Keeping flying history alive

Aviation Heritage Museum volunteer Brian Farr says the collection is one of Perth’s best-kept secrets.
Aviation Heritage Museum volunteer Brian Farr says the collection is one of Perth’s best-kept secrets.

Mr Farr, of Bull Creek, began volunteering 14 years ago at the museum, at the Royal Australian Air Force Association (RAAFA) estate, and now gives guided tours of its unique aircraft.

He will also be one of the first people to give guided tours of the museum’s latest exhibit, an ex-RAAF UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, nicknamed the ‘Huey’ and synonymous with the Vietnam War, which will be open for tours from November 17, the month the museum celebrates its 35th anniversary.

With his fellow 230 volunteers, Mr Farr said he loved helping to welcome more than 27,000 visitors each year and especially loved hearing their stories.

‘Over the years, we’ve had the likes of pioneer aviators Sir Norman Brearley, Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader, and Nancy Bird, who was founder of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association,’ Mr Farr said.

‘There have also been many ex-servicemen who have dropped in as visitors, particularly those who served in World War II. Their memories are incredible.

‘I’ve seen an 88-year-old man become 18 again as he told his story of flying in the Lancaster. I am keen to pass on what they tell me to other visitors as they participate in my tours, it keeps the history alive.

‘It will be interesting to see if the Huey will prove as popular as our Lancaster Bomber tour, which remains the best-restored Lancaster in the world, and the only Lancaster that visitors can go inside in the southern hemisphere.

‘I think the museum is Perth’s best-kept secret, with many locals having driven past it for decades neither knowing it existed nor realising the incredible exhibits that are on display.’

Personalised tours of the Lancaster Bomber, the Dakota C-47 and the Spitfire are also available daily, by prior booking, with tours limited to two visitors at a time.

The museum’s collection includes 30 aircraft and thousands of artefacts.