HomeWelcomeUpdatesCompanyAircraftPeopleProjectsEquipmentOperationsPhoto AlbumGuest BookSearchAdastrianaQuestions

CHRONOLOGY 1930 -1939

Other Decades
DH-60M Moth VH-UOQ registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
DH-60M Moth VH-UOR registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
Follett to CCA: "I desire to officially advise you of the formation of our Company known as Adastra Airways Ltd., and for your information I am forwarding copies of our leaflets relating to our Mascot Flying School and also our Country Flying School scheme." "... after three weeks of operation ... sixteen pupils undergoing instruction." NAA MP115/1
CCA (H.C. Brinsmead) to Follett: "Wishing you all the best of success in your future operations." NAA MP115/1
Follett to CCA: "Operating for two months ... flown over 300 instructional hours ... over 25 pupils on our training list."
Follett complains at length of unfair competition from the Aero Club of NSW and requests similar subsidies.
NAA MP115/1
"Captain Harry (sic) T. Hammond and Captain Frank W. Follett, managers of Adastra Airways Ltd, arrived from Sydney in separate aeroplanes, after three hour flights. Each was high in his praise of the landing strip on King's Paddock at the Barnes Street aerodrome. On the following day, the Northern Daily Leader reported:

Each airman had the latest type of new metal fuselage Gipsy Moth fitted with Handley Page stall safety slots and blind flying instruments. Each carried an air pupil with him. Hammond and Follett are both war pilots, they have had long experience with active service and commercial flying. Follett is a graduate of the famous Gasport (sic) Special School of Instructional Flying, England, and trained many Australian pilots during the war ... Hammond received his initial training at the Central Flying School, England ... They are initiating country flying circuits, embracing those towns at which suitable landing grounds are available. Regular periodical visits will be made during which training will be conducted in progressive stages. The aircraft employed by Adastra Airways are of the type now standardised by both military and civil organisations throughout the world.

"Probably because of the Denison Street tragedy, fewer than expected students showed an interest in learning to fly and as a result, Adastra Airways never had a great impact in Tamworth. Another deterrent was the need to go to Sydney to gain the actual flying licence."

