The story of the DC-2 Uiver is a fascinating and important historical event and the eventual permanent display of a restored DC-2 aircraft, together with extensive memorabilia will commemorate in perpetuity the part played by the citizens of Albury in saving the original Uiver from possible disaster.
The events of the early hours of October 24, 1934 will forever remain etched in the history pages of Albury.
It was the morning that the townsfolk rescued an airliner from certain peril and won the hearts of a nation on the other side of the World.
This is the story of the Uiver, a DC2 aircraft that made an emergency landing in Albury while participating in the great 1934 London to Melbourne air race.
Where it all began
Built in 1933, the Uiver was the first of 18 DC2 aircraft acquired by the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for passenger transport.
It was the first flying machine with automatic steering and one of the few aircraft with retractable landing gear. It was also the first plane to feature an entirely separate cockpit and food preparation area.
Not only were the DC2 transports more efficient than their nearest competitor, they were much faster, with a cruising speed of 270 kilometres an hour
Keen to exploit the possibilities of world air travel, KLM entered the Uiver in the 1934 London to Melbourne air race.
The event was sponsored by Sir MacPherson Robertson, the chocolate millionaire who believed it a fitting way to celebrate Melbourne 's centenary.
On October 20, 1934 twenty aircraft including the Uiver took off from Mildenhall for the epic 12,300 mile event which would take them across the globe to Melbourne Australia .
The Uiver carried a crew of four, headed by Captain R.D. Parmentier and three passengers. It was the only race participant with paying passengers.
The aircraft performed well, and was only a few hours behind the leader when it left Charleville in Queensland on the last leg into Melbourne.
But a fierce electrical storm cut wireless contact and the Uiver drifted off course, becoming hopelessly lost.
RAAF signallers at Laverton were trying in vain to contact the airliner. They alerted all towns along the route to be ready to help. Radio stations broadcast messages, navy ships switched on their searchlights and railway stations along the Melbourne to Albury line put on signal lamps.
Albury's municipal electrical engineer used the entire town lighting system to flash the word �Albury� in Morse code. Just after midnight, the aircraft was heard circling the town.
Arthur Newnham of Albury radio station 2CO broadcast an appeal for listeners to take their cars to the Albury racecourse and line-up so a landing strip could be illuminated with the car headlights.
At 1.20am, the Uiver dropped two parachute flares and made its approach to land. It bumped several times on the undulating centre of the racecourse and slithered to a halt 100 yards short of the inner fence. The aircraft was safe.
Around the world, millions of people huddled anxiously over their wireless, breathed a collective sigh of relief.
But the drama was not over yet; daybreak saw 8 tonnes of DC2 bogged in thick Albury mud. The Mayor, Alderman Alf Waugh rallied 300 people to dig it out and pull the Uiver on to firmer ground.
Later that morning, the Uiver resumed its flight to Melbourne only to take out second place in the great race and win the handicap prize.
A new chapter
An anti-climax came in December 1934 when the Uiver crashed in the Syrian Desert during a mail flight from America to Jakarta killing all onboard.
Following the tragedy, the people of Albury contributed to a memorial erected in Holland to honour those killed in the crash.
Then in 1979, the Albury West Rotary Club decided it wanted to erect a memorial to commemorate the link between the people of Albury and the Netherlands as a project to celebrate Rotary's 75 th Anniversary.
With funds raised from a successful air carnival, the club purchased a derelict DC2 airliner and hauled it from Bankstown airport to Albury, restored it and renamed it the Uiver. This is the oldest of seven DC-2 aircraft left in the world.
In 1980, the Uiver replica was moved to her new home at the Albury Airport . In a moving ceremony, the memorial was dedicated to the pioneers of air travel and to the actions of the people of Albury in October 1934.
After more than 20 years sitting aloft at the airport, the Uiver replica was dismounted amid concerns about its safety.
Long term, it's planned to house the restored aircraft in a permanent climate controlled environment at the Albury Airport .
The restoration program is estimated to take three to four years,
The Uiver Memorial Community Trust is seeking donations and support for the restoration program from patrons, sponsors and donors.
If you would like to receive a restoration brochure�from The Uiver Memorial Memorial Community Trust, please send your contact details to the Trust Chairman, Mr. Howard Hinde at e-mail - HowardHinde@bigpond.com.au