THE COMPANY

 


The Adastra building at 41-43 Vickers Avenue, Mascot on 11th January 1965.
Photo: Ron Cuskelly

[Click on image for a full screen view]

 

Where it all began. Adastra's first two aircraft, Gipsy Moths VH-UOQ and VH-UOR in front of Hangar 8 at Mascot around the time that Adastra opened for business in August 1930. Photo: Fairfax Archives

[Click on image for a full screen view]

 

The company began as the Adastra Flying School which was established at Mascot, Sydney, Australia on 21st August 1930 by Captain Frank William Follett (1892-1950), his sister Miss Evelyn Mary Follett (1903- ?) and Group Captain Henry Talbot "Bunny" Hammond. The name Adastra is derived from the motto of the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth air forces including the Royal Australian Air Force. The full motto, which dates from 1912, is Per ardua ad astra which translates from the Latin as Through adversity to the stars. As Frank Follett and Bunny Hammond had served in the Australian Flying Corps it was a fitting basis for the name of the new company. Bunny Hammond and Evelyn Follett also served in the RAAF. Hammond had earned his nickname "Bunny" from his attempts to tunnel out of a German POW camp during WW1.

 

Two of Adastra's founders, Miss Evelyn Follett (centre) and Captain Frank Follett (right).
(Photo: Hood Collection SLNSW)


(Click for a larger image with explanatory caption)

 

An early Adastra promotional brochure.
(Source: Roger McDonald Collection)

(Click for larger images of the entire brochure)

 

Adastra Airways Ltd commenced a subsidised passenger and air mail service from Sydney to Bega, NSW on 5th February 1934 using Fox Moth VH-UQU. The service operated twice weekly departing at 0830 and returning at 1630. From the 20th May 1935, Nowra NSW was included as a stop. On 14th April 1936 VH-UQU collided with a D.H. Moth during take-off although the pilot Mr Beverley Shepherd and passengers were not injured. The Fox Moth was subsequently rebuilt. In February 1937 the company imported the Waco YKS6 VH-UYD. In April 1938, the Dragonfly VH-AAD was added to the fleet. During July 1937 the Civil Aviation Board considered withdrawing subsidies. The service ceased on the 24th August 1940 to be taken over by Butler Air Transport Co.

On the 8th December 1934 shark patrols of Sydney's beaches commenced using an aircraft supplied by Adastra Airways Ltd. The aircraft was christened "McWilliams" by the General Manager of radio station 2UW. The aircraft was flown by a 2UW staff member, E.V. Collibee, who would transmit messages to 2UW for relay to the nearest lifesaving club. Radio equipment was temporarily fitted in the forward cockpit and a lifebuoy was carried for dropping to swimmers in difficulty. Although aircraft were sourced from other operators as well, it was an Adastra Moth VH-UOQ which crashed into the sea off Cronulla on 10th February 1935 after engine failure during a lifesaving demonstration.

In November 1935 the Minister for Defence announced that the government would permit the importation of American and German aircraft. Several Australian operators became agents for American manufactureres and included amongst these was Adastra which secured the agency for Waco aircraft.

In April 1936 Captain Frank Follett and Norman Rodoni of Adastra Airways carried out a survey of the Cobar, NSW district in a British Aircraft Eagle under instruction from the NSW Department of Mines. The was the first occasion that an aircraft had been used in NSW to assist ground parties in mineral surveys.

In 1944, Frank Follett formed Adastra Aerial Surveys and began operations with a fleet of Avro Ansons. The first Hudson to join the fleet (VH-AGG named "Frank Follett") was acquired from the famous speedway motorcycle rider and George Medal winner, Lionel Van Praag, who later joined Adastra as a pilot and subsequently became Chief Pilot.

On 31st October 1954, The General Manager of Adastra, H.T. Hammond, announced the formation of Adastra Hunting Geophysics Pty Ltd. The company would commence operations with a Percival Prince owned by the Hunting Geophysics Company of London.


Adastra was purchased by East-West Airlines on 1st April 1973 and its base and aircraft moved to Tamworth. Adastra ceased operations shortly thereafter.

