Possibly the oldest civil aviation building in Australia, the national heritage listed Qantas Hangar in Longreach, celebrated its 95th birthday last Friday.
In February 1922, Qantas Airways, a fledgling airline at the time, won the airmail contract between Charleville to Cloncurry and decided to build a series of more permanent aircraft hangars.
The first hangar to be completed, in August 1922, was in Longreach.
The simple galvanised ironclad building has links with iconic figures in Australia’s history including the founders of Qantas Airways and the Reverend John Flynn, who established the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
It is also where Qantas built its own aircraft between 1926 and 1929, one of the few airlines do so.
When Qantas moved its operations to Brisbane in 1930, the hangar continued to be used as an aircraft maintenance hangar until 9 June 1996 when it became home to the Qantas Founders Museum, before the museum expanded to the new exhibition building in 2002.
The Longreach Qantas Hangar was added to the National Heritage List in 2009 and is recognised as one of the oldest surviving buildings associated with Qantas and early civil aviation.
Qantas Founders Museum curator Tom Harwood said the hangar provided great insight to how basic and tough conditions were for early Australian airlines and aviators.
“Qantas Founders Museum has restored the Qantas Hangar to reflect what it would have looked like when Qantas was operating in the building in the 1920s, with original workshops and machinery, replica aircraft of those built by Qantas and of course the hot, dusty conditions,” he said.
“On this building’s birthday we should celebrate its history and how fortunate we are to still have it,” Mr Harwood said.
The public was invited to a free morning tea to celebrate the occasion.