(Harry should be Henry and Gasport should be Gosport. The Denison Street tragedy refers to the crash on 31MAY30 of Avro Avian VH-UKR in Denison Street Tamworth with the loss of two lives.)
CD “Chronology History of Tamworth” AA-119 by Lyall Green
Follett to CCA: Continues the discussion of unfair competition. "Subsequent to our letter of 31 October we have extended our operations to include a country flying school at both Tamworth and Moree and we are hopeful that both these towns will develop into active training centres." NAA MP115/1
Genairco VH-UNY registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
DH-60X Moth VH-UGX registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
Avro Avian VH-UJY registered to Adastra Airways for this one day only. A. Arbon
Avro Avian VH-UJY disposed. A. Arbon
DH-60X Moth VH-UGX disposed. A. Arbon
Follett to Johnston: Notes that raising of floor of Adastra's hangar has been approved and enquires after progress as water enters the hangar during wet weather. Also advises that he is forwarding a separate letter regarding subsidy for flying training. Johnston Collection
Follett to A/CCA: Complaining that an aircraft of the Aero Club of NSW carried out night advertising flights over Sydney with an illuminated sign under the wings. Follett asks for fair play for unsubsidised commercial operators. NAA MP115/1
Follett to CCA: Citing the case of Dr E. Hazlett Frazer who completed 8½ hours of dual instruction with Adastra and then joined the Aero Club after being offered two free hours of dual instruction. Follett complains again of unfair competition, suggesting that the Aero Club's solo rate of £1/16/- is at or below cost. NAA MP115/1
Follett to Johnston: Refers to a visit by a representative of the Works Dept in connection with filling of the hangar floor and requests approval to cut about nine inches off the front doors to accommodate the raised floor. Also enquires if Adastra might be able to purchase the hangar from the RAAF for a nominal £150. "As you know we haven't much money". Also expresses interest in leasing forty to fifty feet at the rear to enable an extension of the hangar. Johnston Collection
A/CCA (E.C. Johnston) to Follett: Advising that the Aero Club is prohibited from conducting passenger flights or servicing non Aero Club aircraft in the vicinity of Mascot Aerodrome. The night time advertising flight referred to by Follett in his letter of 23MAR32 does not constitute a breach of the agreement but "the Branch does not look favourably upon such activities being undertaken by the Club." Advises that the Aero Club are required to seek Ministerial approval for any change to their fees and that Johnston is taking the matter up with the Club having been previously unaware of any fee changes. Johnston further advises that, while acknowledging the importance of the Aero Club movement "... this office is most anxious to foster private enterprise in Civil Aviation and will do everything reasonable in its power to protect such undertakings from unfair competition." NAA MP115/1
Johnston to Follett: Denies suggestions that the Department is favouring the Aero Clubs over private enterprise and urges "all bodies in civil aviation to try to pull together". Advises that the Air Force would not consent to the hangar doors being cut off. Suggests Follett approach Dicky Williams direct. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: "Reading your letter I feel that you are under the impression that our complaints against the Club are actuated from motives of animosity. This is not so, however. We are merely smarting under inequitable treatment and any animosity that exists has largely emanated from the other side. Let me put the position to you clearly and bluntly. In the first place everything we have and our future prospects are bound up in the success of Adastra. We have worked very hard and we have produced results in face of great difficulties. On the one hand we have the Aero Club which must have received in subsidy direct and indirect close on £20,000. It has free hangar accommodation. It pays no company taxation. It has the advantage of non-flying members' fees; of the proceeds from pageants, balls and other functions, to say nothing of private donations which alone have amounted to a considerable figure. On the other hand Adastra pays for all services, has purchased its own equipment and has had to establish itself and make its own reputation in a time of great depression without any assistance. We have had to reduce our fees to a competetive basis which to us are not profitable and under such circumstances it is extremely difficult for us to expand. We ourselves have gone on our way quietly simply producing the goods but since commencement we have had to combat antagonism which though not openly expressed must do us a lot of harm, and the source of which we know only too well."
Advises was unable to contact Dicky Williams in Sydney regarding the hangar and asks Johnston to discuss the matter with him in Melbourne. Proposes paying for the hangar in instalments. Advises that work to raise the hangar floor is in progress.
Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Advises that assistance to Aero Clubs has been Government policy. Advises that the Department is considering a method of assisting the whole industry. Has spoken to Dicky Williams about the hangar. The RAAF are not particularly desirous of selling it and have contemplated transferring it to Cockatoo or Richmond. Williams suggests that Adastra make a firm offer although Johnston doubts that they will accept the figure mentioned in Follett's previous letter. Johnston Collection
Follett to the Secretary of the Aero Club of NSW, Mascot: Enquiring if the Club House might be available to Adastra for a dance. Johnston Collection
Claud W. Smyth, Secretary Aero Club of NSW to Follett: Aero Club committee directs that it is undesirable for a commercial organisation to hold a function in the Club House. The committee's decision "is in no way actuated by any unfriendly feeling towards your organisation". Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Encloses copies of correspondence with the Aero Club regarding Adastra's request to hire the Club House for a dance as "it is indicative of the Club's attitude". Also refers to the desirability of popularising Mascot as publicity regarding the use of Hargrave has "the effect of imbuing the public mind with the idea that Mascot is defunct". Johnston Collection
Follett to Minister for Defence (Sir George Pearce): Seeking Government subsidy. "... the Adastra Flying School has now been in operation for nineteen months and during this period has flown approximately 3,000 hours and has trained 40 pupils to 'A' Licence standard, while over 180 persons have flown the Company's machines. No accident of any kind has occurred during training operations." Follett advises that the Company "is feeling keenly the effects of the prevailing financial depression".
NOTE: Although Follett's letter of 29MAR32 refers to "the Adastra School", this letter mentions, for the first time, the "Adastra Flying School". This description appears regularly from this point onwards.
NAA MP115/1
Johnston to Follett: Dicky Williams is not anxious to move the Mascot hangar since he has realised the costs of dismantling, repairs and re-erection. Johnston will continue to remind him to commit to a further reasonable lease. Adastra's proposal for assistance is still under consideration. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Welcomes fact that Williams is becoming more amenable regarding the hangar. Adastra is unable to spend any money (if it is available) until tenure of hangar is resolved. A committee has been formed to promote a "Boost Mascot Campaign". Follett has taken it upon himself to collect a small amount from each operator to pay for a combined advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald. Follett advises that he "cannot really afford the expense" of attending a convention in Melbourne. Refers to Adastra's request for government assistance and voices opposition to the resolution of a departmental committee that individual instructors should receive a bonus for training pupils. Follett notes that this would lead to a proliferation of "one-man schools". Johnston Collection
Follett to A/CCA: Enquiring if the Aero Club is permitted to carry passengers for hire or reward from Mascot. He claims that this is unfair to private operators who are "having an extremely trying time due to dearth of business." NAA MP115/1
A/CCA to Follett: The Aero Club of NSW are not permitted to carry passengers for hire from Mascot although they are permitted to carry members for hire and give prospective pupils one trial instructional flight. NAA MP115/1
Follett to Minister for Defence: Again seeking subsidies. Advises that the Adastra Flying School has flown some 3,500 hours and trained some 40 pupils to 'A' Licence standard, purchased its own equipment new and now has three training aircraft. Training is in accordance with the RAAF syllabus. Flying instruction is carried out only by the principals, Follett and Hammond. NAA MP115/1
Follett to Minister for Defence: Advising that the Adastra Flying School is offering a free flying scholarship. Applicants who pay an entrance fee of £1/-/- for a trial lesson will be graded and the successful applicant will receive free training to "A" Licence standard. Follett seeks favourable comment from the Department for release to the press. Newspaper advertisement. NAA MP115/1
