acquired the aircraft 10 years ago with the view of putting it on display in our Korean War area.

“But those plans changed and the aircraft is being transferred to the RAAF Heritage Centre at Amberley.”

RAAF Base Amberley is Australia’s main bomber base, home to the F/A 18 Super Hornets and the former home of the F-111 bombers.

Toowoomba based company Simon National Transport, who specialise in moving heavy loads, undertook the transfer.

And anyone up late on Thursday night could see another aircraft movement, with an ex-RAAF Douglas C-47 Dakota also being transported to Amberley.

Due to the Dakota’s size it will be hitting the road around midnight.

The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' only jet aircraft to achieve combat operations during the World War II.

The Meteor's development was heavily reliant on its ground-breaking turbojet engines, pioneered by Sir Frank Whittle and his company, Power Jets Ltd.

Development of the aircraft began in 1940, although work on the engines had been under way since 1936.

The Meteor first flew in 1943 and started operations on July 27, 1944 with No. 616 Squadron RAF. The Meteor was not a sophisticated aircraft in its aerodynamics, but proved to be a successful combat fighter.

Gloster's 1946 civil Meteor F.4 demonstrator G-AIDC was the first civilian-registered jet aircraft in the world.

Several major variants of the Meteor incorporated technological advances during the 1940s and 1950s.

Thousands of Meteors were built to fly with the RAF and other air forces and remained in use for several decades.

The Meteor saw limited action in the Second World War. Royal Australian Air Force Meteors fought in the Korean War.

Specialised variants of the Meteor were developed for use in photographic aerial reconnaissance and as night fighters.

The Meteor was also used for research and development purposes and to break several aviation records.

On November 7, 1945, the first official air speed record by a jet aircraft was set by a Meteor F.3 of 606 miles per hour (975 km/h).

In 1946, this record was broken when a Meteor F.4 reached a speed of 616 mph (991 km/h).

Other performance-related records were broken in categories including flight time endurance, rate of climb, and speed.

On September 20, 1945, a heavily modified Meteor I, powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent turbine engines driving propellers, became the first turboprop aircraft to fly.

On February 10, 1954, a specially adapted Meteor F.8, the "Meteor Prone Pilot", which placed the pilot into a prone position to counteract inertial forces, took its first flight.

The Meteor became increasingly obsolete in the 1950s as more nations introduced jet fighters, many of these newcomers having adopted a swept wing instead of the Meteor's conventional straight wing.