Trans-Australia Airlines Museum

ANAC - TAA Starts

The New TAA

TAA acquired its first two aircraft in mid-June 1946, both were converted C47s, now the DC3 aircraft, with 12-15 more DC-3s to be added over the next few months.

All aircraft were originally bought by the Australian Government under the lend-lease agreement with the U.S.A., and were surplus to requirements in the last stages of the war.

Below is a copy of the letter from John Curtin, Prime Minister, where he discussed the purchase with General Douglas MacArthur

PM letter for DC3's

In July, Treasury allocated £350,000 to TAA to order four larger modern DC-4s from Douglas Aircraft Corp. and Lester Brain appointed John Watkins as Chief Technical Officer.

Watkins was one of the key figures in TAA's success, with his first job to travel to the USA to accept delivery of the DC-4s.

TAA planned to start regular services on 7th October and all was progressing as planned, but a federal election was to be held on September 28th, which placed emphasis on starting operations as soon as possible.


The Chairman of ANAC Arthur Coles, addressed the commissioners at the meeting of the 1st of September saying "the Government wants us to start services as soon as possible and that the airline is to be up and running by election day. If Labor loses the election there'll be no airline. We'll be out of a job. Any suggestions"?.

After some discussion it was agreed that the airline was not ready.

It had a name, some excellent pilots, and some aircraft, but no ground facilities, no sales staff, no documentation, not even tickets, but with a great deal of effort, it should be possible to make the planned start date of 7th October.

Arthur Coles "I have some news for you"

With the discussion complete, Coles said "I have news for you. We start next Monday".

The following week proved frantic, hiring staff, 'borrowing' a tin shed at the RAAF base at Laverton (the main Melbourne airport had been turned into mud by heavy rain and was undergoing major runways and taxiway works), creating manuals for essential functioning, printing blank passenger manifests, tickets, and revised weight and balance load sheets for aircraft, and making passenger steps and baggage carts because there was no time to buy them in the ordinary way.

On the 9th of September 1946 Captains Hepburn and Nickels took off from Laverton at 5:45AM bound for Sydney. At 8:35AM the Skyliner "Hawdon" touched down at Mascot on TAA's first official flight.

First TAA flight to Sydney

TAA's first scheduled flight carried a full load of VIPs and just one paying passenger.