Follett to Johnston: The Secretary of the Dept of Defense has written to Adastra requesting payment of £47/17/- rental owed on the hangar. Notes that "We will pay of course eventually if they insist but I am hoping a little assistance might be extended." Follett notes that mail contracts are "afar off" and advises that he "... wants to keep in the game but I am beginning to lose faith". Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Sees the forthcoming tenders for subsidised air routes as "the only ray of sunshine appearing on the far distant horizon, for I see no move yet being made to help private flying schools." Follett suggests that the proposed Cootamundra - Charleville air mail route be extended to Sydney. Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Advises that policy relating to flying schools has not yet been formulated and no change is likely until current agreements with the Aero Clubs expire in April 1933. Advises that an extension of the Cootamundra - Charleville route to Sydney is unlikely because of the need to connect with air mails from Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart for which Cootamundra is better placed. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: (Because of its significant content, this letter is quoted in full. It is the first mention of "air survey" in the file although clearly there had been earlier correspondence on this subject). "I received the Department's card of acknowledgement to my letter re air survey. I hope this does not mean a long delay in getting your reply, for I am anxious to get on with the matter in question. I took a run up to Richmond the other day and inspected their photographic section, and I find that they expected to do the Newnes survey, which is mentioned in the "Age" articles. This is a big job, about 1,500 square miles, and being close to our base would be ideal for a commencement of operations, hence my hurry. Naturally I can do nothing at all about securing capital without promises of support from the Department. Would you also kindly chase up a reply to my letter re the importation of Waco aircraft. I am rather keen on this survey project and am counting on your assistance." Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Is attending to Adastra's letter regarding air survey "... as well as I am able under the extreme pressure of work here. As I am convinced that air survey is a useful sphere of civil aviation activities, you can of course rely upon my doing anything I can in the matter." Johnston Collection
Genairco VH-UNY crashed at Mascot. A. Arbon
Follett to Johnston: "Your letter of 29th (not in file..Ed) reached me when the horizon was very dark for I guess you can appreciate what Jim Weir's crash has meant to me." (Evidently refers to Genairco VH-UNY which crashed at Mascot on 28APR33). Advises that aircraft was not insured and the write-off will result in a loss of £500. "Quite candidly I feel like giving up the game for I realize our present operations are a gamble and not a business ... the only avenue open now to build up a profitable business is in air survey but I am afraid it will take so long to get going that I may not be able to last the distance. I would not like to see Adastra pass out, nor, I am sure, would you. If something could be done quickly about air survey I would sell our present equipment and probably purchase a machine such as the new twin Monospar. I would engage an expert photographic operator (probably a sergeant from RAAF) and do the flying myself. I wrote Brearley about his F8 camera - he offered it at cost price about £550. Just like normal. (Could be "Norman" but appears more like "normal" ...Ed) Possibly something might be done about a temporary loan of a camera from the RAAF... I see three Wapitis left Richmond for Brisbane the other day for survey work - that job might have been ours ... If I can get a definite programme of photographic work with occasional taxi jobs I will cheerfully abandon the Flying School field." Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Extends sympathy re Jim Weir's crash and the death of the passenger. "I have not yet seen the official report of the Accident Committee, and am therefore rather in the dark as to what happened. What is your opinion?" Johnston believes that the Dept would have to invite offers to set up an air survey unit with indications of the measure of Government support required. Johnston encourages Follett to continue seeking tentative promises of air survey work. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Expresses disappointment at Johnston's previous letter. "Jim Weir's crash I am afraid is going to break me and not only the effort but also the money I have in the firm will go west. School work has dwindled to very little and air taxi trips are few and far between and it is now most unusual to see prospective passengers at Mascot. To me, aviation here appears to be in a shocking state, practically all the best pilots have gone to New Guinea, others have left the game disgusted. Firm after firm has gone out, yet all the time the favoured services receive their £180 per day." Follett again expresses the view that air survey is the company's only hope and that air survey work should be performed by a private firm and not the RAAF. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: "In spite of depression we are holding our Annual Dance as usual and I hope you will be able to come along." Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Thanks Follett for the dance invitation and will attend if able. Acknowledges earlier letter re air survey and assures Follett that he is "very keen on the matter and most anxious to do whatever I possibly can." Asks Follett to be "patient awhile". Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Has received a letter from the Minister and is pleased to see that a move is being made. Is contemplating selling one of his Moths and buying an Eagle camera straight away at a cost of £500. Follett is also seeking repair and reconditioning work to keep the company going. Attempted to get the agency for the British Monospar but this went to Robert Bryce. Expresses the view that "the RAAF would be favourable to helping our show". Advises Johnston that the company's cash reserves are running low. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Is pleased to see press reports that the Department has allotted £5,000 to assist private enterprise including aerial survey and expresses the wish that Adastra will be able to participate. Advises Johnston that he has been contemplating a small regular service for a long time. Proposes to operate Sydney - Bega, initially once or twice weekly but later daily. "I have the Monospar in view as I have a feeling that passengers like twin engines." Advises Johnston that he has been in touch with Williamsons in London regarding the purchase of an Eagle camera for £500 and enquires if a camera might be secured or purchased from the RAAF. "Guess you're having a rough time with the air mail. Personally I would like to see buses like the Astraea here - I have little faith in Wackett productions. Smithy is now a competitor of mine and promises to be a little unscrupulous. However I suppose it's all in the game." Johnston Collection
Follett to CCA: Refers to press reports that the Government is about to begin subsidising small regular air services and air survey activities in the amount of £5,000. "For some time also we have contemplated the establishment of a small regular air service on the south coast of New South Wales between Sydney and Bega." Follett seeks financial assistance for the Bega service and for survey activities". NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
CCA to Follett: Advises that £2,000 of the grant is for geological survey and photography and is not administered by Dept. of Defence. The remaining £3,000 is for civil aviation and Adastra's proposal for the Sydney - Bega service will receive consideration when the allocation of funds is determined. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to CCA: Advises that Adastra aircraft have already landed at Bega on several occasions using a private ground near Jellat Flats about four miles south east of the town of Bega. Adastra have begun enquiries to determine if this ground could be permanently secured and if it is suitable in all weathers. Follett proposes an initial bi-weekly frequency for the Sydney - Bega service. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to CCA: Advises that although the Bega service is most desirable, Adastra will consider other routes if the Department so desires. Adastra have already investigated the possibilities for the following routes:
Sydney - Newcastle
Sydney - Dubbo (to connect with the projected overseas air mail)
Tamworth - Inverell
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
CCA to Follett: Requesting further particulars of the proposed Bega service. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to CCA: Requests either an annual lump sum subsidy of £750 or a mileage system based route mileages of:
Sydney to Nowra (Railhead) 70 miles
Nowra to Bega 140 miles
If the subsidy is to be applied to the whole route Adastra requests 8.2 pence per mile for one return trip each week.
If the subsidy is to apply only to Nowra - Bega, Adastra requests 12.3 pence per mile for one return trip each week.
Adastra proposes an initial frequency of two return trips each week.
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to CCA: Requests amendment to subsidy application to show two return trips per week. Subsidies requested are now:
Sydney - Bega 4.1 pence per mile.
Nowra - Bega 6 pence per mile.
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17

