end of the war Adastra Aerial Surveys was granted a contract to
photograph and map the state of Victoria at a scale of 10 chains
to the inch (see photo 1.). Condition
of the contract was that Adastra could request from the R.A.A.F.
any type of aircraft they thought appropriate to act as a camera
platform to carry out this task. The Anson was chosen, and the
decision coincided with the visit to Australia of the famous Lancaster
bomber "G for George". Qantas took the opportunity to
evaluate the Lancaster and some time later used Lancastrians on
the London Mascot mail service.
I believe that Adastra's Chief Engineer Eric Haynes, flew from
Mascot to Victoria in G for George to inspect and take delivery
of their first Anson from Bairnsdale early in 1945. Is it a coincidence
that this aircraft was registered VH-AGG? My first contact with
AGG was when I joined Adastra's staff as a Field Engineer in June
1945 to find that its Certificate of Airworthiness was well under
way. To take the Anson into the field I required endorsements
on both the airframe and Cheetah IX engines, so in the August
examination I sat a two and a half hour paper on each of these
subjects, thus becoming the first LAME in Australia to sit the
written examinations. Eric Haynes was required only to do an oral
The C. of A. was granted and VH-AGG started her crew training
and camera tests, culminating in October 1945 when Joe Linfoot
(Pilot) John Howard (Nav. Photographer) and Tom Carpenter (Field
Engineer) (see photo 2.)
departed Mascot for Victoria, not to see Sydney again for over
10 months. Another first came when we discovered that the R.A.A.F.
had in theory solved the problem of exhaust valves overheating
in Ansons. I was given permission to read their data at R.A.A.F.
Headquarters Victoria Barracks, St. Kilda Road, and it suggested
that valve guide temperatures could be lowered by more than 10
degrees by changing the standard engine cowlings for Oxford type
cowlings. The R.A.A.F. even had the modification sets available
at Laverton but had not fitted them. Thus I became the first LAME
in Australia to fit Oxford type cowlings to VH-AGG. In about March
of 1946 Adastra's second Anson VH-AGO was sent to Ballarat to
become my second conversion (see photo
On our return to Mascot in about September 1946 I was given the
task of compiling a list of spare parts required to service seven
Ansons for seven years - locate, collect and transport them to
Mascot. Ballarat and Point Cook had everything I required so the
task was easy.
How many people have spun an Australian Civil Registered Anson?
Perhaps I can claim another first. On the 20th March 1948 while
flying at 13,300 feet in VH-AVT on aerial photography, a wrist
pin failed and jammed the crank shaft of the starboard engine
- subsequent examination found that the pistons, master rod, articulating
rods etc., were in small pieces and that the crank shaft, at the
propeller boss, had about a 3/8
inch shear or twist in it (see photo
4). All of the components attached to the crank shaft were
gone, leaving only the propeller and the balance weights (with
nothing to balance) - the result was a shocking vibration and
twisting motion of the starboard wing. Natural reaction, reduce
speed and try to reduce the shocking noise and vibration. We can
only assume that the starboard wing stalled 10-20 knots before
the port wing. We were flicked inverted, but we don't have any
clear thoughts as to what took place until Joe Linfoot somehow
regained control at about 10,000 feet. We have talked about it
a good deal but nothing is very clear - however the next 27 minutes
will live with me till the very end. We were based at Benalla
but Mangalore appeared closer - could we get there? Please let
the engine fall off before the wing! The way the metal tank covers
were twisting on the top surface of the wing, I was betting on
losing the wing! At last over Mangalore at about 2,000 feet -
do we dare lower the undercarriage? Yes - but at what speed may
the wing stall again? Do we use Flap? - No way! So a rather high
speed landing was made and as the aircraft slowed, it was allowed
to leave the runway and come to a stop on the grass. It may seem
strange, but as all three of us put our feet on Mother Earth,
our legs buckled and that is how the groundsman found us - three
grown men lying on the grass, laughing hysterically. John Howard
was a non drinker, but that afternoon in the Avernell Hotel, we
all consumed our fair share of beer.
As cameras and requirements changed, the work of Adastra's Ansons
was superseded by their Lockheed Hudsons, which had the ability
to provide a camera platform above 30,000 feet. My last flight
in AGG was with Joe Linfoot from Mascot to Wallace Island 9th
October '52 (but it was no longer an Anson but Adastra's first
Hudson). My last flight in an Anson, and as a member of Adastra's
staff was the next day, a flight from Wallace Island to Mascot
in VH-AGO flown by Bob Bell.
Having boasted about several "firsts" I now thank God
for a "last". Of the three members of the Adastra crew
to fly the first Avro Anson on the Civil Register, I am the last
one alive. Joe Linfoot lost his life in a Hudson on Horn Island,
and John Howard lost his life in a Pilatus Porter at Cooma.
6th December, 1995.
= Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.
Mk I W4783 "G for George" arrived at RAAF Amberley
on 8th November 1942. It's last flight was to Canberra on
24th September 1945. The aircraft is now displayed in the
Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
1 and 4 which were unavailable at the time of writing (25FEB05)
were added on 28AUG05.
identity of the Anson which suffered the engine failure described
in para 5 was not stated previously and therefore it could
have been assumed that it was VH-AGG. It later emerged that
the Anson involved was VH-AVT. This page was amended accordingly
on 7th May 2005.