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Flying Boat Operations in the Redland Shire 1953 to 1971

The Flying boats operated originally from the Hamilton reach of the Brisbane River during the war years. However, due to increased problems with shipping in the river it was decided in 1946 to look for another airport. After several assessments, it was decided to move to Redland Bay, this move only became a reality in June 1953.

The first flying boat to land in the Redlands was the Barrier Reef Airways Sandringham “Coral Clipper”. This aircraft landed at east of Cleveland Point on the 10th of Dec 1950 and used a special buoy off the Paxton Street jetty. The purpose of the flight was to celebrate the Redland shire 100th Anniversary and undertook several joy flights with councillors.

The Redland Bay flying boat base officially opened at 3pm on the 3rd of June 1953. The first regular passenger service was undertaken by an Ansett Airways Sandringham VH-BRC. Beachcomber, that arrived from Sydney via Grafton and Southport at 5.15pm. Later that day a Qantas Catalina VH -EBC Island Chieftain arrived from Port Moresby on its way to Sydney for maintenance.

On the 6th of June 1953 the first regular Qantas passenger service to use the Redland Bay base arrived at 8.30 pm from Port Moresby, this was the Sandringham VH-EBV Pacific Warrior. Qantas then used the Redland Bay base for its South Pacific services via Noumea and Suva until the 1st of June 1955. The Qantas last flight to use the base was the Sandringham VH-EBY Pacific Voyager from Port Moresby on the 21st of June 1955.

During these years with both Qantas and Ansett using the airport the air movements averaged 1000 flights a year From 1953 to 1955 Qantas used the Redland Bay Hotel as their main booking office and refreshment station.

From 1955 until 1971 Ansett Airways was the only user of the Redland Bay airport with its lord Howe, Queensland Island flights and the contract to Gladstone, while the land airport was being built. The last flight being that of the Sandringham VH-BRF Islander on the 25th of October 1971 with its departure to Sydney.

The airport was officially closed in 1974 as all the Australian flying boats had been sold to Antilles Airways in the Caribbean.

Reference: Wilson, John (1990) History of Civil Flying Boat Operations 1946-1974 Brisbane-Redland Bay-Southport.