The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT), located in Western Springs, Auckland, New Zealand has recently gotten it’s massive Short S.45 Solent 4 ZK-AMO “Aranui” under cover in it’s new 32,000 square foot Aviation Display Hall, where it towers over the rest of the assembled collection. This flying boat was in regular commercial service with Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) until 1960, transporting 45 passengers in spacious luxury unheard of these days.
The Short Solent was the last flying boat to be developed by Short Brothers, plc in the late 1940s and represented the pinnacle of luxury flying boat airliners, providing the well-heeled the last word in luxurious air travel on a plane that boasted two decks and an onboard chef who cooked meals to order. ZK-AMO “Aranui” was the last operational Solent to fly the iconic ‘Coral Route’, serving Auckland New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga and Tahiti, outlasting its other TEAL flying boat fleet-mates who had been supplanted by land-based aircraft in 1954.
“Aranui” will continue to undergo restoration and conservation work, including a complete refit of its plush interior to the standards under which she served her passengers during her heyday. Another massive Short Brothers flying boat, a Royal New Zealand Air Force Sunderland V NZ4115 is under restoration outside at MOTAT and will be joining “Aranui” indoors out of the weather once restoration work on its wings has been completed.