After second world war Sandringham’s flying boats, earlier Short Sunderland’s bomber planes flew in Australia. Beautifuel pictures about it.


Ansett Flying Boat Services (AFBS) began in May 1952 as an associate company of Ansett Airways, when Reginald Ansett took over Barrier Reef Airways at Brisbane (Catalinas and Sandringhams). By taking over the routes and assets of the collapsed Trans Oceanic Airways the following year, AFBS was able to move its base to Rose Bay Flying Boat Base on Sydney Harbour.

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With a fleet of Sandringhams and later a single short-lived Catalina, AFBS offered scheduled airline services along the Queensland coast
and Great Brrier Reef island holiday resorts, as well as Sydney-Lord Howe Island, 800 Km out in the Tasman Sea.

By the 1970s, the fleet was two Sandringhams VH-BRC Beachcomber and VH-BRF Islander and the only scheduled service was Sydney-Lord Howe Island. The economics of maintaining these mighty four-engined flying boats was forcing their retirement.


A runway was finally built on Lord Howe Island and the final Ansett flying boat departed the island for Sydney on 10 September 1974, farewelled by a crowd of nostalgic residents who had travelled to the mainland for 27 years on the flying boats of various airlines.

Ansett Airways flying boat services in Australia

7 thoughts on “Ansett Airways flying boat services in Australia

  • Hello,
    Here in the UK I am an established author on airliner history subjects. I am currently working on a book on airline flying-boat operations world-wide, and am wondering whether you might be able to assist me with sourcing illustrations. My book will include the operations of Ansett Airways to Lord Howe Island and elsewhere, and I would be very grateful for permission to use two or three of the images on your website as illustrations. All images used will be properly credited to their sources, and all assistance will be acknowledged in the completed book. I hope you can help me in some way, and look forward to hearing from you. With best wishes,
    Charles Woodley, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

  • I saw Beachcomber yesterday at the Sky Museum in Southampton (UK), she’s been really well preserved and you can go inside too. Well worth a visit if you’re in the UK

  • Just saw Beachcomber today on Netflix Spitfire-The Plane that Saved the World, in the Sky Museum, Southhampton along with a AAFBS passenger loading ramp.

  • My father worked for Ansett in the 1960’s through the 1970’s.
    I was lucky enough to fly on the last Catalina flight to Hayden,at that stage we were living on Hayman whilst my Father sorted out the accounts and general management of the resort.
    Later in the early seventies we flew to Lord Howe in a Sunderland commanded by Stewart Middlemiss.
    I also flew in DC 6B’s,and remember Viscounts and Electra’s running at full power to beat TAA competing services to their destination.
    Full was cheap then

  • We were fortunate to travel to Lord Howe Island for our honeymoon on “Islander” (VH-BRF – ML814) in January 1966. The first flight was eventful. Although we had an early flight to catch the tide at Lord Howe we didn’t get there. The pilots had noticed a wobble on the starboard wing and thought there could be a catastrophe. Slowly “Islander” was turned around and with a TAA Electra and other small craft flying as observers to try and determine the issue, we returned to Rose Bay. Those on the upper deck had observed the attention but those of us on the lower deck were oblivious until we were about to touch down in the water. It was then that, looking out the window, we saw DCA Boats racing through the water trying to keep up with the flying boat. What we didn’t know was that it was an emergency. It wasn’t until we were approaching the jetty at Rose Bay that we saw the fleet of ambulances and Police wagons that we realized the pilot’s announcement during the flight that “there is a slight difficulty and we are returning to Rose Bay” had much more significance. We spent a couple of days at home and then flew out on the Monday. Arrived safely. The complicating factor was that “Beachcomber” – now resident in the UK – was already stranded at LHI awaiting the replacement engine that was on “Islander”.

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