Follett to CCA: Adastra now proposing a Sydney - Canberra route (160 miles at 4 pence per mile for two return trips each week). The total annual subsidy would approximate £554. Adastra will operate which ever service attracts subsidy. Adastra advises that "we have now taken delivery of a new Fox Moth aeroplane" and "we are now in a position to commece operation of either route immediately approval is given to assist us in the manner requested."

NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
DH-83 Fox Moth VH-UQU registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
Follett to The Commissioner of Road Transport (NSW): Advising intention to operate services Sydney - Bega, Sydney - Canberra and Sydney - Newcastle and seeking assurances that no restrictions will be imposed. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Commissioner Department of Road Transport (NSW) to Follett: Advising that aircraft used on the service will have to be licensed for which the annual fee is five shillings. Charges apply to services operated over territory served by the railways but in view of the fact that the proposed service is experimental, the Department will reduce the charge to one pound per week for each of the three routes for a period of six months after which charges will be reviewed. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Commissioner of Road Transport: While welcoming that charges are nominal, seeks assurances that charges will not increase after six months and advises that the service will cease if increased charges render operations unprofitable. "We might mention that the aircraft we have in view are of a type that are regarded by the British Air Ministry as suitable for auxiliary defence, having been used for this purpose in Iraq, and as such we feel sure they would prove an asset to the Commonwealth and this State in particular." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Commissioner Department of Road Transport (NSW) to Follett: Advising that the maximum charge is based on one penny per passenger per mile but such a charge would not necessarily be imposed. The Commissioner also advises that it will not be possible to say if charges will increase after the probationary period. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Johnston: Is negotiating for the agency of the British Klemm Aeroplane Company Ltd and requests a letter of recommendation from Johnston as Controller. "I would particularly like my previous association with the Department mentioned and also your official opinion on our Firm's standing in the industry." Also expresses a wish that "some of the £3,000 grant will come our way." Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: "To comply with your request for a letter of recommendation would be a departure from normal official procedure, and I am afraid I cannot do so in an official capacity. However, I have no hesitation in stating that your firm has been operating at Mascot since the year 1930 and is well and favourably known to the Department." Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Enclosing the personal letter of support requested by Follett (this is not included in the file - Ed) Johnston advises Follett that the £3,000 grant propositions are now under consideration. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Thanking Johnston for the letter of recommendation "It was just what I wanted" and extolling the virtues of the Klemm Eagle for Departmental use. "Still have the nose above water but only just". Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Commending the British Klemm Eagle for Departmental use. "I should like to sell you one - what about it." Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Thanks Follett for the specifications of the British Klemm Eagle but would require more information before he could think about buying one. Johnston Collection
Recommendation by CCA: The CCA recommends to the Minister five successful applicants for subsidy. Included is Adastra's application to operate a return service between Sydney and Bega twice weekly. The subsidy is £750 per annum which approximates to 4.1 pence per mile. The contract is for a period of twelve months. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
The recommendations by the CCA dated 07DEC33 are approved by the Minister, G.F. Pearce. There were some 37 applications of which only five (including Adastra's) were approved. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Johnston: "Your wire last night was a very interesting piece of news and I would like you to know how much I appreciate your recommendation and the confidence you place in Adastra. I will not deal with the service in this note but will await the letter mentioned in your telegram. Suffice it to say that the announcement has given me new heart to carry on." (The telegram is not in the file. Presumably it relates to the Bega service. See 14DEC33 - Ed) Johnston Collection
CCA to Follett: Confirming his telegram of 12DEC33 the CCA advises that Adastra's Sydney - Bega service will be subsidised in the amount of £750 per annum. The contract is to be for twelve months and it is assumed that the service will operate via Nowra. The CCA advises that the service can commence as soon as a landing ground can be licensed at Bega. Inspector Augenson is to inspect landing grounds at Bega and Nowra and the CCA urges Follett to accompany him on his inspection. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to CCA: Adastra proposes to operate a return trip Sydney - Bega on Mondays and Fridays. Nowra Council has expressed interest in Nowra being an intermediate stop and have suggested that Follett inspect several suitable landing grounds. Follett proposes a flying visit and invites Inspector Augenson to accompany him. Follett encloses copies of correspondence with the NSW Commissioner for Road Transport regarding state taxes and seeks the assistance of the CCA. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Johnston: Advising that he has been very busy on the initial organisation of the Bega run and has been hampered by the lack of an assistant pilot. Wishes to engage N. Adam (?) but he has allowed his Instructor's Licence to lapse. Clearly Follett is hoping that Johnston will intervene with a temporary approval. Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: In response to an earlier request for performance figures on the British Klemm Eagle, Johnston advises that the machine has not yet been to Martlesham for trials but will advise when trials have been completed. "Hope that Augenson and you had a successful trip down to Bega and that the matter of landing grounds along the route will be fixed shortly." Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Regarding testing of the Klemm Eagle. Expresses a desire to have the Bega ground licensed so that the service can commence. (This letter is the first since May 1933 to be type-written. All preceding letters from Follett were hand-written on Adastra letterhead. However, official correspondence to Johnston as CCA had been typed). Johnston Collection

CCA to Follett: Regarding the time-table for the Bega service. Adastra have proposed:

Leave Sydney
Monday and Friday
Arrive Bega
Monday and Friday
Leave Bega
Monday and Friday
Arrive Sydney
Monday and Friday

In consultation with the Postmaster-General's Department, the CCA proposes:

Leave Sydney
Monday and Friday
Arrive Bega
Monday and Friday
Leave Bega
Monday and Friday
Arrive Sydney
Monday and Friday

This alteration is to allow the mail from Bega to catch the final delivery from the G.P.O. at 4 p.m. daily.

NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to CCA: Advising that the time-table proposed by Adastra was designed to enable Bega residents to conduct a day's business in Sydney and that the comparatively small amount of air mail to and from Bega does not warrant changing the time-table. Follett requests that Adastra be allowed to operate to the time-table proposed by the company and proposes a commencement date of 05FEB34. Follett also advises that he has requested the State Meteorological Department to communicate with light houses on the Sydney - Bega route to obtain actual weather conditions. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
CCA to Follett: Approving commencement of Bega service on 05FEB34. Approving use of time-table proposed by Adastra but reserving Department's right to vary the time-table if it thinks fit. Advising that the Nowra landing ground is not yet ready and presuming that the service will omit the landing at Nowra. The matter of obtaining weather reports from light houses is receiving attention. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
The first Sydney - Bega service departed Mascot at 8.30 a.m. The inaugural service was operated by two aircraft, Fox Moth (VH-UQU) flown by Frank Follett and an unknown Gipsy Moth (possibly either VH-UOQ or VH-UOR) flown by Norman Adams. See The Airline Sydney Morning Herald 06FEB34
Follett to Johnston: (Hand-written) Advising that Adastra has been appointed representatives for N.S.W. and Queensland for the British Klemm Aircraft Company. Again he commends the Eagle for Departmental use. "The first Eagle will be ready at the end of February." Advises that the Bega service is now running regularly. Follett advises that he was unable to raise the necessary guarantees to tender for the Charleville - Cootamundra service. Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Acknowledging advice re Klemm agency and requesting more "dope" on Klemm products. Also expresses good wishes for the Bega service. Johnston Collection
Telegram - Follett to CCA: "Compelled discontinue service probably fortnight owing severe floods Bega. Assume permission make up lost trips later. Can Departmental officer make further inspection view location higher ground." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Johnston: Advising that he is forwarding a copy of the Klemm hand book and recommending the Eagle for Departmental use. "... I feel sure the Department could do with a machine of this type. What about it?" (This letter and all subsequent letters from Adastra are type-written). Johnston Collection
Follett to CCA: Requesting granting of subsidy to a third trip to Bega each week (on Wednesday). NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Johnston: Advising that Adastra have applied for a subsidy on a third trip to Bega each week. Notes press reports that Qantas Empire Airways are likely to extend through to Brisbane and possibly on to Melbourne. "I hope they are not going to turn into an octopus and swallow up the smaller fry. However, I believe you have enough sympathy for the die hards to see that this does not happen." Johnston Collection
CCA to Follett: Rejecting request to subsidise a third service to Bega. Matter of subsidies on this route is due for review on 01JAN35. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Johnston to Follett: Request for a subsidy on a third Bega trip declined. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Indicates he will tender for the Bourke - Adelaide service. "... very concerned about the faint hint that there should be any possibility of discontinuance of our subsidy." Also refers to a persistent rumour that Ulm (possibly in collaboration with Brearley) is about to float a big company to operate services to Brisbane, New Guinea and possibly the South Coast. Also refers to a report that strangers have been investigating an aerodrome site in Bega. Johnston Collection

