Hangar 17

A Significant Part of Aviation History

The Launceston Distillery is housed in Hangar 17 at Launceston Airport, located south of the city centre at Western Junction, just north of the historic Evandale village.

Hangar 17 is the oldest surviving aviation building in Tasmania and is representative of the early twentieth century civil aviation hangars constructed in Australia, and has played a key role in the development of aviation in Tasmania and Australia.

Opened in 1930, the Western Junction Aerodrome was established to provide a base for the Australian Aero Club (Tasmanian Section). As the main aerodrome in the state, a hangar and club house were built to allow the Aero club to operate its tiger moth planes and train pilots.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip leaving from Launceston Airport in February 1954 (Tasmanian State Archives)
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip leaving from Launceston Airport in February 1954 (Tasmanian State Archives)
Planes in front of Hangar 17 (Tasmanian State Archives)
Planes in front of Hangar 17 (Tasmanian State Archives)

In January 1931, commercial flights commenced between Essendon Airport in Melbourne and Western Junction. The now legendary Charles Kingsford Smith piloted the Southern Cloud, a monoplane identical to the famous Southern Cross on the maiden flight, transporting ten passengers. The flight time was three hours.

Tasmanian Aerial Services was formed the following year in 1932 by I.N. Holyman, V.C. Holyman and L.M. McKenzie (later renamed as Holyman’s Airways) to provide flights to Flinders and King Islands in Bass Strait. A new hangar was built to house their first two planes, the Desoutter monoplane “Miss Flinders” and Fox Moth biplane “Miss Currie”. The “Holyman” hangar, which is now called “Hangar 17″, or “H17” was the second hangar at the aerodrome and is the oldest surviving structure at the airport.

In 1936, Holyman’s Airways was merged with Adelaide Airways to form Australian National Airways (ANA). ANA was the largest domestic airline in Australia prior to WWII.

In 1957, Ansett Transport Industries purchased ANA to form Ansett-ANA, which was renamed as Ansett in 1968 and operated until the closure of the airline in 2001. Hangar 17 was used as the departure point for Ansett until the current Launceston Terminal was opened in 1968, after which it served as the location for Ansett Airfreight until 2001.

Historic Hangar 17
Hangar 17

The Construction of Hangar 17

Hangar 17 was originally 33 x 20 metres with a ceiling height of 5.5 metres, which at the time was reported to be “big enough to accommodate the largest aeroplane in Australia.” Hangar 17 was twice the size of the first hangar at the aerodrome used by the Aero Club. It’s steel construction was lauded at the time as an example of modern construction techniques which supported the roof without the need for any centre columns.

The hangar has been renovated a number of times. Initially it was extended back towards Evandale Road to provide additional depth. Airline offices and a departure lounge were added, and finally it was renovated to suit the operation of Ansett Airfreight operation.

Additionally, another building was built between the hangar and Evandale road, which today is called Building 16. This building differs in that it is framed with wood.

Stills at Hangar 17