Rose Bay Flying Boat Base - c.1950

The terminal at Sydney/Rose Bay flying boat base photographed in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The Control Office was located upstairs while passengers were processed on the lower level. Since the terminal was built in 1938 the front verandah area has been built in and the jetty provided with a covered walkway.

The touristy signpost remains, just visible to the right in the photo, and in the background is the long-completed Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) hangar.

Gordon Heaslip, former Flight Service Superintendent, worked as an Aeradio Operator at Rose Bay in the early 1950s. Although now (c.1998) suffering from Parkinsons Disease and not always intelligible, he recently recorded some impressions of his time there:

There were five Aeradio staff: 2 teletype ‘girls’; 2 point-to-point positions (Auckland-Fiji-Hawaii and Darwin-Singapore); and 1 Air/Ground position. There were also three Shift Supervisors. The station operated 24 hours of every day. There were also three ATC staff but he "does not know what they did". All HF communications (in morse) were through the Llandilo Station and comprised traffic, airline reservations and loadings, and telegrams to and from Lord Howe Island.

Thirty minutes before a flight (either departure or arrival) an Aeradio Operator would go out with the boat-hand to lay the flare path, and communicate with the aircraft (there were a number of possible paths, depending on winds). Saturdays were a problem as there were many yachts sailing in the area. On one occasion, after making 3 or 4 attempts but having to abort the approach, the pilot flew low over the yachts and blew them over!

The Rose Bay flying boat base was closed in 1977.

(Photo: CAHS collection)


Click here to see a comparable view of the terminal building in 1939

Click here to see photos of Short S23 Empire Flying Boat G-AETX at Rose Bay in 1939

Click here to see an aerial photo of the Rose Bay flying boat base, c.1942-43

Click here to see the Control Launch at Rose Bay - 1969

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