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Newcastle Museum preserving unique piece of Australian aviation history

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In a move, which is sure to delight aviation buffs, a unique Australian homemade helicopter will soar into Newcastle Museum.

Although it originally took to the skies in 1971, the one-of-a-kind “Philicopter” – designed, built and flown by late Newcastle engineer Duan Phillips – was eventually grounded.

And, it stayed that way for some time.

However, its latest journey is now complete after being donated to its new “home”.

Following extensive trials and more than 100 hours of flight time, the rare craft was certified by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and later marketed at the Paris Air Show.

However, this prototype is the only example that was built.

The helicopter remained in a hangar at the Royal Newcastle Aero Club in Rutherford until it was donated to the Newcastle Museum by Phillips’ family following his passing last year.

It was recently transported by tow truck to the premises’ off-site storage facility.

City of Newcastle director of museum, archive, libraries and learning Julie Baird said Newcastle Museum played an important role in interpreting and preserving the city’s fascinating history.

“The Philicopter will join other iconic transport objects, including the Victoria Lifeboat and Newcastle’s last surviving, first generation electric tram, as part of the museum’s collection of 12,000 objects,” she explained.

“It will initially be housed in one of our dedicated collection storage facilities, where it will be conserved and photographed while a future display within the museum is considered.

“But, we thank the Phillips family for entrusting us with this one-off piece of Australia’s aviation history, which can now be professionally preserved and used to inspire, entertain and engage Novocastrians and visitors for generations to come.”

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