The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) is a group of aviation professionals and volunteers that are based at Wollongong Airport (YWOL), just over an hour’s drive south of Sydney, Australia. They also have a branch at the town of Parkes in New South Wales.
The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society
While the group seems to consist mainly of retired pilots and engineers, there are an increasing number of pure enthusiasts joining in on the many restoration projects underway.
One of HARS prize possessions is a Lockheed Super Constellation restored from a derelict state in the Davis Monthan boneyard/graveyard and then flown across the Pacific to Australia.
New aircraft are being added to the collection regularly, with a Lockheed AP-3C Orion being added in the past few months and John Travolta’s Boeing 707, replete in Qantas period livery, being donated last year.
The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society was formed in 1979 by a group of enthusiasts who immediately began scouring the Australian continent and islands in search of derelict airframes or artefacts. Many restoration efforts were conducted on-site before each aircraft was brought to the Museum.
Two Bristol Beaufighters were recovered and restored. One of them formed part of the deal that saw the Super Constellation acquired. That Beaufighter now is safely ensconced in the collection at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio.
HARS adopted a constitution and became an incorporated society in 1988 and shortly after was granted status as a ‘Deductible Gift Recipient’ by the Australian Taxation Office. In a significant event in 1997 HARS was awarded the Grand Master’s Australian Award by the International Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators for the restoration of the Connie.
The mission statement of HARS is:
“To recover, and where possible restore to flying condition, aircraft or types of aircraft that have played a significant part in Australian Aviation History both in the Civil and Military arenas.”
In addition to the flying aircraft, static aircraft and aircraft under restoration (see lists below), there are are other artefacts on display. These include:
- Allison V1710 Piston Aero Engine
- Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah Piston Aero Engine
- Pratt & Whitney R1830 Radial Piston Aero Engine
- Rolls Royce Avon 26 jet Aero Engine
- Rolls Royce Merlin Piston Aero Engine
- Rolls Royce RB211 Turbofan Jet Aero Engine
- Westinghouse J34 Turbojet Aero Engine
- Wright R-3350 Radial Piston Aero Engine
- Hastings Deering Air Stairs
- Leyland “Hippo” Tanker
- Turana Target Drone
- Vampire Single-Seat Cockpit
H.A.R.S. is really less an Aviation Museum and more a Restoration Society of ex-industry specialists, engineers and pilots – as the name clearly states. It is about restoring, displaying and, if possible flying historic aircraft. As such they don’t have any education programs that are mentioned on their website.
The website cuts to the chase, telling you on the home page – Who we are, How to get here, Tours, recent news, and a slider with some nice images.
The menu system also gets straight to the point with a list of aircraft that flying, on static display or under restoration. And that is really all you need to know. Nice and simple.
H.A.R.S is approximately 90km south of Sydney and about 10km south of Wollongong. This drive takes around 75 minutes. Another option is to travel by rail from Sydney, which takes around 2 hours. Detailed directions are available on their website at this address.
Various other tours are available.
The museum is open from 9.30am to 3.30pm every day of the year except Christmas day.
In addition to the static displays in the museum, HARS also has monthly ‘Tarmac Days’. Check the website (link at the bottom of the article) for more information.
An annual airshow called ‘Wings over Illawarra’ is held each year in April/May at the aerodrome at which the museum is located. Details can be found at the airshow website.
There are a number of HARS-related videos online. The one that I have selected (below) shows the arrival of a Qantas 747-438 following a (very) short trip from nearby Sydney, as it lands on the (also very) short runway at Wollongong Airport.
The collection of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society can be grouped into Flying Aircraft, Static Aircraft and Restorations.
- CAC CA-25 Winjeel (Young Eagle)
- Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina
- Cessna 310B
- De Havilland DHA-3 Drover
- De Havilland DHC-4 Caribou
- De Havilland DH-82 Tiger Moth
- Douglas DC-3
- Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation
- Lockheed SP2-H (P2V-7) Neptune
- Lockheed AP-3C Orion
- North American NA-16 Texan/Harvard
- Bell AH-1 Huey Cobra
- Boeing 747-438
- CAC CA-27 Sabre
- English Electric Canberra
- CAC CA-29 Mirage IIIO
- General Dynamics F-111C
- Hawker Hunter FR-74S
- Piaggo P-166 Portofino
- Auster J5G Autocar
- De Havilland DH-115 Vampire T-35
- Douglas DC4
- Fokker FVIIB replica
- Grumman S-2G Tracker
- Messerschmidt 108 (NORD 1002)
- LET L-200A Morava