Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review - Bush Pilots Airways (BPA) / Air Queensland

Air Queensland commenced operations in 1951 as Bush Pilots Airways by founder Bob Norman with a de Havilland DH-90 Dragonfly registered as VH-AAD out-of Cairns. Expansion came about in 1972 when the airline absorbed Queensland Pacific Airways Ltd, taking over its Douglas DC-3 aircraft.
 
Bush Pilots Airways changed its name to BPA in 1972 and by then was operating a variety of aircraft including the DC-3, Britten-Norman Trislanders and Swearingen Metroliners.
 
In 1981, BPA was re-branded Air Queensland and the existing fleet was joined by Fokker F-27 Friendships which were later replaced by a small fleet of ATR 42-200 airliners.
 
From two bases - Brisbane and Cairns - Air Queensland operated services up and down the Queensland coast with stops including Maroochydore / Sunshine Coast, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville. Also from Cairns - Cooktown, Karumba, Normanton, Weipa and Bamaga were connected.
 
These services were very popular with business travellers and tourists alike as frequent stops prevented high altitudes from being achieved offering good views of the scenic parts of Queensland.
 
For many years, Air Queensland DHC-6 Twin Otters connected coastal ports such as Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns to many of the popular tourist islands off the Queensland Coast such as Great Keppel Island, Brampton Island, Hamilton Island and Palm Island among others.
 
Air Queensland was the last airline in Australia to use Douglas DC-3s on regular scheduled services, the last being withdrawn in April 1988. In that same month, the Air Queensland name ceased to exist when the airline was absorbed into Australian Airlines – formerly Trans Australia Airlines (TAA), which was later absorbed into Qantas.
 
For many years, a former Bush Pilots Airways DC-3 became a static display (mounted on a pole) at Cairns Airport. It was removed in 2008 because of concerns for it structural integrity. However, at the Queensland Air Museum, Caloundra Airport - a former BPA Swearingen Metroliner remains on display.
 
On a final note, Air Queensland.blogspot would like to sincerely thank aviation enthusiast / artist and ex-commercial airline pilot, Alan Spears, for sharing many of the photo's published in this post.
 
Art by Alan Spears can be viewed or purchased by clicking onto the link below:
 
 
 
ex-Air Queensland Cessna 310R VH-BPI. (Alan Spears) 

 
An ex-Air Queensland de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter. (Alan Spears) 

 
ex-Air Queensland de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter VH-TGH & VH-AQB. (Alan Spears) 

 
ex-BPA de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter VH-TGF. (Alan Spears) 

 
A pair of ex-BPA Britten-Norman Trislanders. (Alan Spears)

 
ex-BPA Britten-Norman Trislander VH-BPB. (Alan Spears) 

 
ex-BPA Britten-Norman Trislander VH-BGS. (Alan Spears) 

 
ex-BPA Swearingen SA226-TC Metroliner II VH-BPV.

 
ex-BPA Swearingen SA226-TC Metroliner II VH-BPV.