Orion A9-760 arrives at Sunshine Coast Airport prior to it's official handover...
Orion A9-760 arrives at Sunshine Coast Airport prior to it's official handover...

Queensland Air Museum has announced the acquisition of an exciting new aircraft; an ex-RAAF P 3 Orion surveillance aircraft.

The hand-over took place at the Sunshine Coast Airport this morning in the presence of Department of Defence, RAAF representatives and invited guests. Federal Member for Fisher, Andrew Wallace MP, officially handed over AP-3C Orion A9-760 to members of the Queensland Air Museum.

The Orion is a very significant acquisition for QAM. A9-760 was flown into the Sunshine Coast Airport from RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia recently on its way to become a QAM display. The aircraft now must be partially dismantled and transported to QAM in Caloundra. This is a huge project and is expected to take many months planning and perhaps, even longer in the implementation stage, but visitors to QAM can expect to see A9-760 at QAM early in 2019.

“QAM President, Cameron Elmes expressed his appreciation to the Minister for Defence – Senator The Hon Marise Payne, Federal Member for Fisher – Andrew Wallace MP, the Department of Defence – CASG and the RAAF for making this wonderful aircraft available so future generations can honour its 40 years of service to our nation. QAM also greatly appreciates the continued support and assistance from Sunshine Coast Airport, in supporting the museum, and the Sunshine Coast community in acquiring such an iconic aircraft as this P-3 Orion. Without this co-operation QAM could not have contemplated accepting such a large aircraft. The Orion was simply too large to land at Caloundra Airport.”

So, what’s so important about A9-760?

The Orion was developed from the Lockheed Electra airliner and the first aircraft entered service with the United States Navy in 1962. The Orion proved to be a very versatile anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft which was operated by many other nations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea and Japan.

A9-760 is particularly famous for its role in the rescue of yachtsmen Thierry Dubois and Tony Bullimore who were competing in the Vendee Globe singe-handed around the world race in 1997. A9-760 was the first RAAF Orion to join the search and its crew made the first sighting of the missing yachtsmen.

In the late nineties, the RAAF Orion fleet was given a major system upgrade which brought significant improvements in capability. So extensive was the upgrade that the aircraft were redesignated AP-3C with the A denoting Australia. A9-760 was the first Orion to be upgraded.

RAAF Orion’s, including A9-760, were deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations from 2003 until 2012. The RAAF Orion fleet was also involved in the search for MH370 as well as many other search and rescue operations.

A9-760 will sit comfortably at QAM amongst the 80 historic aircraft, all with a story to tell.

Queensland Air Museum is open to the public every day and the OPEN COCKPIT WEEKEND is coming up on July 7 & 8, a great opportunity to see all QAM has to offer in a carnival atmosphere.

Check out the details on our web-site www.qam.com.au or on Facebook.

QAM is a 100% volunteer organisation and welcomes visitors every day of the year (except Christmas Day)