The Ansett Short Sandringham flying boat used to operate from Sydney to Lord Howe Island. These were in service all the way through to 1974 and happily one of them is preserved today.

You might think it would be somewhere down under, but it’s not. It is located at the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton in England. I recently had a chance to visit and here’s what it’s like inside.

Ansett Short Sandringham

This particular flying boat was built in 1943 and first operated for Tasman Empire Airways Limited, or TEAL from 1947. Today you’d know that airline as Air New Zealand by the way. Next, Ansett Flying Boat Services took the aircraft in 1954, registered it as VH-BRC and named it Beachcomber.

It was almost lost twice, once in a taxiing incident at Rose Bay in Sydney in 1954 and it ran aground in 1974. What is remarkable about the latter incident is that it was patched up, flown back to base and repaired before flying again for less than two weeks before being sold!

The Cockpit

At Solent Sky Museum in Southampton, you can visit the cockpit of the Ansett Short Sandringham. It is blocked off and you need a staff member to take you up, as the ladder is somewhat precarious.

Once upstairs, you sit in the pilots seat and are told all about the controls. It’s certainly from another era as everything is rather manual, as you would expect!

Passenger Cabin

Seats are arranged with three seats on one side and one seat on the opposite side. They also face each other, which is sort of reminiscent of a railway carriage to one extent or another.

While it’s all rather utilitarian, that’s probably be to expected. It would be interesting to fill it up with people and see what the vibe is like, but alas one doesn’t do that in a museum.

Galley and Safety

Upstairs is also where the galley is located. You’re not able to go into it as it’s roped off, but you can definitely see it quite well. Again, quite old fashioned yet it does have its own window for the crew, which is nice.

There are a couple of safety notices about, none of this in the seat pocket in front of you business. These are attached to the plane, like they are on Ryanair!

Overall Thoughts

The Ansett Short Sandringham is an interesting beast. Since it went on to fly for Antilles Air Boats, I wonder how much the interior was changed, if any. There is a great colour film about the Ansett Flying Boat Services here which is worth seeing.

For those wanting to see the full history of the Ansett Flying Boats, you can go here. Each aircraft record contains many pictures, especially the one about Beachcomber, VH-BRC.

Did you ever fly on an Ansett flying boat or any other flying boat? What do you think of this one in the museum? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by R. N. Smith via