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Short Sandringham

These pictures and text were extracted from a web page done by Peter Smooth about his holidays as a child at Lord Howe Island, 300 miles east of Australia, during the early 60's. Click here for original article

This was a magnificent experience when you landed in the "lagoon" of Lord Howe Island. If you had a forward "cabin", as the plane touched down, your window would be completely engulfed by the spray and wake as the aicraft first touched down. Having flown in both the Sandringham version (stubby nosed) and the Solent (pointy nosed) versions of the aircraft I definitely felt that the Solent had the softer landing

Once landed, the only way off the aircraft was to step out into a launch. I still remember the gentle lapping sounds as the waves washed against this majestic aircraft's hull.

Here you can see the insignia and paint scheme of the plane as it was in 1965. Earlier designs (1963) had an offwhite/cream body, the same colour over the whole aircraft except deep green on the underside of the main fuselage and the floats. I have a magnificent colour shot of the plane with the 1963 colours flying directly overhead (but sadly it's on standard 8 movie film)

Here you can clearly see the differences between the 2 aircraft. I remember there only ever being 2 aircraft at any one time. I also believe that Ansett were reluctant to have both craft at Lord Howe at any one time as they were prone to being washed off their bouys and swept ashore during storms. I think Ansett lost 2 aircraft over a period of time due to storms on the island. I remember seeing a strange looking photograph of the main hull, stripped of wings and tail planes being scuttled out to sea. It had apparently suffered too much damage during a storm and there were no facilities on the island to repair it, so it was stripped and the parts were shipped back to Sydney. You can just make out someone standing on the top of the fuselage (top picture).

This was a typical tourist shot when you first arrived at the island. They used to do the full "Aloha Hawaii" bit with the flowers around your neck. Also when it was time to go, it was customary to throw these into the water as you headed off in the launch to the plane.

The plane spent all of it's time moored out in the lagoon tied to a bouy. It would just gently rock from side to side, facing into the wind or tide. Every time you looked at it you would get a different view.


Some days, when the wind was right, the plane would fly straight over the beach and over our heads as it was landing. I remember the thrill when you could hear the distant rumbling of the plane as it approached the island. It really was like "Fantasy Island", kids would say "The plane, the plane!" and many of us would rush out to the beach to watch it land. This was our only connection to the mainland, so a plane arriving with newespapers and mail was a big event.

After landing, the plane would then taxi back to the jetty at the northern end of the island. I always wondered how such a heavy thing (and so low in the water) could ever get up enough speed to break free of the water

Usually within a couple of hours of a landing, you'd then be treated to a magnificent takeoff. Some days when the wind was very strong, the old girl barely seemed to move, instead it seemed to just lift straight out of the water. I still remember the magnifinent sound and the deep throaty roar of the engines at takeoff, then the burbly sound as the aircraft disappeared into the distance. The boat to the left was used to keep sailboats from straying into the aircraft's path.

How's this for a view from the toilet? It's such a shame that the slides don't scan well. The quality of the shot is not the best, but you can imagine how it must have felt to be this close to the mighty props.

I remember other things from the 3hr flight like having to get up at 3am to be on the plane so that the arrival at Lord Howe would catch the correct "tide" in the lagoon. I remember having to abort a departure because of bad weather at the other end and having to return the next day at 3am again wondering if we'd go "this time". I remember stepping into the forward section of the nose of the aircraft (just past the toilets) and feeling the wind whistling in from a gap in the openable nose section (no worries about decompression, we never flew high enough. They used to give us these tiny little packets of lifesavers to help "pop" our ears as we climbed or descended.) I remember going upstairs into the second story tail section at the rear of the plane, and I also remember a little about the roomy cabins we had towards the front. It was like a train cabin, each containing 6 people or maybe 8 (I think), 3 or 4 facing towards the rear, and the same number facing the front.

Pictures and Text © Copyright Peter Smooth

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