It took a few winches, a number of tugs and plenty of deep breaths, but the third aircraft attraction at the Qantas Founders Museum has been moved to its permanent display position under the recently completed airpark roof in Longreach.
In early March the combined effort of museum staff, volunteers, local contractors, Watpac Constructions and the Qantas Engineering aircraft recovery team raced predictions of imminent rain to move the Lockheed Super Constellation from its restoration compound behind the museum airpark to its display tie-down point between the museum's Boeing 747 and 707.
The move was completed in two stages, with the aircraft firstly towed forward about 80 metres across open ground, using the museum's vintage aircraft tug, before being transitioned sideways about 20m.
While the first stage could be completed by volunteers and museum staff, the second stage required the support of the Qantas Engineering Aircraft Recovery Team with its expertise in managing unusual situations.
This stage involved jacking the aircraft at multiple points, one after the other, to put locally-fabricated trolleys under the landing gears and then carefully winching sideways on a concrete track.
To add some anxiety, the first stage was completed with the knowledge that imminent rain was forecast and that the ground between the Connie compound and the roof area could become very boggy.
Fortunately, the aircraft was moved seamlessly before the very welcome rain arrived.
Qantas Founders Museum board member and Super Constellation project manager Rodney Seccombe said the move was a special moment for all involved.
"Over five years ago, after keeping a watching brief for many years, we successfully bid for and saved this Super Constellation from being scrapped in Manila.
It is wonderful to see this beautifully restored aircraft positioned with our other museum aircraft and under the protection of our airpark roof
Volunteer retired aircraft engineer Greg Boyce, who has been involved with the project from the earliest activities at Manila Airport, said moving an aircraft of the Super Constellation's size and age was always tricky.
"With thorough planning it went off without a hitch," he said. "The commitment and expertise of all involved has brought about this great result."
Read more: Connie makes her Longreach debut
Qantas Founders Museum CEO Tony Martin said the project would not be possible without the continuous support of volunteers, contractors and organisations such as Qantas.
The final aircraft to be positioned under the airpark roof will be the museum's DC-3.
The Airpark Roof Project is a $14.3 million two-stage project.
Stage one, constructing a roof about half the size of the Sydney Cricket Ground to provide an all-weather venue for expanded visitor experiences, is fully funded by the federal government as a Community Development Grants Project.
Stage two of the project includes a state of the art light and sound show night experience, telling the story of Qantas' origins projected onto the aircraft and the only one of its kind in Queensland, plus the construction of a nine metre high viewing platform and lift.
Stage two is supported by the Queensland government as a Growing Tourism Infrastructure Grant project.
The project is expected to be completed in April 2020.
The Airpark Roof and Light & Sound show is the largest project that the Qantas Founders Outback Museum has undertaken since its establishment in the National Heritage Listed Qantas Hangar in 1996, before expanding to the main modern Museum in 2002.