Backward Glance: Aviation pioneers and their history on the Sunshine Coast
  • Wednesday 11 May 2016
In 1922, WWI pilot Captain Jack Treacy was the first person to land an aeroplane named “Queen of Sheba” at Brisbane Airport then known as Eagle Farm.

Captain Treacy had returned to Australia after WWI and stayed with aviation. 

He bought Bert Hinkler’s Avro which today is preserved in the Brisbane Museum. 

Captain Treacy was one of the first to take an aircraft to many country towns including Maleny, Nambour, Maroochydore and Caloundra. 

In 1922, a second hand six cylinder single engine plane was flown from London, England en route to Melbourne, by two Australian flying officers, Lieutenants RJ Parer and JC McIntosh.

At the time, it was the first such aircraft to achieve the flight and only the second plane to ever land at Nambour. 

The pilots made the unexpected landing in a paddock on the south side of Nambour in order to visit their friend George Thornton, who had helped them to acquire the plane. 

Following unofficial notification of their arrival, a volunteer committee of local businessmen marked the landing field with a large sheet of white material, streamer flags and smoke fire.

Some 250 people assembled to greet the aviators, who were then driven to the Royal Hotel for lunch before flying on to Brisbane.

The first plane to land at Caloundra was in 1926 when Captain Treacy, who was a member of Australian Flying Corps No 3 Squadron, was forced to land on Kings Beach. On touchdown, the plane nosedived into the soft sand. 

He ran regular joy flights from Brisbane to the North Coast at that time. 

The plane, G-AUBJ, was registered in the name of R. C. Sturbridge of Queen Street, Brisbane. 

With local assistance, it was loaded onto one of Andrew Tripcony’s boats near Kings Beach and transported to Bribie Island. 

It was felt the firmer sand on Bribie Island would be more suitable for a take-off. 

Many locals helped with the rescue of the plane and its subsequent trip to Bribie Island where Captain Treacy made a successful take-off.

Several planes were used for joy flights on the North Coast, now Sunshine Coast. 

The flights cost 10/- ($1.00) per five minutes and became a popular holiday treat during the Sunshine Coast’s early years of aviation. 

Captain Treacey, accompanied by a sales manager for Queensland Air Navigation Ltd and members of the Maroochydore Association, selected a site for an aerodrome near the Maroochydore Beach in October 1928. The area was cleared and a landing strip for light planes was marked out.

Captain Treacy used to land in Hankinson's paddock where Maleny High School is currently located. Two planes from Brisbane were used to conduct joy flights above the Maleny area. 

During WWII, Captain Treacy served his country once more, this time for the Australian Army where he was in charge of anti-aircraft guns, motor transport and fitted guns north of Sydney Harbour. 

The official opening of Caloundra’s Airport was in August, 1972. Caloundra’s Airport has a 915 metre long runway and an 850 metres access strip. They were created during the first stages of developing this airport.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

Hero image caption:
Image captions: M180073 First plane to land on Maroochydore Beach, 1922.

Carousel image captions:
Image 1: Cr DA Low, MLA and a party of Maroochy Shire Council officials welcoming the first plane to touch down at the Pacific Paradise Airstrip (now Sunshine Coast Airport), Mudjimba on 14 August 1959.
Image 2: Runway and tarmac upgrade, Maroochy Airport, Marcoola, 1982.
Image 3: Jim Grimes with a light plane on Maroochydore Beach, December, 1926. The plane was one of several offering joy flights on Maroochydore Beach. The flights began in December 1922.
Image 4: Aeroplane landed at Nambour during a flight from England to Australia ca 1920.
Image 5: Lifesavers and their friends gathered by an aeroplane on Maroochydore Beach during Easter, 1925.
Image 6: Aeroplane piloted by Captain Treacy used for joy flights nose-dived onto the beach after attempting to land in soft sand, Kings Beach, 1926.