ABOUT EAGLE FARM AERODROME

 

Brisbane's Eagle Farm Aerodrome began in 1925 like many aerodromes - as a paddock. When Smithy landed the Southern Cross after its epic trans-Pacific flight in June 1928, Eagle Farm was little more than a paddock with two hangars (1). One of these hangars was erected by the government in 1924.(4) The other was owned by a flying school run by Q.A.N.T.A.S. In 1929, the government began acquiring land to the south-west of Brisbane for what was to become Archerfield Aerodrome although early press reports named the new aerodrome as Rocklea, a suburb which adjoins Archerfield. The Qantas move from Eagle Farm to Archerfield is described in the autobiography of Sir Hudson Fysh, one of the founders of Qantas.

The old Eagle Farm aerodrome had been abandoned, much against our will, by the Civil Aviation authority, owing to the heavy expense of extensions over swampy ground, and a shift was made to Archerfield, a good aerodrome but farther out of the city. We moved over in January 1931 and occupied our fine new hangar, of which we were very proud. Sidney Williams put it up for us at a cost of 3,793.14s. and we also moved our smaller hangar over from the old aerodrome. (2)

The government hangar was also moved from Eagle Farm to Archerfield where it is incorporated into Hangar 1 which still stands to this day, as does the relocated Qantas building which is known as Hangar 4.(4) With the closure of Eagle Farm on 31 January 1931, Archerfield became Brisbane's airport. However, ten years later, the difficulties with swampy ground at the old Eagle Farm site were overcome and all it took was a World War! In the aftermath of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, manpower and materiel en route to the Philippines was diverted to Brisbane. With other convoys to follow, the necessary facilities to re-erect and test fly military aircraft exceeded the capacity of Archerfield, which also had drainage problems of its own. Consequently, the decision was made to redevelop the old Eagle Farm site. History records that;

... by the last quarter of 1942 the depot for the assembly of aircraft was complete. It consisted of five Igloo hangars and five warehouses with two loading platforms along a new railroad siding. (3)

The "five hangars" are believed to have been Hangars 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 shown on the following contemporary plan of Eagle Farm. Of these, only 4, 5, 6 & 7 were of "Igloo" construction, a type defined by historian Roger Marks as "a nailed, wooden, boxed truss, three pin parabolic arch". The five warehouses were on the opposite side of the railway line.

With the closure of the American base at Eagle Farm on 31 January 1947 and its official handover to the Australian Government on 10 March 1947, development of the airfield as Brisbane's main civil airport began in earnest. Civil operations progressively moved from Archerfield to Eagle Farm and on 29 May 1949 Archerfield saw its last departure of a "heavy" airliner.

 

Images of Eagle Farm Aerodrome

(All images are linked to larger versions with detailed captions)

 

Eagle Farm circa 1944

Of these hangars, the only one still standing, and with any prospect of survival, is the much-modified Hangar 7 (marked with a red dot). This building is heritage listed because of its wartime use by the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit (ATAIU) for rebuilding and testing captured enemy aircraft. Hangar 1 (bottom left) is still standing although its future is not so assured.

Read more about Hangar 7

 

The Eagle Farm terminals circa 1960

 

The Western Apron in 1965

 

The Western Apron in 1965

 

Eagle Farm in 1965

 

Eagle Farm in 1965

 

The Western Apron in 1966

 

The Western Apron in 1967

 

The TAA apron and palm trees circa 1967

 

Eagle Farm in June 1968

 

Hangar 3A in July 1968

 

Hangar 8 in 1952

 

Hangar 8 in July 1968

 

Hangar 8 in July 1970

 

Runway 22 in July 1969

 

The TAA apron in May 1971

 

The Ansett apron in November 1971

 

The TAA apron in November 1971

 

The Western Apron in November 1987

 

Eagle Farm circa 1975

 

Eagle Farm 2014

 

Brisbane Airport 2014

 

 

Sources
1
Kingsford-Smith, C.E. & Ulm, C.T.P., 1928, Story of "Southern Cross" Trans-Pacific Flight 1928, Penlington & Somerville, Sydney, p.212.
2
Fysh, Sir Hudson, 1963, Qantas Rising, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, p.240.
3
Casey, Brigadier General Hugh J., Engineers of the Southwest Pacific 1941-1945 - Vol. VI Airfields and Base Development. Cited by;
Marks, Roger R., 1994, Queensland Airfields WW2 - 50 Years On, self-published, p.147.
4
Dunn, Peter, Archerfield at War, http://www.ozatwar.com/arch@war.htm

 

Thanks
The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Peter Dunn, Peter Gates, Roger Marks, Peter Cokley, Wal Nelowkin and David Thollar in the compilation of this page.