Follett to CCA: Adastra will commence a third Bega trip on Wednesday 20JUN34 at the company's expense. Follett also requests assistance with the provision of emergency landing grounds on the route. The proposed time-table for the mid-week trip is:

Leave Sydney
Arrive Bega
Leave Bega
Arrive Sydney

NAA MP131/1 192/111/17

Follett to CCA: Advising that the Bega service operates to the following schedule:

Leave Sydney
Monday, Wednesday & Friday
Leave Bega
Monday, Wednesday & Friday

Passenger fares are £3/15/- single and £6/-/- return.
Freight rates are 1/- per pound with a minimum charge of 2/-.
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Johnston: Follett seeks Johnston's opinion of the Monospar recently acquired by the Department as Adastra is studying the type for the Bega route and other similar routes. "I know you must be very busy at present, what with Centenary Race problems etc." Johnston Collection
A.R. McComb to Follett (in Johnston's absence and addressed "Dear Foll"): Johnston will advise re the Monospar on his return. Advises that Mr Augenson recently inspected the following sites on the South Coast: Moruya, Narooma, Bega, Gerringong, Nowra, Bermagui, Cobargo and Jervis Bay. The ground at Nowra is already in course of preparation. Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Advises that the Monospar is due on Friday of this week. Will advise opinion after delivery. "... hoping that I will be able to slip up to Sydney more frequently when we have the Monospar." Johnston Collection
British Klemm L 25c-1 VH-USH registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon

A Cabinet paper (Agenda No. 1263) headed "Minor Subsidised Air Services" tabulates the average results of the four airline operators during the first eight months of the scheme. Of the four operators, Adastra ranks second on passengers and last on freight and mail.

Service Passengers
(per each mile flown)
(per trip)
(per trip)
Sydney - Bega 1.39 25 pounds 5 ounces



The CCA submits that the services have proved successful and that the contracts be extended for a further year. The CCA also recommends the expenditure of £250 on the provision of emergency landing grounds on the Sydney - Bega route. The paper proposes that subsidies be discontinued after 30JUN35. The paper ends with a hand-written notation "Subsidy to be reduced by half from July 1st 1935". It is signed by J.A. Lyons (Prime Minister)

NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to CCA: Thanks the CCA for approving the new Sydney - Bega air mail schedule which is planned to come into effect on Monday 10th December. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
British Klemm BK.1 VH-USP registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
CCA to Follett: Advising that subsidies will be reduced by half from 01JUL35 and advising that Adastra will be required to sign a contract for services operated during the period 05FEB34 to 30JUN35. The CCA also enquires if Adastra propose to continue the service at the reduced subsidy rate from 01JUL35. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17

Dept of Defence Minute Paper signed by CCA: Tabulates initial subsidy rates and reduced rates after 30JUN35.

Annual Mileage
Original Subsidy
Subsidy after 30.6.35
  Per year Equivalent per mile Per year Equivalent per mile
Adastra Sydney-Bega 42,640 £750 4.2 pence £375 2.1 pence



The CCA fears that most if not all operators will be unable to continue at the reduced rate.

NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
DH-60M Moth VH-UOQ crashed in Cronulla Bay. A. Arbon
British Klemm L 25c-1 VH-URZ registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
Follett to Minister for Defence (Archdale Parkhill): Acknowledges a letter of 08MAR35 from the Minister and thanks the Minister for the favour of a forthcoming personal interview. Follett indicates his intention to plead for the retention of existing subsidy rates. States that an official aerodrome has been opened at Nowra and that it has already been used by military aircraft from Richmond. Municipal authorities at Bega and Moruya are considering constructing aerodromes but are unlikely to do so if the Adastra service is withdrawn. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
A/CCA (McComb) to Secretary of the Dept: McComb pleads the case for retention of subsidies at the existing level "having regard to the comparatively small sum involved". "Adastra Airways have taken an active part in an endeavour to establish additional landing grounds on the South Coast route and their efforts in this direction are worthy of favourable consideration. The air service operated by Adastra Airways has been conducted in a very satisfactory manner ..." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
British Klemm BK.1 VH-UTG registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
Follett to Minister for Defence: Follett pleads the case for retention of existing subsidies. "We feel that if we are allowed to continue on the present subsidy basis for a further period of one year the service will be much closer to a self-supporting basis". NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
A/CCA (McComb) to Secretary of the Dept: McComb again pleads the case for retention of subsidies at the existing level again "having regard to the comparatively small sum involved". McComb cites Adastra having made an aircraft available for medical work. "Advices from the R.A.A.F. indicate that the aerodromes at Bega and Nowra, the establishment of which were due, in the main, to the efforts of Adastra Airways, are suitable for the operation of service aircraft. Nowra aerodrome has already been used by the R.A.A.F. in operations with the Navy and there seems no doubt that had Adastra not gone to some trouble and expense to induce the local authorities to prepare an aerodrome at Nowra, the Commonwealth would have been obliged to prepare at its own expense an aerodrome in this locality for service purposes." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
A/CCA (McComb) to Secretary of the Dept: McComb again pleads the case for retention of subsidies at the existing level and requests urgent reconsideration. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
A/CCA to Follett: Confirming his telegram of 12JUL35 "Minister has approved continuation original subsidy rate as from 1/7/35 for Sydney-Bega service subject review twelve months' time." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Adastra advise the Department that they have added a Saturday service to Bega (in addition to Monday, Wednesday and Friday). NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Johnston: "No doubt you have come back to a lot of problems, but in the midst of all these I think you will be interested to learn that Adastra is still on deck and recently decided to take the risk of purchasing the necessary camera and photographic equipment to embark on aerial survey and photography. Quite candidly, Edgar, I am looking to this phase of our activities to be our mainstay in the future. I do not like school work, never have, and have engaged in it out of sheer necessity; but I regard air survey and photography as the substantial side of commercial flying and a phase of activities in which my own engineering knowledge will bear some fruit. I am going into the job properly, though making a modest beginning, but later on I hope to be able to add to our equipment and knowledge so that we can do all the accurate topographical and ordinance work, such as is done in the United Kingdom and overseas. As you would expect, I have written both to your Department and to the Minister for Defence on this matter, and quite recently I received an exceedingly nice letter from the Minister, in which he wished our project every success, promised that every assistance possible would be given us to establish ourselves, and also stated that he had issued an instruction that the R.A.A.F. should, unless approved by him, confine their photographic activities to work for Commonwealth Departments. This should leave the sphere of State Departments and private enterprise to us. At the moment we are doing a job for the Water Conservation & Irrigation Commission, surveying an area of 800 square miles in the vicinity of Moree - at a very low figure I might mention, for we had to meet the R.A.A.F. price to secure the job. We have also secured a job to survey the City of Brisbane; and the State Mines Department here have a job in the vicinity of Cobar for which we have submitted a quotation. By the way, you may recollect that some time ago we discussed the possibility of securing photographic strip maps and aerodrome sites for all the recognised civil air routes in Australia. This is a job that we are now able to tackle and I am wondering whether the Department's estimates could be stretched sufficiently to allow us to do the work for you. Our equipment is the new Williamson "Eagle" III and we are using a "Swallow", which has proved very suitable for the job." Johnston Collection
B.A. Swallow II VH-UUJ registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
Johnston to Follett: Acknowledges Follett's letter of 12th October and apologises for the delay in replying "due to the further '86 accident". Johnston is "glad to hear" about Adastra's progress and looks forward to "having a yarn" with Follett on a forthcoming trip to Sydney. Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Johnston understands that Follett is Chairman of an aviation panel within the Chamber of Commerce and seeks further details of "how it is being brought about, and how it works ... as soon as possible." Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Confirms that he is Chairman of the Aviation Sectional Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and outlines the membership and workings of the committee. An enclosed press cutting states that the Committee was formed on 21st May. Follett also raises the matter of the importation of American aircraft having seen a press statement to the effect that this was now possible. Follett sent a telegram to the Department requesting permission to import Waco aircraft immediately but was surprised to be advised that conditions were yet to be drafted and approved by Parliament. Follett has already secured an order for a Waco and the client is anxious for immediate delivery. Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Requesting more information on the Aviation Section Committee. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: In response to Johnston's questions regarding the Committee. Johnston Collection
Adastra's Chief Pilot, Norman Adam, left to form Brown and Dureau's Aviation Division. G. Goodall
Johnston to Follett (date is partly illegible): Outlining proposed changes to the Customs Proclamation regarding the importation of foreign aircraft and seeking Follett's advice on same. (There is no record of Follett's reply in the file). Johnston Collection
British Klemm BK.1 VH-USP disposed. A. Arbon
Follett to Johnston: Has heard unofficially that the Department is considering making a gift of a Hornet Moth to certain or all of the Aero Clubs. Follett hopes that the rumour is baseless but indicates that if it is true he will protest the exclusion of other British manufacturer's products, in particular the Swallow for which Adastra are agents. Johnston Collection
CCA to Secretary of Dept: Recommends that Adastra's request for approval to use a Waco on the Sydney-Bega service be approved. Adastra have not yet placed an order pending Government approval. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Johnston to Follett: Acknowledges that the Aero Clubs do require new equipment but states that Follett's information is "not very accurate". Also discusses the Aviation Sectional Committee and the Empire Airmail Scheme. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Discusses the politics of the Aviation Sectional Committee. "You may be interested to know that I have just concluded negotiations for the purchase of the entire photographic equipment of the Western Mining Corporation. This is a big step forward for us, as we are now better equipped even than the R.A.A.F. The equipment includes inter alia an Eagle IV camera and a large special mosaic copying camera - the latter has been the subject of negotiation for some time between the Corporation and the R.A.A.F., but they have left it too late now. I shall be very financially embarrassed for some time owing to this liability - but I am hopeful that it will prove a good investment in the long run. I have been successful in securing the Cobar contract for the N.S.W. Mines Department, and this work should keep us going for a while. I am, however, most anxious to secure continuity and anything the new Civil Board can do will be much appreciated. I should like you to give consideration to photographing the strip right down from Darwin - we will be pleased to give you a quotation, and with the special lenses we have on order from England we will be able to make it a reasonable one. Work such as that would help us considerably." Johnston Collection
The "Bega Mail Plane" (believed to be Fox Moth VH-UQU) collided with another aircraft on take-off at Mascot. G. Goodall
B.A. Eagle Mk II VH-UUY registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
Johnston to Follett: Requests a cost estimate of photographing the strip down from Darwin. Johnston Collection
Report in "Aircraft" magazine: "Adastra Airways have sold nine Klemm Swallows during the past year ... a Waco de Luxe has been ordered by a Mr. Faulkner, a well-known station owner." "Aircraft" 01MAY36
Follett to Johnston: "I am banking everything on the future for this class of work, in fact I would like to confine our activities entirely to it. I am opening up new offices in the City and have engaged the services of one of the best R.A.A.F. photographers, which makes the photographic personnel four. Added to the equipment I have just purchased, this places us in a position to do any job." Also discusses methods and costs for the proposed Darwin strip map. Approximate cost of vertical photography would be 30/- per square mile. Oblique photos would cost £1/-/- per running mile. Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Advises that vertical photography is beyond the Department's means. Suggests that Follett examine the multiple lens Fairchild camera used by the Army Air Service in America. Suggests that Follett study the subject further and submit a concrete offer "but of course not at our request". Johnston Collection
Follett to Secretary CAB: Forwarding a schedule of costs and revenue for the Sydney-Bega service as requested by the Board on 14AUG36. Follett advises that freight has comprised almost entirely newspapers but Adastra lost this contract in May owing to an agreement between the two newspaper combines. This has cut revenue by some £350/-/- and as a result fares have been decreased from £3/15/- single and £6/-/- return to £3/3/- and £5/5/- in the hope of promoting traffic. Passenger loadings have increased although the reduction only took effect from 08JUN36. Adastra aspires to increasing frequencies to daily except Sunday but this will not be possible if subsidies are not maintained. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to CAB: Again seeking subsidies for the flying school referring to earlier representations "some considerable time ago". Advises that Adastra has been operating continuously for over six years with marked success and fees are below those of the subsidised Aero Club. Follett indicates that rising costs have forced consideration of "whether it is advisable for us to continue this phase of our activities". NAA MP115/1
Secretary CAB (S.H. Crawford) to Follett: The Board is not prepared to recommend a variation of present policy. NAA MP115/1
Follett to Secretary CAB: "We recently wrote to you in regard to securing subsidy for our flying school operations and were duly advised that your policy was to limit training subsidies to Aero Clubs, as heretofore. We do not think we can continue flying training on a satisfactory basis under these conditions and have accordingly decided to close down our flying school activities in the very near future. We will now concentrate our energies on our aerial survey activities and the development of the Sydney-Bega air mail route." Frequencies on the Sydney-Bega route have been increased to four weekly although only two are subsidised. Adastra believes that a daily operation is necessary to develop the route. Follett advises that Adastra are purchasing "a new Waco cabin aircraft fitted with ambulance equipment" which is intended to enter service in early February. Follett advises that Adastra are "arranging to spend a considerable amount of money on the clearing of a new landing ground at Bega". Follett requests an increase in annual subsidy from £750 to £1000 on the condition that Adastra operate the service six days a week.
This letter originates from Adastra's Derwent House address.
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
DH-60M Moth VH-UOR disposed. A. Arbon

