MISCELLANEOUS SURVEY AIRCRAFT

 

The aircraft on this page are definitely not Adastra aircraft but they deserve a mention somewhere. The requirements for inclusion on this page are that the aircraft must have been used in Australia and its territories for photographic and/or aeromagnetic survey operations. For the purposes of clarification, the list may even include a few aircraft that appeared to be survey aircraft but which never actually completed the deed. Generally speaking, we will not seek to record every modern light single or twin used on survey operations on this page unless the available information is compelling. There will be no attempt to record the full history of these aircraft. For a basic listing of all aircraft known to have conducted aerial survey operations in Australia click here.

 

Anson VH-RAS Robbys

In 1951, Robbys of Parafield, South Australia won a five-year aerial photography contract from the South Australian Government and for this purpose they acquired three Ansons. Two of these aircraft VH-RAS (ex W1532) and VH-RAU (ex DJ322) were placed in service while the third VH-BJN (ex EG425) was used as a spares source. VH-RAS soldiered on until 1957 when DC-3 VH-DAS became available to service further S.A. Lands Department contracts. VH-RAU was withdrawn from service in 1954. With the official grounding of all wooden winged Ansons in Australia from 1962, the three Robbys aeroplanes met the same fate as most Ansons and were broken up.

Anson VH-RAU Robbys

In 1951, Robbys of Parafield, South Australia won a five-year aerial photography contract from the South Australian Government and for this purpose they acquired three Ansons. Two of these aircraft VH-RAS (ex W1532) and VH-RAU (ex DJ322) were placed in service while the third VH-BJN (ex EG425) was used as a spares source. Anson VH-RAU was withdrawn from service in 1954 and VH-RAS soldiered on until 1957 when DC-3 VH-DAS became available to service further S.A. Lands Department contracts. With the official grounding of all wooden winged Ansons in Australia from 1962, the three Robbys aeroplanes met the same fate as most Ansons and were broken up.

Anson VH-FIC Air Surveys Australia

Avro Anson VH-FIC (ex AW658) of Air Surveys Australia was photographed at Moorabbin in May 1963. By this time the aircraft was withdrawn from service along with all other Australian wooden winged Ansons which were officially grounded on 30 June 1962.

Anson C.19 VM374

This Anson (along with VM375) had been based at Mallala, South Australia to support operations at the Woomera Rocket Range. While still on charge to the RAAF, VM374 was used on survey flights looking for uranium. The flights were navigated by Flying Officer Mike Wood who later joined Adastra. The crew included two civilians from the Mines Department. VM374 was landed wheels up after an engine failure at low altitude while on a uranium survey flight near Port Lincoln on 15 December 1953. The aircraft was written off but there were no injuries to the crew.

Anson C.19 VM375

This Anson (along with VM374) had been based at Mallala, South Australia to support operations at the Woomera Rocket Range. Following the crash of VM374, uranium survey flights resumed with VM375 which was flown by Pilot Officer Roy Scaife. The scintillometer was operated by Maurie Miller, a civilian who later joined Adastra.

Beech C18S VH-KFD Brown & Dureau

Built for the USAAF in 1945 as a C-45F (c/n 8468), the aircraft was not delivered but converted for civil use as a C18S. The aircraft was registered in the Philippines as PI-C80, Hong Kong as VR-HED and in the UK as G-ALJJ. The aircraft was sold to Brown & Dureau of Melbourne and registered VH-KFD on 5 May 1952. The registration derives from the initials of Brown & Dureau's Managing Director, Keith F. Dureau. By September 1952, the aircraft had been converted for aerial photography. Brown & Dureau operated the aircraft until 21 November 1955 when it was sold to Connellan Airways of Alice Springs. What remained of the airframe was burned for fire training at Alice Springs in 1974.

Cessna 180B VH-GEO Bureau of Mineral Resources

Cessna 180 VH-GEO (c/n 50554) of the Bureau of Mineral Resources was photographed at Moorabbin, Victoria on 28 January 1965. Note the belly mounted cradle for a towed bird.

Douglas A-26 Invader N4000K Aero Service Corp

Aero Service Corp of Manila based Douglas A-26B Invader N4000K (c/n 28041) at Darwin in 1969 for a mapping contract of Irian Jaya. The Invader was known to Aero Service personnel as "November 400 Okay". The aircraft was badly damaged on 4 July 1972 when it landed at Manila, Philippines with the right main gear retracted. On 25 September 1972, Aero Service Corp in Manila wrote to the FAA asking that the aircraft be removed from the register as it was "damaged beyond repair and has been scrapped". This casts doubt on references which show that N4000K was abandoned at Dili, Portuguese Timor in 1975. Thanks to Carl Winnefeld for this update (09AUG15).

Catalina VH-EXG Executive Air Services

Built in Canada as a Canso A (c/n CV-369) this aircraft was later converted to a Super Cat with more powerful Wright engines. It arrived at Essendon, Vic as N609FF on 27 June 1972 and was re-registered VH-EXG on 30 August 1972. The aircraft was operated on aeromagnetic surveys by Executive Air Services on behalf of Terra Surveys Ltd (Geoterrex) of Ottawa. It was photographed at Brisbane, Eagle Farm on 18 June 1974. Its last flight was on 10 December 1987. The aircraft has since been restored to military configuration and is now on display at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook.

