Edward John Connellan and Connellan Airways – Fact sheet 155
Edward John Connellan (1912–83)
Edward John Connellan was born in Melbourne in 1912. He began his working life as a teacher, but his real interests were aviation and the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory.
Having obtained his pilot's licence in 1936 and with the financial backing of friends, Connellan was able to undertake two aerial surveys of the Territory in 1938 in order to assess the potential role of aviation in the Territory's development. The results urged him to establish the service that in time became known as Connellan Airways. He was a keen believer in the benefits aviation could bring to the Territory.
From the 1940s Connellan and his family lived in Alice Springs. They established a small home called Araluen west of the town and also developed a cattle station on the property Narwietooma, north-east of the town.
Connellan died in 1983 and is buried in the memorial cemetery at Alice Springs. Adjacent to the cemetery is a museum devoted to Connellan and his airline.
In 1939 Connellan persuaded the Commonwealth Government to grant him a subsidy to operate a mail service between Alice Springs and Wyndham, Western Australia and subsequently founded an air transport company based in Alice Springs. The company, initially known as Survey and Inland Transport, became Connellan Airways in 1943 and Connair from 1970. It flew routes throughout the Territory and the north of Western Australia and provided support for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Connair fell into financial difficulty and was bought out by East-West airlines in 1980, but went into liquidation shortly after.
Records relating to E J Connellan and the operations of Connellan Airways are held by the National Archives' offices in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin. A selection of items held is included in the table below.