Secretary CAB to Follett: Rejects request for increased subsidy and cites traffic on the four times weekly service from January to September 1936 as: (average per trip)
Paying passengers: 1.5
Mail: negligible
Freight: 13 pounds

NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Secretary CAB to Deputy Crown Solicitor: Advising that the Minister for Defence has approved the continuance of subsidy payments and requesting that contracts be drawn up. The payments are approved for nine months from 01OCT36. The contract for the Sydney-Bega service is to specify the following aircraft:
DH-83 at £3/12/1 per trip or 4.2 pence per mile
DH-60 at £2/19/9 per trip or 3.5 pence per mile.
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Johnston: Discusses the politics of the Aviation Section Committee and the referendum. Advises that he has now established his headquarters at Derwent House in Liverpool Street, Sydney where he has an up to date aerial survey section and invites inspection by the Board. Advises that "Our new Waco ambulance is now erected and awaiting test ... We are of course unable to put it into service until the C. of A. arrives from America." Johnston Collection
B.A. Swallow II VH-UUJ disposed. A. Arbon
Frog's Hollow Aerodrome (7 miles south of Bega) was opened. "The Mayor (Alderman D.C. Rosenthall), in declaring the aerodrome open, said that Adastra Airways, since commencing the Sydney-Bega service about three years ago, had travelled 270,000 miles and carried more than 1,000 passengers from Bega without the slightest mishap." Sydney Morning Herald 11MAY37
Follett to Johnston: Expresses concern at the Departmental Officers' lack of interest in Adastra's operations. Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Expresses shock at Follett's allegations and requests evidence. (The file does not contain Follett's response). Johnston Collection
Follett to Secretary CAB: Advising timetable alterations because of employment of the Waco on the route.
Departure Mascot changed from 8.30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Arrival at Mascot is 1 p.m. if calls are not made at Nowra and Bermagui.
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
The Sydney - Bega route increased to 6 return trips weekly. G. Goodall
Follett to Secretary CAB: Advising that "for the past fortnight we have been running every day except Sundays". Operating expenses have increased because the Waco uses high octane fuel. Follett again requests that the subsidy be increased from £750 to £1000 citing that the service has encouraged the establishment of landing grounds at Bega, Bermagui and Nowra. An aerodrome is also being constructed at the mouth of the Moruya River. Follett advises that Adastra are using 240 gallons of fuel per week which contributes £360 per annum in petrol tax. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
Telegram Follett to CAB: "Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation negotiating with us employ Australian built Gannet on Bega route. This impossible with present subsidy. In view Departments policy foster local manufacture glad your advice whether consideration can be given subsidy £2000 per annum daily run basis calling Nowra Moruya Bermagui Bega carrying mail. This subsidy under fourpence per mile." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Secretary CAB: In response to a letter requesting information on the carriage of mail on the Bega run, Follett advises that there are six trips weekly of which only two are subsidised. Flights on unsubsidised days do not run if there are no passengers booked. Adastra will carry mail on any service if the Postmaster General's Dept deliver and collect the mail at Mascot but Adastra cannot afford to operate with mail only. "Should, however, your Department grant us additional subsidy to make it worth-while to run on unsubsidised days irrespective of passenger traffic the position would be different." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Secretary CAB: Advising that Adastra has decided to purchase a de Havilland Dragonfly for the South Coast route. The Gannet was rejected because it provided greater capacity than was needed and at a higher capital cost. The Dragonfly is expected to arrive early in January. The Moruya aerodrome is expected to be completed early in February. Follett will be making a motor tour of South Coast districts with a view to encouraging the construction of an aerodrome at Milton and Ulladulla. Again Follett asks for increased subsidies to maintain a daily operation. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Adastra's routes are Sydney - Nowra - Bermagui - Bega. G. Goodall
Follett to Secretary CAB: "We have this day taken delivery of our 'Dragonfly' twin engined aircraft and expect to place it in service in about three weeks time." Follett enquires if consideration has been given to increased subsidies. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Dept of Defence Minute Paper from Finance Member: Argues strenuously against the subsidies. Referring to the Dragonfly; "In my opinion, the traffic loadings offering on this route do not justify such a big machine or such frequency of service." The writer argues that subsidies should be reduced and that operating companies be required to submit balance sheets and profit and loss accounts to permit a review. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Secretary CAB: Follett apologises for the delay in forwarding working accounts owing to his absence on an inspection of South Coast aerodromes. The statement for the period Feb 37 to Feb 38 shows a loss although revenue improved in the second half. Follett attributes this to the initiation of a daily run and the advent of modern aircraft. He advises that additional land clearing has been necessary at Bega to accommodate the Dragonfly. Adastra's aerial survey and charter activities are carrying the Bega service. A spare Gipsy Major has been purchased for the Dragonfly and a spare Jacobs engine for the Waco has also been purchased. Ulladulla have agreed to develop a municipal landing ground. Follett requests that the subsidy be increased to £1500 which represents a rate of 2.8 pence per mile. At this rate Adastra would undertake to carry mail on every trip. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Dragonfly VH-AAD registered to Adastra Airways. A. Arbon
DH-83 Fox Moth VH-UQU disposed. A. Arbon
Follett to Johnston: Has heard that the Board is discussing with the Surveyor General, the question of surveying several air routes from the air. "I should very much like to be in on the job - particularly as at the moment our survey contracts are very low. Our Company is completely equipped and fully experienced to undertake surveys of any size and any magnitude." Johnston Collection