Catalina VH-UMS Selco Exploration

Built in the USA for the US Navy as a PBY-5A Catalina (c/n 1649) this aircraft was later converted in Canada to a Super Canso. It was equipped for aeromagnetic survey work for Selco Exploration Company of Toronto, Canada. It arrived in Australia as CF-JMS on 11 April 1964. The aircraft was placed on the Australian register as VH-UMS on 24 April 1964 and commenced operations under the name Australian Selection Ltd. Surveys were conducted at Mount Isa Qld, Port Pirie S.A., Leigh Creek S.A., Nyngan NSW as well as in Western Australia. While based in Australia, it was serviced by Flight Facilities at Mascot, Sydney. The aircraft was struck off the Australian register on 7 October 1964 and reverted to CF-JMS. The Catalina departed from Sydney on 15 November 1964 on return to Canada. At last report (2000) the aircraft was with the Weeks Air Museum in Florida, USA as N287.

B-17G F-BEEA Institut Geographique National

The Institut Geographique National (IGN) operated a large fleet of B-17s on survey work from their base at Creil in France. B-17G F-BEEA (c/n 8552) was photographed at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on 15 July 1967. The aircraft was sighted earlier in Port Moresby on 22 June 1967. During June 1989 the aircraft was based in the UK for the filming of the movie Memphis Belle. During the filming, F-BEEA was destroyed by fire following a take-off crash at RAF Binbrook on 25 July 1989.

Lockheed 12A VH-ASV Air Surveys Australia

Although clearly marked "Air Surveys Australia" it is believed that the aircraft was never actually converted for survey work. The aircraft was with this operator only briefly, from 1963 to 1965 and it is likely that it was used mostly for general freight work for associate company Flinders Island Airlines. The aeroplane is still flying under its original registration VH-ABH with Ross Smith of Rolleston, Queensland.

DC-3 G-AMYW Hunting Surveys

DC-3 G-AMYW (c/n 33020) was registered to Hunting Aerosurvey Ltd of the UK on 12 August 1953. It was photographed at Darwin in 1965 when it was operating in conjunction with Adastra's Hudson VH-AGE. G-AMYW was damaged beyond repair in an accident in Saudi Arabia on 8 April 1967.

DC-3 VH-MJR Aero Service Limited

Formerly NC9032H with Aero Service Corp of Philadelphia, this DC-3 (an ex USN R4D-4 c/n 6353) operated briefly in Australia as N9032H but was re-registered VH-MJR on 18 August 1961 for survey operations in Australia under the name Aero Service Limited. It was photographed at Mascot, Sydney in 1965 with Adastra's Hangar 13 in the background at left. VH-MJR was sold to Mac.Robertson Miller Airlines and re-registered VH-MMT on 8 June 1965. MMA sold the aircraft in Indonesia in 1969 and it is believed to have ended its days there.

Noorduyn Norseman VH-GSG Air Research Pty Ltd

Built as a UC-64A (c/n 269) this Norseman entered service with the RAAF as A71-12 in 1944. Post-war it was sold to Silver City Airways of Broken Hill as VH-BHG and used in the logistical support of mining operations. In 1951 ownership changed to Zinc Corp who two years later sold the aeroplane to Gibbes Sepik Airways of PNG. While with this operator, the registration was changed to VH-GSB, then VH-RHG, then finally to VH-GSG. After a crash while being used as a crop duster, the aircraft was sold to Skyservice Aviation of Camden and in 1971, leased to Air Research of Sydney for aerial mineral survey. VH-GSG served with Air Research until late 1971 after which it was exported to Canada in 1973 and destroyed in a crash in 1978.

Caravelle N1001U Aero Service

Caravelle 6R N1001U (c/n 86) was the first of a fleet of twenty ordered by United Airlines. It was accepted by United in May 1961 and named Ville de Toulouse. United sold the aeroplane in 1971 at which time it was converted for aerial survey work with a multi-spectral camera and side-looking radar. The aircraft was operated by Aero Service of Houston, Texas on behalf of Goodyear Aerospace, Litton Industries and Western Geophysical. During 1971-73 the aircraft was leased in Brazil as PT-DUW mapping the route of the Trans-Amazon Highway. The Caravelle also operated from Mount Isa, Qld and in PNG. This aircraft is preserved at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.

Cessna 210N VH-ZIO NearMap
21st Century Bookend

This Cessna 210N VH-ZIO (c/n21064644) is one of a pair used by NearMap to produce their online digital maps. The other aircraft, also a Cessna 210, is registered VH-ZID. Imagine what the pioneers of aerial survey would think of this technology, let alone the ability to access it on a thing called the Internet.

(I know I said no lighties but this one gets a guernsey because it demonstrates how far aerial survey has come, and no, I will not be adding an image of a satellite - or a drone!)


All images are linked to larger versions.
 

Thanks to the following contributors

Tony Arbon
Greg Banfield
Barrie Colledge
Rick Geary
Geoff Goodall
John Hopton
Bruce Hoy
David Legg
Roger McDonald
D.J. Molesworth
Doug Morrison
Henry W. Pryor
Mick Raftery
John M. Smith
Richard Vandervord
Allan Walker
Carl Winnefeld

 

Issue
Date
Remarks
6
09AUG15
Amended the fate of A-26 N4000K. Thanks to Carl Winnefeld.
5
30JUL14
Added Beech C18S VH-KFD.
4
12JAN13
Added a brief history of Norseman VH-GSG thanks to Geoff Goodall.
3
06JAN13
Added Norseman VH-GSG.
2
04JAN13
Created individual entries for Ansons VM374 and VM375.
1
02JAN13
Original issue.