'Betsy' II the Mobile VOR - c.1970s

The 1960 DCA Short Range Navigational Aid Plan called for 28 VORs to be installed over a six-year period throughout Qld, NSW and Vic. A peculiarity of VOR is that the signal can be adversely affected when the beacon is installed in an area of rugged terrain. Accordingly, DCA created 'Betsy', a mobile truck-mounted VOR. Betsy was later replaced by ‘Betsy II’, seen here, a VOR mounted on a five-ton Bedford van with Commonwealth registration ZAA-625. Betsy could be positioned at likely VOR sites and moved around until the optimum position was found. The first sites to be tested were at Eildon Weir, Vic, and Betsy later moved to many sites througout Australia.

Technical Officer Graham Stephenson recalled “Betsy was brute to drive, and often I actually set up the antenna on the roof by myself (forget OH&S) - just use brute strength. On the trip back down from Round Mountain, driving back down from Dorrigo, I was passed by a motorist who warned me that the brakes appeared to be on fire. Consequently I changed down to 1st gear and really went really slowly, however this caused the exhaust manifold gasket to blow, and as the engine was in the front cabin so to speak, the noise and exhaust fumes caused me to drive all the way back to Coffs Harbour with my head out the window. When I got to the airport and drove into the workshop compound, I forgot about the height of Betsy and took out the mains power cables from the admin building across to the workshop. Betsy was repaired later and driven back to Essendon by a Commonwealth driver.”

The photo above shows ‘Betsy the mobile VOR’ at the Round Mountain c.1973. The shot below shows Betsy alongside a fixed AME T52 VOR at an unknown location.



Read more about the exciting life of Betsy - download this story from DCA News, April-May 1973 - click on the image at right >

This is a 1.73 MB .pdf file!

download the Betsy story - click here

(Photos: Top-Graham Stephenson; Bottom-CAHS collection)

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