Fifty Years Ago - 1952

As we ponder the year ahead, it is timely to look back on some of the issues which concerned Australian civil aviation, in particular DCA, 50 years ago. The source of these snippets is "Interavia Notes", prepared by DCA Public Relations officer, Doug Gillison.

In June 1952, DCA’s top echelon were:
Minister: The Hon. H.L. Anthony
Director-General: Air Marshal R. Williams, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O.
Assistant Director-General (Administrative): E.C. Johnston, D.F.C.
Assistant Director-General: (Technical) C.S. Wiggins, C.B.E.
Assistant Director-General (Personnel and Establishments): D.G. Anderson.

Overseas Representatives were:
Australian Council Member, ICAO: Dr K.N.E. Bradfield.
Civil Air Attache, Washington: F.E. Parker
Civil Aviation Liaison Officer, London: E.V. Read, A.F.C.

Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney, handled more traffic in 1951, it is claimed, than any other British Commonwealth or European airport – 52,118 movements or a daily average of 143 flights. Passenger numbers were 852,782 domestic and 57,610 international – a daily average of 2,497.

A Griffith (NSW) grazier built a full-scale mock-up of a freight aircraft on his property to train 100 stud sheep to become air-minded. The interior was fitted with pens, each with its own feed and water container and, when called, the sheep enter their own pens and remain there all day. A few months later a BOAC 'York' aircraft with similar pens, transported the sheep to Israel as a gift from the Australian government to form a nucleus stud for development of local flocks.

The Far East and Pacific Office of ICAO (in Melbourne) announced that the organisation would assist the Government of Indonesia in organising and operating a national aviation college, near Jakarta, to train Indonesian nationals as air and ground crews to operate airline services.

Lae Airport Manager Tom Drury, flying as a passenger in a DCA DH 'Drover' (VH-DHA) saved the lives of the pilot, Captain C.R. (Clarrie) Hibbert (Acting Regional Director of Papua-New Guinea), and another passenger following a freak accident. Consequently, Hibbert was awarded the George Medal, and Drury a Civil Commendation for Valuable Services.

Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney, is being enlarged to include the first helicopter airfield in the Commonwealth. There is a prospect that helicopters will eventually be used to transport mail and passengers between the airport and the city.

The Australian Airline Pilots’ Association has asked various authorities for their ruling on the maximum age for airline pilots in regular services. Answers include: TAA – 45 years; ANA – 50 years; QEA and BCPA – non-committal. AAPA Secretary says the average pilot flies about 1,000 hours a year and by the time he reaches 45 has logged about 25,000 hours.

Senior DCA appointments and transfers during the year included: J.W. Stone AFC posted to Montreal to replace Dr K.N.E. Bradfield as Australian Representative on the Council of ICAO; C.A.J. Lum, formerly Regional Director in South Australia has replaced Mr Stone as Acting Superintendent of Flying Operations. D.S. Graham has been appointed Acting Regional Director, South Australia; R.W.S. Gross as Regional Director (provisional) in the Northern Territory; R.M. Seymour as Superintendent of Air Traffic Control; J.M. Chapman as Senior Aeronautical Engineer (provisional), and F.M. Hilgendorf as Acting Supervising Airport Engineer.

DCA’s chain of 30 four-course Visual-Aural Radio Ranges (VAR’s) [the fore-runner of today’s VOR], each valued at £45,000 ($900,000 today) which have been installed on the Melbourne – Perth, Adelaide – Darwin, Melbourne – Cairns and Melbourne – Launceston – Hobart routes, are due to come into operation on January 1st 1953. Though at current rates the equipment would cost £1,350,000 ($27M) much of the electronic equipment was obtained by the Commonwealth Government from dollar sources under the Lend-Lease agreement, thus substantially reducing the capital outlay.

TAA has established the first regular air service between the Australian mainland and lonely Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The settlement on the island was threatened with having to leave owing to shortages of water and food. A 'Drover' aircraft now ensures essential supplies and regular visits by a flying doctor.

In September, Qantas Empire Airways inaugurated the first regular air service between Australia and South Africa. [Click here to see an air mail cover flown on the inaugural service.]

All major airlines have objected to the Air Navigation Order insisting that all new passenger aircraft imported into Australia be fitted with backward-facing passenger seats. Departmental representatives conferred on the question on 27th May and as a result postponement of the order until its effect on orders for aircraft already placed by Australian airlines has been studied. So far no airliner in or near the production stage incorporates backward-facing seats in design specification.

Senior pilots from the principal Australian domestic airlines participated in special flying tests conducted by DCA with the new mobile ILS installation at Canberra Airport. The Director-General said that the terrain in the vicinity of Canberra called for special measures, and the new instrument let-down procedures enabled pilots to land in conditions of bad weather.

Members of Federal Parliament took time off recently to consider greedy airline passengers. Labor member Clyde Cameron asked Civil Aviation Minister Anthony whether rationalisation of TAA and ANA services meant that TAA had been directed to
a) Restrict passengers to one piece of barley sugar each at the beginning and end of each trip
b) Charge sixpence for each cup of coffee, previously supplied free at air terminals
c) Stop poultry lunches, free newspapers, fruit juice with meals and free route maps.
The Minister retorted that if some passengers required more barley sugar to chew he would suggest to TAA that in certain circumstances "toffee apples" might be provided.

Back to the main General Organisational History index

Back to the main Items of General Interest index

If this page appears without a menu bar at top and left, click here