In 1976, Adastra was acquired by Qasco (Queensland Aerial Survey Company Pty Ltd). The following quote appears on the Qasco website:

"Adastra was the first aerial photography company in Australia and had stored negatives of photography exposed as early as the late 1930s. Much of this, as well as the early Qasco photography, has been donated to state mapping archives and libraries."

Qasco have advised that no other Adastra records remain in their possession.

In 2009, Qasco merged with Survey21 to form Vekta.

The Adastra Aerial Surveys banner which appears at the head of this page shows the unique Adastra typeface which was applied to Adastra aircraft (Hudson and later). This font was laboriously recreated, one letter at a time, by former Adastra navigator Peter Shute.

 

An Adastra crew in company uniform
in the late forties.
Photo: Jack Howard Collection

[Click on image for a full screen view with explanatory caption]

Adastra staff posing with Hudson VH-AGX outside Hangar 15 at Mascot in 1954.
Photo: Mike Wood Collection


[Click on image for a full screen view with explanatory caption]

Three Adastra Hudsons outside Hangar 15 at Mascot circa 1956.
Photo: Allen Windross


[Click on image for a full screen view with explanatory caption]

 

 

 


ADASTRA MEMORABILIA

Adastra Badges
[Adrian Patterson Collection]

[Click on image for a full screen view of both badges]

 

An Adastra Airways passenger ticket.
[Roger McDonald Collection]

[Click on image for a full screen view of both sides of the ticket]

 


This advertisement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 2nd February 1934, promoting Adastra's new Sydney to Bega service which was due to commence three days later.

(Contributed by Roger McDonald)

 

A January 1935 Adastra advertisement for
British Klemm aeroplanes.

(Contributed by Roger McDonald)
Adastra commemorates the

50th anniversary of powered flight.

(Contributed by Roger McDonald)

 

 


A souvenir from the first annual Adastra Dance in 1931.

(Contributed by Jim McKnight)

 

 


Ticket No. 138 for the Adastra Social Club Ball
on Friday 4th September 1959.

(Contributed by Bill Mitchell)

 

 
New Year greetings from Mr & Mrs Bunny Hammond.
Unfortunately the year of issue is unknown.

(Contributed by Lorraine Staniland)

 

Adastra letterhead 1958
Adastra letterhead 1964

 

Click on above images for a full screen view.
For more letterheads, click the link below.



Adastra Aerial Surveys Sales Brochure.
[Click on image for a full screen view of all 8 pages]

 

"Australian Flying" of May 1970.
Reproduced with the permission of "Australian Flying"
[Click on image for a full screen view of all 6 pages]

The Hudson is VH-AGX. The personnel are (left to right)
Peter Shute (Navigator)
Geoff Dunn (Camera Operator)
Brian Costello (Pilot)

 

"AERO Australia" Issue 5 of Jan/Mar 2005.
Reproduced with the permission of "AERO Australia"
[Click on image for a full screen view of all 7pages]

 

Australian Aerial Survey Review No 1
Summer 1958
Australian Aerial Survey Review No 2
Autumn 1958
Australian Aerial Survey Review No 3
Spring 1958
Australian Aerial Survey Review No 4
Missing
Australian Aerial Survey Review No 5
October 1959
Australian Aerial Survey Review No 6
May 1960
Australian Aerial Survey Review No 7
Missing
Australian Aerial Survey Review No 8
February 1962
Australian Aerial Survey Review No 9
December 1963
Australian Aerial Survey Review No 10
August 1965

 


A plaque removed from Anson VH-BNS

(Contributed by Geoff Goodall)

 

A plaque removed from Hudson VH-AGP
during its restoration to military configuration.

(Click for a larger image)

(Ron Cuskelly Collection)


Sepal Reborn

The Vickers Avenue Doors

Adastra Hunting Geophysics emblem.

John Bertles advises that he and Rick Boughton designed this emblem which is based on the
Hunting winged horn. The "A" for "Adastra" came from the front of an Ardath cigarette packet!