This ex-Royal Malaysian Air Force Twin Pioneer is making steady progress on her return to flight in Wedderburn, Australia. (photo by Phil Buckley)

This ex-Royal Malaysian Air Force Twin Pioneer is making steady progress on her return to flight in Wedderburn, Australia. Here she can be seen as the pilot prepares to run her engines in October, 2016. (photo by Phil Buckley)

A rare, ex-military aircraft is currently under restoration to fly at Wedderburn Airport near Sydney, Australia. WarbirdsNews dedicated Antipodean correspondent, Phil Buckley, recently paid a visit, and this report describes what he found. Owned by Richard Thompson, the Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer is one of just seven complete survivors believed to exist, and she’s nearing the end of an extensive period of repairs and maintenance.

Chief Engineer Johnny Land consults a Twin Pioneer manual. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Chief Engineer Johnny Land consults a Twin Pioneer manual. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Working on the starboard engine accessory bay. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Working on the starboard engine accessory bay. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The immaculate-looking cockpit. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The immaculate-looking cockpit. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Mid-October inspections. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Mid-October inspections. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Towing the Twin Pin from her hangar. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Towing the Twin Pin from her hangar. (photo by Phil Buckley)

VH-EVB basking in the sun before her engine run. (photo by Phil Buckley)

VH-EVB basking in the sun before her engine run. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The port engine starting up during mid-October. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The port engine starting up during mid-October. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Designed and built in the mid-50s at Prestwick Airport, near Glasgow, Scotland, the Twin Pioneer passenger/cargo plane was known familiarly as the ‘Twin Pin’. Her slightly ungainly looks belie her superb Short Take Off and Landing performance. She was capable of getting into very tight, semi-prepared air strips inaccessible to most other aircraft. Britain’s Royal Air Force received 39 examples, and the type saw significant service with them during conflicts in the Middle and the Far East. Another significant customer, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), obtained fourteen of the sturdy transports. The Twin Pioneer also enjoyed a successful civilian career, especially with mineral survey companies needing to get supplies and personnel into and out of small, semi-prepared air strips in remote locations.

A look at the system of immense flaps which contribute to the Twin Pioneer's excellent STOL characteristics. The aircraft can operate from airstrips just 900 or so feet long. (photo by Phil Buckley)

A look at the system of immense flaps which contribute to the Twin Pioneer’s excellent STOL characteristics. The aircraft can operate from airstrips just 900 or so feet long. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Another view of the massive, high-lift wing. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Another view of the massive, high-lift wing. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Now registered in Australia as VH-EVB, this particular Twin Pin rolled off the assembly line in 1962 as construction number 586, the penultimate example from a production run of 87 airframes. The RMAF accepted her as FM1066 on May 28th, 1962, and she continued to serve with them for the next decade. Following FM1066’s military retirement in 1972, an Australian company named Aerial Agriculture acquired her along with three other examples: FM1061, FM1070, and FM1071. The company ferried the Twin Pins from Malaysia to Bankstown Airport near Sydney, New South Wales during mid-1973. They were briefly listed on the Malaysian civil registry for this movement as 9M-ART (our subject aircraft), 9M-ARU (ex-FM1061), 9M-ASB (ex-FM1070) and 9M-ARS (ex-FM1071). The transports sat in open storage at Bankstown for a few months while Aerial Agriculture decided what to do with them. In the meantime, the company reserved registrations with Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for all four airframes, with VH-EVA saved for FM1071, VH-EVB for FM1066, VH-EVC for FM1061 and VH-EVD for FM1070.

VH-EVA was the first of Aerial Agriculture’s Twin Pioneers out of overhaul. She received her airworthiness certificate on May 1st, 1975, and left for an overseas customer in the USA as N48207 the following month. There was then a long pause before the next airframe underwent rebuild. It wasn’t until January 7th, 1982 that VH-EVB received her flight certificate. She has been in and out of airworthiness several times over the past four decades, with her most recent flight being sometime in 2011. Aerial Agriculture’s remaining Twin Pioneers, VH-EVC and -EVD, never flew again sadly. A violent storm swept through Bankstown in the 1980s, damaging the two airframes beyond economic repair. Amazingly though, VH-EVC still survives at Bankstown with the Australian Aviation Museum, while significant chunks of VH-EVD remain in storage at Wedderburn Airport as a spares source for -EVB.

In the cockpit getting ready to start the engines. (photo by Phil Buckley)

In the cockpit getting ready to start the engines (Richard Thompson on right and chief engineer John Land on left). (photo by Phil Buckley)

Starting up the port engine. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Starting up the port engine. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Another shot showing the starboard engine running. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Another shot showing the starboard engine running. (photo by Phil Buckley)

A great head-on shot of both engines running.(photo by Phil Buckley)

A great head-on shot of both engines running.(photo by Phil Buckley)

A happy smile after a successful engine run. (photo by Phil Buckley)

A happy smile from chief engineer John Land after a successful engine run. (photo by Phil Buckley)

A very happy Richard Thompson following an engine run in mid-October. (photo by Phil Buckley)

A very happy Richard Thompson following an engine run in mid-October. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Richard Thompson and his team of volunteers are continuing the work of Sy Allsep, without whose dedication -EVB and -EVC would never have survived to the present day. They are restoring VH-EVB to allow the public to see this amazing aircraft as it once operated. The Twin Pioneer has been receiving regular, intensive maintenance covering engine overhauls, fuselage repairs and airframe inspections. The aircraft has its own hangar, dedicated with a memorial plaque to Sy Allsep.

The memorial plaque to Sy Allsep whose dedication and love for Twin Pioneers ensured that VH-EVB and VH-EVC survive to this day. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The memorial plaque to Sy Allsep whose dedication and love for Twin Pioneers ensured that VH-EVB and VH-EVC survive to this day. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The hangar provides the long-term possibility of preserving the Twin Pioneer by offering protection from the elements and allowing maintenance and restoration to continue without interference from inclement weather conditions. During WarbirdsNews visit in October, 2016, the restoration crew worked on both Alvis Leonides 531 engines and ran a series of tests, including a full-power ground-run which proved successful. Further efforts have continued and, according to recent news, the focus is now on getting the paperwork sorted. Thompson hopes to have the Twin Pin flying again before the end of the year! The plan is to eventually repaint the aircraft in a representative Royal Air Force scheme. WarbirdsNews will be sure to bring our readers updates on this fascinating project as soon as they become available.

The crew of volunteers who dedicate so much time to resurrecting VH-EVB. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The crew of volunteers who dedicate so much time to resurrecting VH-EVB. (photo by Phil Buckley)

A period shot of a desert camouflaged, Royal Air Force Twin Pioneer. These aircraft served during British conflicts in Aden and elsewhere in the Middle East during the 1960s and early 1970s. (photo via Wikipedia)

A period shot of a desert camouflaged, Royal Air Force Twin Pioneer. These aircraft served during British conflicts in Aden and elsewhere in the Middle East during the 1960s and early 1970s. This color scheme is one of the options available to VH-EVB. (photo via Wikipedia)

One Comment

  1. steve flinders says:

    Good luck with the restoration chaps. Loved the twin pin. Found memories of it in Aden and Oman.

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