Geoff Smith with a model of the first Qantas passenger plane, near and the nose of a 1955 Vickers Viscount.
Geoff Smith with a model of the first Qantas passenger plane, near and the nose of a 1955 Vickers Viscount. Contributed

Air museum unveils expansion dreams that need some help

A GROWING Coast tourist attraction has bold plans for expansion and eyes on creating a new entry statement for Caloundra.

It just needs a little help.

Queensland Air Museum at Caloundra is the nation's largest and most diverse aviation museum.

It started in 1973 and has about 430 members, including 110 active members who log about 60,000 volunteer hours a year working at the Pathfinder Drive, Caloundra West, site.

Its marketing and promotions manager Geoff Smith revealed the popular attraction was struggling for space as its collection grew and it was eager to press on with its plan to acquire a neighbouring 3.8ha property to secure its future.

In a 16-page future plan circulated to Sunshine Coast Council and other key figures, the Air Museum has outlined its hopes to secure a 30-year peppercorn lease of the neighbouring land from the council.

VISIONS: Some early concept sketches of the proposed new Queensland Air Museum building.
VISIONS: Some early concept sketches of the proposed new Queensland Air Museum building. Contributed

Discussions had been ongoing since 2012 about the acquisition, as the air museum battled capacity issues on its existing 2ha site.

The museum has added an average of three new aircraft a year to the collection over the past 32 years.

Mr Smith said without the extra land the museum risked having to decline new acquisitions, which would damage the reputation it had built up.

VISIONS: Some early concept sketches of the proposed new Queensland Air Museum building.
VISIONS: Some early concept sketches of the proposed new Queensland Air Museum building. Contributed

The museum was eyeing off the likes of Classic F/A-18A Hornets and PC-9 trainers which could become available in the next 12 months.

"We simply don't have the land available to us to make further acquisitions,” Mr Smith said.

He said at present the museum attracted as many international visitors as it did Sunshine Coast locals, and the museum was targeting attracting as many as 150,000 visitors within 30 years.

WINNER: Geoff Smith picking up the Sunshine Coast Business Awards 2018 gong for Small Business-Attractions.
WINNER: Geoff Smith picking up the Sunshine Coast Business Awards 2018 gong for Small Business-Attractions. Barry John Alsop

If they could secure the extra land Mr Smith said the not-for-profit attraction hoped to develop a new visitors' reception area, and "create a new gateway to Caloundra” for those coming to the coastal town from Caloundra Rd.

Mr Smith said early estimates had placed the cost of the new building between $1.5 million - $2 million.

"It could have a tremendous impact (on tourism and the regional economy),” he said.

Mr Smith said they hoped to work with council to overcome any issues with the neighbouring land and other government agencies, to ensure the museum's future expansion.

PLANS: There are bold plans to revamp the Queensland Air Museum at Caloundra.
PLANS: There are bold plans to revamp the Queensland Air Museum at Caloundra. Contributed