The Sandringham service from Sydney to Lord Howe Island was the last scheduled flying boat service in the world.
The Ships that Flew is a tribute to the golden era of flying boats that ended in 1974. Drawing on remarkable archival footage, the film captures the romance of these magnificent machines, including the extraordinarily effective "Flying Porcupine" used against the Luftwaffe in World War II, hard-working Catalinas and luxurious Solents that were the flagships of the tourism market.
It recalls the times when flying boats were an integral part of transportation systems, beginning in the 1930s when they connected Great Britain to the Empire and you could fly from London to Sydney "in just seven days". Routes were busy and competitive -- Qantas, Ansett and Air New Zealand all operated services, between Australian cities, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. But after the war, the flying boats posed a threat to massive global investment in airports. They were slow, costly and hampered by poor weather. The film takes a look at the business side of the industry, including the building of an airstrip on Lord Howe, as well as remembering the legendary airmen who took to the skies in the ships that flew.
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