The Port played host last month to the historic homecoming of a Bristol Freighter – one of the last remaining in the world – as it made its final journey across the globe.
The rare 1954 aircraft was shipped from New Zealand to Portbury docks, ahead of its restoration and eventual display at the Aerospace Museum in Filton.
The Type 170 aircraft is one of only 11 complete survivors left in the world from the original 214 built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company between 1945 and 1958. They were used in the repatriation of people out of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, gave extensive service to the New Zealand Navy, and even featured in the James Bond film, Goldfinger.
Having flown so far and wide, however, not a single Bristol Freighter was left in Europe until a campaign by the Bristol Aero Collection charity brought one home for posterity. On January 4, a Freighter which had been in storage since 1977 completed its 11,000-mile journey from New Zealand, arriving on the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Tiger vessel.
She was met by Port Manager Steve Baker and his team, who expertly unleashed the 10-tonne, 21m long fuselage from the ship, moving it on to a tug unit, which was then driven off the vessel by General Operative, Gintas Jakumas. Bill Morgan, one of the project leaders, said: “Getting the plane back home has not been an easy task but it's all worth it. We thank Bristol Port for all their support in helping with the next step of her journey.”
The Freighter finished its journey by road back to the old Filton Airport, where fittingly it had made its first flight in 1954.