 

ABOUT THIS WEBSITE

This Website had its beginnings in June 1991 when I published a modest little booklet entitled Significant Events at Brisbane Airport. When I say "modest", I am talking sixteen photocopied pages and a print run in the order of twenty, so don't be too surprised if you haven't got one in your library! This booklet listed various "firsts" and "lasts" which I had personally chronicled during the course of my work with Qantas at the 'drome. This booklet later evolved into a similarly modest, occasional newsletter which sought to record the daily comings and goings at Brisbane Airport. This newsletter bore the strange name of Squawk Ident.

That's A Funny Name.

For those readers not familiar with the term, "Squawk Ident" is Air Traffic Control talk for "use your transponder to identify yourself on radar". Therefore, it seemed to me to be an appropriate name for a publication which intended to identify specific aeroplanes for the historical record. Squawk Ident was soon displaced by Noel Oxlade's excellent Armchair Aviation which sadly, is no longer published. Similarly, its successor, AIR NEWS Queensland is also no longer available. More recently it has become increasingly apparent that my original "Significant Events" booklet was in dire need of a major update. Thus was born:

Squawk Ident - The Website!

While I expect that some may be disappointed that this material is not available in printed form, the flexibility and immediacy of the World Wide Web is an attractive alternative to the considerable expense of the print medium. In any case, readers of this Website are at liberty to print these pages and share them around. This after all, is the prime purpose of publishing in the first place - to record and to disseminate facts which might otherwise be lost.

Some readers might question the inclusion of flying boat operations from the Brisbane River and Redland Bay. The reason for this is that these stretches of water, in their time, constituted Brisbane Water Airport and their movements were controlled from Eagle Farm. Similarly, some readers might wonder why operations from Archerfield have been ignored entirely, even though Archerfield was Brisbane's main airport for many years. Principally because of a lack of information on this aerodrome I have had to make a conscious decision to deem it beyond the scope of this Website, even though Archerfield is a particularly historic aerodrome. For information on the history of Archerfield, please see Peter Dunn's Archerfield @ War.

Squawk Ident is not intended as a "Brisbane Airport Newsletter", for it will not record daily aircraft movements unless they fall into a "first" or "last" category or are otherwise significant. For the official word on Brisbane Airport, please visit the Brisbane Airport Corporation Website. It is my hope that Squawk Ident will provide a valuable resource for airlines, airport operators and the news media as well as for fellow historians and enthusiasts.

Mudmap

The layout of Squawk Ident should be fairly straightforward and easily navigable, but here are some pointers to assist:
  • Events are listed in chronological order.

  • The chronology is divided into two sections, 1928-1988 and 1988-2002. These periods relate to the old (Eagle Farm) Airport and the current Brisbane International Airport which opened in 1988.

  • Remember - "firsts" and "lasts" refer to Brisbane unless stated otherwise.

  • First = the first ever.

  • Last = the last ever. This can be difficult to define, particularly while HARS continue to operate! Its use is usually restricted to operators which have gone out of business or operators which have permanently withdrawn from service a particular type of aircraft or if an aircraft type is now extinct.

  • FRS = First Regular Scheduled. The airline or aircraft type referred to may have visited previously as a diversion or a charter. "Regular Scheduled" implies at least a weekly frequency over a period of several months.

  • LRS = Last Regular Scheduled. The airline or aircraft type referred to may visit again at some time in the future as the airline continues to operate the type in question.

  • Click on the little camera icon for related images - in most cases of the actual event described.

  • If you are unfamiliar with airport/city codes there is a listing under CODES. This is not intended as a comprehensive listing, as only codes used within these pages are included.

  • There is a comprehensive INDEX which should lead you to that elusive event. The dates in the index are linked to the relevant entry in the chronology.

  • Any corrections or additions will be listed under UPDATES.

  • Links to related sites can be found under SOURCES.


I hope you find Squawk Ident both useful and enjoyable.
Please email me with any additions, corrections or comments. I expect that some of the events recorded in these pages may have slipped through the net when I compiled the index. Please let me know if you find any such omissions. The CONTACT page lists alternative means of contacting me.

Although the last event recorded in these pages happened in 2002, this website is not abandoned! When the author retired from Qantas in 1999, it was intended that Squawk Ident would continue to record significant events at Brisbane Airport. Unfortunately, for various reasons, this has not been practicable. Accordingly, I have decided that this site will not attempt to cover events beyond March 2002. However, some events within the period 1928 to 2002 may be retrospectively added or updated if further information becomes available. It should be remembered that the majority of events recorded by Squawk Ident resulted from personal observations by the author. Without a first-hand presence at the airport, it has not been possible to record events with the same degree of accuracy that historical records demand. It is hoped that Squawk Ident continues to be a useful historical resource and for this reason the site will be maintained indefinitely.


Regards


Ron Cuskelly

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