The Uiver Memorial Community Trust – a not-for-profit organisation – is devoted to restoring Albury’s Uiver Memorial DC-2 aircraft.
In 1934 the MacRobertson Air Race proclaimed itself as the greatest international air race devised, and history has confirmed that bold claim. The aircrews that completed the journey from England to Australia were honoured in a parade in Melbourne and treated like modern day rockstars.
However, along the way, the KLM DC-2 airliner Uiver became lost in a thunderstorm on the final leg of the race and was forced to land on Albury Racecourse at night.
The remarkable story of the rescue of the Uiver by the townsfolk of Albury, and it still taking the handicap prize in the race, is the stuff of legend. It is one of those events which could not be more amazing if it were scripted.
At Albury, where the Uiver was saved, the community honours this incredible story by restoring the world’s oldest Douglas DC-2 aircraft, with the aim of making it a museum centrepiece for future generations.
Russ Jacob in an awkward spot removing panels from the belly of the DC-2.
They’re lying down on the job Volunteers restoring the Uiver memorial DC-2 have been caught lying down on the job – which is what they often have to do to reach the aircraft’s nether regions.
As the project moves forward from the tail, work has started on stripping the panels off the belly which can only be reached by lying on your back in the cramped space beneath the fuselage.
The precision required in the restoration dictates the fuselage is held secure in a steel jig so every component remains correctly aligned, the reason the fuselage is not simply turned upside down to give access to the underside.
New volunteer Adam Schwebel flat out removing one of the floor beams.
Meanwhile, inside the aircraft, the floor is being taken apart, which has the volunteers usually prone on their stomachs to reach each rivet so the floor assembly can be removed for repair or replacement. Already, three of the 10 floor cross members have been replaced, each one rebuilt or constructed anew to bring the DC-2 back to its factory condition.
Three new floor beams are back in the aircraft, with seven more to go.
Rebuilding the floor takes the aircraft closer to its factory condition.
The cargo door, including the passenger entry, passes the test fitting.
A door into our DC-2’s other life Another box has been ticked in the restoration of the Uiver memorial DC-2 with a successful test fitting of the cargo door which was added to the aircraft during its Second World War service with the Royal Australian Air Force. Purchased from Eastern Airlines in the US in 1941, the aircraft was one of 10 DC-2s that saw service with the RAAF. Our aircraft was initially used to train radio operators and navigators but after extensive modifications in 1942, the plane was used to transport aircraft engines.
The cargo door, installed at the rear of the aircraft, incorporates the original passenger entry and a window. The strengthening required by the 1942 modification provided a challenge for the restoration team but the door frame was successfully replaced so the cargo door could sit firmly in the fuselage. As well being restored as a memorial to the Uiver story, the DC-2 will also be telling its own story, especially its service with the RAAF, its wartime number, A30-11, still remains, though somewhat faded, on a panel salvaged from the aircraft when its restoration began.
The DC-2’s wartime tail number is on display in the restoration hangar.
…and we still need those rivets The smallest part of the memorial DC2 has the biggest job – the humble rivet holds all the components together and more than 990,000 rivets will be needed to complete the restoration of the aircraft.
Community support is providing each and every rivet which is why the Give A Rivet fundraiser is so important to the project. Each rivet is valued at $2, so every donation, large or small, is a step closer to achieving our vision of a memorial to the Uiver and Albury’s role in saving the aircraft on that harrowing night in 1934.
Donations can be made through the Uiver Memorial Community Trust website https://www.uivermemorial.org.au/ or on the QR code below.
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