Newcastle Museum set to preserve unique piece of Australian aviation history

11 Apr 2023

It took to the skies in the 1970s as Australia's only homemade helicopter, but following decades in storage, its latest journey has been completed by road after being donated to the Newcastle Museum.

The one-of-a-kind "Philicopter" took its first flight in 1971 after a decade-long project by Newcastle engineer Duan Phillips to design, build and fly his own helicopter.

Following extensive trials and more than 100 hours of flight time, it was certified by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and was 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 and was donated to the Newcastle Museum by Phillips' family following his passing last year. It was recently transported by tow truck to the Museum's off-site storage facility.

City of Newcastle Director of Museum, Archive, Libraries and Learning, Julie Baird, said Newcastle Museum plays an important role in interpreting and preserving our 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," Ms Baird said.

"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.

"We thank the Phillips family for entrusting us with this unique 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."