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Tony,

 

Has TOSG got a register of Australian Thruster owners. i.e. Aircraft type and owner location/address?

 

Mike

 

 

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Hi Mike,

 

No I am afraid not and no such thing could exist. I will explain but it is complicated.

 

As a 'guesstimate' there are probably about 600 still around in over 55 different types or marks. Some of these are reasonably fine differences (or perhaps with only one example ie Bilby, Flying Fox, Sprint, Flash, T84A Prototype, T100, 84 TPT Prototype etc).

 

Other differences can be quite marked. The 'unknowing' owner can be confident they have a 'Thruster 84' and be looking for new skins - but which one do they have? There were seven different types/models (some being two seaters) built in 1984/85 and each has skins unique to itself!

 

Similarly, you can be absolutely sure you have a TST as you have the factory manual for it and it is written on the rego data. But which one? There were three and all were different. Makes getting parts something of a nightmare for both owner and supplier!

 

Even the people who built them had forgotten some they had built. I was challenged by some Thruster ex senior management on my identification of what TOSG has designated the T84 (two models) - they said it had never existed! So I sent them a photo of one and asked them "then what is this"?

 

TOSG tackled this with its Type Identification programme and the Historical Research efforts running in parallel. This was a painful four or five years and the task will probably never really be finished. Only a few months ago I found a 10th Glasshouse (it was at NatFly and looks nothing like a Glasshouse now) when I was convinced only 9 had been built. I am probably now as close as I am likely to get though as makes no difference in practical terms of sourcing parts. Sadly I am the only person in the world who can look at any Thruster (or a photo of one) and tell you exactly what it is in a few seconds. I can do something similar over the phone but have to ask some seemingly strange questions!

 

So the first hiccup on the list you would like is that a very high proportion of owners do not know what they have (and most frankly do not care - until they want something for it!).

 

This is compounded by the pre ANO 95.25 factory production records being totally lost and neither CASA or AUF keeping the ANO 95.25 compliance records of subsequent types.

 

But wait there is more! Factory production aircraft were allegedly produced without any serial at all, an unknown amount went overseas, many aircraft were sold direct to properties and never went near the AUF Register so there is no record of them (one emerged a couple of weeks ago and I am sorting it out for the new owner)! There are also persistent stories of 'Pirate Copy Thrusters' being built - but I tend to think these are fables because I have never found one - and damn I have looked hard enough! The stories probably emerged over that rather clouded period of the 'crop spraying Geminis' in 1985.

 

And then the Evans Head factory apparently had a change of thinking about serial numbers in 1993 (that seems to have been a significant year for Thrusters one way or another). So since then, instead of sticking to the rigid sequencing of serial numbering, we have indications that considerably more Thrusters were built than actually have been (assuming you can read the serial numbers!)

 

Of the (say) potentially 600 they could roughly be divided into thirds: Those that are registered (and these come and go from the Register); those that were once registered and are stored, flying unregistered on properties etc; those that are being flown illegally or are derelict and effectively abandoned.

 

Of those registered currently, AUF/RA-Aus certainly knows where they are and who owns them (although in some cases it does not know exactly, or even nearly, what some of them actually are). But the second big hiccup is RA-Aus’ legal requirement to maintain member confidentiality so they are not about to divulge names and addresses because they cannot!

 

My biggest breakthrough was the kindness of AUF in providing me with a totally de-identified print-out of every Thruster that is, or had been, registered. This included rego nos, serial nos and dates of manufacture and was golden stuff. Without it I would still be in the dark in crucial areas.

 

I only got it because I had enough runs on the board to demonstrate I was doing valid and useful research that was of direct benefit to members! From the listings I was able to identify and decode the three main serial number sequences used and get a very good (but still incomplete) idea of what went on in the critical 1983/84/85 years. I was also able to get some illegal aircraft back into the air legally for their owners (and get some out of the air that were potential time bombs that would have impinged upon all our freedoms if they had hit anybody or anything valuable!

 

TOSG has very incomplete member records. Bear in mind we are not ‘official’! At our peak we have only had 150 members so are nowhere near a good enough sample of who owns what. What I can, and do, do is put people in touch with other Thruster owners close to them, or owners of the same type around the country to help in exchanging viewpoints and technical information.

 

So I am sorry Mike that I cannot be more help. What you want I would dearly love to have – but neither of us can have it, it is actually impossible in the true meaning of the word. Even if such a thing did exist it would be out of date in weeks or at the most months as regos and owners come and go.

 

Aye

 

Tony

 

 

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