Norman Rodoni (?-?)
Norman Rodoni, c.1937.
Click on the image to see the full photograph.
(Photo: Dora Payens/Ron Cuskelly collection)
Prior to becoming a Flight Checking Officer (as Air Traffic Controllers were known in those days), Norm Rodoni had a successful career as a pilot. He worked for Adastra Airways from 1935 to 1941 as a pilot and engineer, eventually becoming Chief Pilot.
In April 1936 Captain Frank Follett and Norman Rodoni of Adastra Airways carried out a survey of the Cobar, NSW district in a British Aircraft Eagle under instruction from the NSW Department of Mines. This was the first occasion that an aircraft had been used in NSW to assist ground parties in mineral surveys.
In June 1938 Adastra shipped a B.A. Eagle VH-UUY from Sydney to Port Moresby on the "Montoro" for a series of survey flights for Papuan Apinaipi Petroleum Co Ltd. Norm Rodoni was the pilot.
In September 1940 while Battle of Britain was reaching a crescendo on the other side of the world, Norm Rodoni, by then Chief Pilot of Adastra, was engaged on vital aerial survey work in Central Australia. His photographer was Peter V Payens and they were using Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD. The following extract from Out of Control in the Centre by John P. Kellow of Connellan Airways describes this episode:
By May 1942, with the Japanese well established in New Guinea, Adastra had been contracted by the Director of Surveys to perform an aerial survey of areas of the north coast of NSW. Norm Rodoni and Peter Payens were once again involved, again using the Waco. Of interest is the fact that liaison was necessary with anti-aircraft batteries to prevent the survey aircraft being shot at! On 19 June, Norm Rodoni flew the Waco from Mascot to Coolangatta to commence the work, but it was not to last long. After only three flights Norm Rodoni was forced to withdraw from the survey work, reporting that he could no longer carry on with flying at high altitude owing to trouble with his eyes.
On 7 July 1942 Norm Rodoni returned to Mascot with the Waco, and subsequently joined DCA as a Flight Checking Officer. In 1944 he was responsible for the invention of the Airways Traffic Computer, or 'Rodoniscope'. This invention halved the number of controllers needed and was more accurate than other, more cumbersome, methods of control. Despite its officially agreed merits it was not until 1950 that he was finally paid £200 by the Public Service Board and a further £250 by the War Inventions Committee.