HARS to Fly a Warbird Lockheed AP-3C Orion!

HARS AP-3C Orion on the ramp at the museum. The aircraft is currently inhibited to prevent moisture getting in to sensitive areas, but will receive a thorough going over in preparations for flying again in the coming months. (photo via HARS)
HARS AP-3C Orion on the ramp at the museum. The aircraft is currently inhibited to prevent moisture getting in to sensitive areas, but will receive a thorough going over in preparations for flying again in the coming months. (photo via HARS)
HARS AP-3C Orion on the ramp at the museum. The aircraft is currently inhibited to prevent moisture getting in to sensitive areas, but will receive a thorough going over in preparations for flying again in the coming months. (photo via HARS)

Australia will soon have a Lockheed AP-3C Orion on the warbird circuit. The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society, better known as HARS, took delivery of a retired Royal Australian Air Force maritime patrol aircraft last December, but will take official ownership in a special ceremony within their museum at Illawarra Regional Airport in Albion Park, New South Wales at 11am on November 3rd. Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Marshall Leo Davies will do the honors, and then HARS can get to work doing what they do best, putting historic aircraft back in the air!

A closeup of A9-753 showing her squadron heritage. Note the tape covering panels lines and the silver foil window coverings. These were put in place to protect the integrity of the aircraft while the Australian Department of Defense sought permission to formally hand over ownership to HARS. The museum will soon get to work preparing the Orion to fly once more. (photo by Phil Buckley)
A closeup of A9-753 showing her squadron heritage. Note the tape covering panels lines and the silver foil window coverings. These were put in place to protect the integrity of the aircraft while the Australian Department of Defense sought permission to formally hand over ownership to HARS. The museum will soon get to work preparing the Orion to fly once more. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The Orion in question is Bu.160753, which joined the RAAF in May, 1978 as A9-753. The RAAF is gradually retiring their aging Orions as their replacement, the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, comes on line. Nineteen Lockheed Orions have served in the Royal Australian Air Force, and the final examples are due to stand down in 2021.

It is quite a feat for HARS to both obtain ownership of A9-753 and the ability to fly it. This highlights the professional qualities of HARS as an organization to gain both the trust of the Australian Department of Defense, and also the US government, which had to approve the transfer under the terms of the initial Australian purchase agreement. HARS has a long tradition of operating large maritime defense aircraft. They fly two examples of the Orion’s predecessor, the Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune; these being former RAAF A89-273 and the ex-French Aéronavale Bu.147566. HARS owns two additional Neptunes, A89-272 and -281, which are on static display elsewhere. Alongside their Neptunes, HARS operates a Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina Bu.46679. They also have an airworthy Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation (ex-USAF 54-0147), a brace of DHC-4 Caribou (A4-210 and -234), and as if that weren’t enough, HARS will eventually take delivery of John Travolta’s Boeing 707, which they will also fly!

Obviously, restoring and flying such large and complex aircraft takes a lot of money, and the dedication of hundreds of volunteers. This is an important mission, and anyone wishing to contribute to this magnificent organization should click HERE to find out how.


Many thanks to Phil Buckley for bringing us this story.

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