Charleville Flight Service Unit - 1987

The photos on this page show Charleville Flight Service Unit (FSU) as it was in 1987.

The image above was taken from a Robinson R22 helicopter above taxiway D, leading to the Royal Flying Doctor Service hangar, and looks north-west out on to the movement area. To the left is a Power House and Aeronautical Beacon (rotating beacon) with the FSU building immediately to the right. A radio antenna tower stands behind the FSU and a Satellite Ground Station is located on the far right of the complex. Click here to see a 2001 view from the other side.

The FSU closed down in the second quarter of 1991 and it was the introduction of satellite technology which made that possible. Before satellites, radio operators had to be located where the radio equipment was. The introduction of satellite communications in the late 1980s made it possible to remote communications back to Flight Service Centres in the capital cities.

The image below shows Flight Service Officer Meg Stalley (Owen) working the FS 1 position in December 1987. The console is quite modern, being one of the last generation of FS consoles. According to former FSO Ken Owen, "We had VHF and HF out there. The HF receivers were on airport right next to the FSU and the HF tansmitters were across the road from the entrance to the airport in the NDB paddock. Initially we only had one VHF outlet at the airport. Once they put in the satellite ground station we had two more VHF outlets at Jackson and Birdsville. (As a result we suddenly heard callsigns on the Area VHFs out there that we'd never heard before & some we never heard from again after we acknowledged their broadcasts!) The airspaces was split into two sectors - FS 1 was basically the eastern half, including the Charleville AFIZ, and FS 2 was the western half. We generally ran them combined til about mid morning when we'd open FS 2 to handle the oil field traffic going into Jackson and Moomba (and during the Birdsville race week)."


The image below shows the briefing desk in the FSU with FSO David Burrage doing some work. David later converted to Air Traffic Control and worked in Cairns. The aerodrome photo and wall map were typical of the briefing facilities available to pilots as well as, of course, face to face discussion with the FS Briefing Officer.



Below is the Charleville OIC's Toyota Corona outside one of the DCA residences on Edward St. Ken Owen recalls, "The OIC was the FS boss at that time. OIC was Barry Brazier when Meg and I arrived in 1985 and then Alan Jones when Barry went back to Rocky. I did a couple of stints as acting OIC hence the photo of the company car outside our house."

As well as the FS staff, at that time the airport had two radio technicians, two electrical technicians, two mechanics, two groundsmen, a storeman and an admin assistant. Together, they were responsible for the maintenance of the FSU equipment, the aerodrome and local navigation aids.

Most Departmental vehicles were yellow for high visibility with white roofs to keep temperatures down - known colloquially as 'Golden Holdens'. Note also the Department of Aviation sticker on the door.



(Photos: Ken Owen)

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