On the aviation front, 1953 also witnessed the first flights at Avalon
(Victoria) of two Australian-built aircraft; the "Canberra" jet bomber
and the "Avon-Sabre" jet fighter. It was during a test flight of the
Sabre, on 14 August, that the sound barrier was broken for the first time in the
Southern Hemisphere. Test pilot W.H. Scott (later a DCA pilot) achieved the distinction
as he dived the plane from 42,000 feet to 20,000 feet. Two "Canberra"
bombers were also to make headlines later in the year during the London to Christchurch
What happened in the field of Australian civil aviation fifty years ago, and in
particular, what was DCAs contribution?
Thirteen member States were represented when
the second South East Asia and South Pacific Regional air navigation meeting,
held at Melbourne University in January 1953. A major task of the conference was
to formulate a long-term plan for the aeronautical fixed telecommunications network.
Other recommendations included:
aircraft to be available at Durban and Perth for search and rescue operations
from Maritius and Cocos Island.
High intensity approach lighting recommended
for seven airports in the region: at Essendon and Mascot in Australia, Tokio,
Bombay, Calcutta, Karachi and Aukland.
Interim procedures for reporting
weather observations by high-altitude aircraft should be developed. A schedule
was prepared for a network of 600 weather stations.
All navigation aids
should be operated on 24-hour basis.
Australia airspeed record
The rush to bring pictures and films of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II to
Australia was responsible for the lowering of the London Sydney air record
by three hours and two minutes. A Qantas Empire Airways "Constellation"
made the flight to Sydney in 53 hours 28 minutes
landing lights at Essendon Airport
A new high intensity approach
lighting system at Essendon Airport was commissioned for use by airlines on 4th
July, 1953. Three airport lighting systems the British Calvert Cross Bar
System, the French Approach Light System and the United States Slope-line Approach
Light System were first evaluated. It was decided that the Calvert
system was best suited to Australian conditions. The Essendon installation
was to be the prototype from which to gain operational experience, and to decide
on the number of systems to be installed at other major airports. The Calvert
system was capable of landing aircraft in object visibility of 250 yards by day
and 110 yards by night.
In accordance with recently accepted practice, major
Australian airports were renamed after the capital cities, or the major towns
adjacent to them. The only exception was Sydneys Kingsford Smith Airport.
Fuel Terminal at Nadi
A new 1.7 million gallon bulk jet and general
aviation fuel terminal was opened at Vude Point, Nadi, for Fijis international
airport. Australia was involved in two ways; the Standard-Vacuum Oil Refinery
at Altona (near Melbourne), produced the first consignment of bulk jet fuel for
export. The other was the building by Swanson Brothers Pty Ltd of a twin-screw
barge with a capacity of 20,000 gallons, for service between the new terminal
and the waterside depot.
on Civil Aviation Estimates
Australian domestic airlines were carrying
more passengers per head of population than the airlines in any other country
of the world, Civil Aviation Minister Anthony told the Federal Parliament during
the debate on civil aviation estimates totalling £A10,850,000.
On 9 October, Australians opened their morning papers to read
that the London to Christchurch (NZ) air race was in progress and that five Canberra
jet bombers were streaking their way across the world in an effort to make the
journey in twenty-four hours. Interest had been building up for weeks in Australia,
for the aircraft were to fly over Australian controlled airspace, and four of
them eventually touched down at the Australian airport on Cocos Island
where W/Cdr. Cuming blew a tyre and left S/Ldr. Raw to carry Australias
hopes to the finishing line. Click here to see a photo of the BEA
Viscount at Essendon.
information centre was set up in the basement of Henty House DCAs
Head Office to provide up-to-date progress reports to the press and radio.
A departmental navigation officer worked with representatives of the competing
organisations to obtain the latest information quickly and accurately. The Australian
Broadcasting Commission provided a direct line to their Mont Park short wave station
and fed race broadcasts from other parts of the world to the Melbourne Information
Centre. The winners were: Speed Section Canberra PR.3 in 23 hrs 51 minutes;
Handicap Section Douglas DC-6A in 37 hrs 30 minutes.