Replica of Australia's most famous and historically significant aircraft will be in the air ready to kick start a better year

Home run: Jim Thurstan, Brian Van Bragt, Alex Brown and Rod Richardson have been installing the restored engines on the Southern Cross II when they arrive. Picture:Adam McLean.
Home run: Jim Thurstan, Brian Van Bragt, Alex Brown and Rod Richardson have been installing the restored engines on the Southern Cross II when they arrive. Picture:Adam McLean.

The third and final engine rebuilt for the replica of Australia's most famous and historically significant aircraft will be shipped from Brisbane on Monday and is due to arrive at Shellharbour Airport by Friday.

The man sponsoring the rebuild to the tune of around $200,000 is Robert Grienert who is a founding member of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society. And runs a significant historical aircraft restorations company in Hangar 2.

Mr Greinert said the company he and his partner Rosemary Szabo own in Brisbane, Historic Aircraft Engines, has done a complete overhaul of all three engines for the Southern Cross replica. They acquired the business because it was the last radial engine company in Australia.

The owner Peter Brooke had done all their aircraft engine restorations in recent decades.

"I told him I would buy the business if you keep doing my engines," Mr Greinert said.

Like new: The overhaul on the third and last engine has been completed in Brisbane where it was being boxed up on Friday to be loaded on a truck for transport to HARS next week.

Like new: The overhaul on the third and last engine has been completed in Brisbane where it was being boxed up on Friday to be loaded on a truck for transport to HARS next week.

"He has done a total rebuild.

"Unfortunately the engines weren't very well stored when the came off the airplane after it had the accident.

"Its been a totally exhaustive rebuild with every little precaution taken.

"It had to be modernised for air worthiness directives that have to be complied with.

"Things have change since the aircraft was built originally.

"We made sure nothing has been left to chance. And have installed components like new crank shafts.

"The engines are better than new now".

The Southern Cross II close to completion at HARS.

The Southern Cross II close to completion at HARS.

Mr Greinert said he sponsored the engine rebuild because he loves historical aircraft and their restoration is 'like a hobby gone wrong'.

He said future generations wouldn't get to see what the original aircraft looked like in flight if it wasn't for HARS rebuilding the replica that was built in South Australia five decades ago for the Australian Bicentenary.

"The Kingsford-Smith story is so important historically," he said.

"It is a story that has to be told and the best way to do that is with a flying aeroplane.

"People look at that thing and say "I can't believe it was an airliner".

"The story behind the man is an incredible one as well.

"I remember when the Southern Cross replica was first offered to HARS by the South Australian Government I said "we have got to get it because this is really important". When it is back in the air it will help educate future generations".

Mr Greinert said COVID-9 border restrictions permitting he will bring Mr Brooke down to Albion Park when the three engines are all fitted so he can do the first engine runs.

He said the testing process was done very carefully before the first flight is even attempted.

Once the aircraft is operational and gets the tick of approval from CASA the team at HARS will start looking at the possibility of finding or building a spare engine.

Mr Greinert said the first flight in early 2021 will be a very significant day he won't miss for the world.

But as soon as it lands his passion for aircraft engineering projects will have him asking "what's next?"

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This story Replica of Australia's most famous and historically significant aircraft to kick start 2021 first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.