Flood at Maylands - 1926

Conditions were often difficult in the early days! This photo, taken in 1926 shows Western Australian Airways original hangar at Perth/Maylands aerodrome with one of WAA's Bristol Tourers half under water. Opened in 1924, Maylands was located on a bend of the Swan River about four miles from Perth GPO. The Swan was was prone to flood and throughout its life Maylands became boggy in winter. A levee bank and pumping station were installed to control flooding, however the state of Maylands was a regular source of friction between WAA and the CAB.

Norman Brearley, Managing Director of WAA wrote* "Only once did water compel W.A.Airways to move from Maylands, and then only briefly. In 1926 the Swan River was in record flood. We watched the levee crumble and the river water gush across the ground. The hangar floor was soon submerged. We all stamped about in the water, hauling engines and tools and materials on to benches and platforms. Luckily most of the planes were out on the mail route. Those in the hangar had their tails lifted high, leaving only their undercarriages to stand in the water.

"By nightfall the river bank had completely collapsed and water was knee high over the ground and still rising. The mail service could not be interrupted, so we hired a farmer's paddock eighteen miles away and hastily turned it into a landing ground. Pilots in the north were notified by telegraph and briefed on the location of the new field, and a smoke fire was kept burning to guide them in. This temporary ground was used for several weeks until Maylands again became serviceable."

Maylands finally closed in June 1963 and operations switched to Guildford or Jandakot.

Click here to see WAA's later hangar at Maylands

Click here to see aerial photos of Maylands just before it closed

*Sir Norman Brearley, Australian Aviator, Seal Books 1974.

(Photo: WAA/CAHS collection)

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