THE Cunningham Highway became a runway overnight as a wingless C-47 or 'Gooney Bird' made its way through Cunningham's gap to its new home at the Amberley Aviation Heritage centre.   

The 1200km journey of the heritage plane from the Nowra HMAS Albatross military base concluded in Amberley late Sunday afternoon, after weathering multiple road work sites and one wild summer storm.  

The heritage model aircraft was which was withdrawn after 53 years of service in 1998 was transported in two parts.

The body weighing in at 8 tonnes was hauled by Rocklea based heavy haulage company Centurion Transport, in a combination of a K200 and extendible trailer while the propeller, wings and tail fin followed separately.   

As a highway Pilot, and owner of Working iT Pilots Nick Bantouvakis said this was one of this more unique jobs. 

"Technically we got to pilot a plane," he laughed.    

 

ON THE ROAD: The 'Gooney Bird' making its way from NSW to its new home in Queensland.
ON THE ROAD: The 'Gooney Bird' making its way from NSW to its new home in Queensland. Work iT Pilots

 

Driving one of the three pilot vehicles involved, Nick was responsible for leading the 7.4 metre wide convoy through the urban maze of Sydney to Northern NSW and Queensland.   

"It was a job well done by all parties involved," Nick said.   

"We do a lot of heavy haulage mining gear and all facets of loads, but no this isn't our common type of freight," he said.  

"It turned a lot of heads when you saw people pulling off, you hear the comments on the radio.   

"The classic question we were hit with was why don't you just fly it there," he said.   

WET WEATHER: The biggest obstacle on journey was the summer storm that hit late just as the convoy began the Cunningham’s Gap decent.
WET WEATHER: The biggest obstacle on journey was the summer storm that hit late just as the convoy began the Cunningham’s Gap decent. Working iT Pilots

However the operation to move the 1945  vintage aircraft was easier said than done.   

As part of the four-month planning process in cooperation with Centurion Transport team Nick had travelled to Sydney twice, to ensure the planned route was free of any obstructions.     

"There is always a lot of planning involved, but loads like tend to receive more media attention than our usual," Centurion Divisional manager of heavy haulage east, Jason Carnes said.  

"Kelsey Belton from our permits department was key in this project, and dealing with road works.  

For Jason and his team the biggest obstacle for the journey was the storm that hit late  Sunday afternoon, just as they made the Cunningham's Gap  descent. 

"It hit us as we were going over the gap," Jason said.  

"It really just slowed things down."   

The aircraft will be reassembled by RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage personnel and volunteer members.   

Reassembly involves reattaching the propellers, wings, elevators and tail fin and final preparations for public display in World War II representative colours.  

 

ON THE ROAD: The 'Gooney Bird' making its way from NSW to its new home in Queensland.
ON THE ROAD: The 'Gooney Bird' making its way from NSW to its new home in Queensland. Work iT Pilots
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