Department of Defence Minute Paper from Finance Member: The following statistics relating to the Bega service are for the twelve month period ended 28FEB38:

Nature of Trip Single Trips Passengers Freight Mail
Subsidised 210 553
(2.6 per trip)
2783 pounds
(13 lbs per trip)
25.6 pounds
(2 oz per trip)
Unsubsidised 213 793
(3.6 per trip)
3945 pounds
(18 lbs per trip)




Of these trips, 100 were by Fox Moth and 323 were by Waco.
The paper includes a summary of Adastra's expenses. The writer suggests that the Bega service is "bearing certain substantial costs rightly chargeable or apportionable to other of the Company's activities". A hand-written note (by E.C. Johnston?) suggests that the company be asked to justify items called into question by the Finance Member.


NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Johnston to Follett: Cannot find any foundation for the rumour (regarding surveying of air routes) and assures Follett that Adastra will not be overlooked if any such projects come up. Proposes visiting Sydney next week and "looks forward to having a bit of a yarn with you." Johnston Collection
Secretary CAB to Follett: Queries several of Adastra's costs:
Petrol £1,242/16/0 "appears definitely overstated by at least £400."
Salaries and Wages £1,768 "represents approximately 40 per cent of gross costs, and in the opinion of the Board excessive."
Depreciation of Aircraft £526/10/0 "represents write-off at the rate of 33 1/3 per cent on both the Waco and the DH83."
Insurance of Aircraft £238/5/8 "appears to cover full insurance premium" The Board enquires if this should be apportioned to other operations.
Oldsmobile Car Sydney £70/15/9 "Is it used exclusively in connection with the Bega service?"
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to Secretary CAB:
Petrol: "You are in error in stating that only 211½ complete return trips were carried out during the period under review. Records submitted to you will show at least 274 trips. We on our part regret that our auditor estimated petrol charges on the basis of five trips per week with the Waco aircraft. This was done without detailed reference to our statistics. However, on the figure of 274 trips, and allowing for the trips carried out by the Fox Moth, the petrol figure is not so very much below what we submitted."
Salaries: Follett argues that they are moderate.
Depreciation: Follett confirms that the company uses a rate of 33 1/3 per cent as do other companies.
Insurance: Both aircraft are dedicated to the Bega run and other use is "infinitesimal".
Oldsmobile: The car is used exclusively in connection with the Bega service. The second engineer on Adastra's staff uses the car to drive passengers to and from Mascot. These charges were not included in costs previously advised.
Follett continues with a lengthy argument for increased subsidies.
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Adastra shipped a B.A. Eagle from Sydney to Port Moresby on the "Montoro" for a series of survey flights for Papuan Apinaipi Petroleum Co Ltd. Pilot was Norm Rodoni. G. Goodall
Follett to Johnston: (This letter is quoted in full) "Following on our talk the other night at the reception for the Dutchmen, I think I should give you a short resume of Adastra's history as apparently you are under the impression that I have some big shareholders behind me.

Adastra was formed in 1930 with a very small capital, with myself, Bunny Hammond, and my sister as the main shareholders. During the first year with our two Gipsy Moths on school flying we did quite well, but then came the depression and things got worse and worse until we were living on our capital. Hammond decided to leave for New Guinea and join Holden's Airways. He later wrote and asked whether I would care to buy out his interest, which I finally did although I had to mortgage my boots to do it.

I carried on alone and did the instructional flying, taxi work, management, in fact everything and just managed to keep above water and get through the depression. Colonel Brinsmead, as you know, would have liked to have given me a subsidy for the school but could not on account of policy - which I fully understood. Then came your own term of office and the decision to subsidise certain operators on small routes. I was then faced with my biggest problem, for I had no money with which to buy the Fox Moth necessary to start an air service to Bega. Finally I was able to persuade a prominent Sydney business man to invest £1800, but he saw that this was fully secured by a share interest and he then became the largest share-holder. This ultimately led to trouble, as the aviation business was foreign to him. In desperation I entered into some financial arrangements whereby I was able to buy him out but at a premium of over £1,000 more than he put in. This buying out process is still unfinished and has proved a heavy load to carry for at the same time I have had to provide funds for modern aircraft equipment and, more recently, for aerial survey equipment (for which I believe there is a great future).

At the present time my sister and I are the principal shareholders, but we have a considerable overdraft at our Bank. At the same time our assets have grown considerably but they have only been built up by my only taking out a very moderate salary and running on the strictest economy consistent with efficiency.

At the moment we have a fairly extensive programme of air survey in view and this will take a great deal of financing, for Government Departments do not pay until the job is completed and there are always delays awaiting favourable weather etc. The Bega route is running satisfactorily with the Dragonfly and the Waco, but there are signs of a traffic increase which will become greater when the new aerodrome at Moruya is opened in about three months time, and both my agent at Bega and I doubt very much whether our present equipment will carry the traffic. This means a Dragon Rapide, which is ideal for the route when capacity exceeds our present equipment. What I should like to do shortly after Moruya opens is to put a Rapide on the route and keep the Waco in reserve, using the Dragonfly and our Eagle for aerial survey. I would like to allocate the Dragonfly to aerial survey as most of our jobs are over extremely difficult country where a twin engined machine is advisable, yet it must be economical, and here the Dragonfly fills the bill.

I can quite imagine that there may be some Rapides surplus to requirements when the reorganisation of internal air routes is completed, but my problem is to buy one. I have two alternatives: either to form a separate company and run the South Coast route, thereby obtaining additional capital and possibly at the same time losing my own identity and full power to direct operations, or to endeavour to finance the project myself and the only way in which I can see that this can be done is to follow the early precedent established by Colonel Brinsmead when advances were made to Qantas, Brearley and Larkin to enable them to purchase equipment.

On rough estimates we would require a subsidy of 4d. per mile per daily run to enable us to operate a Rapide on the Bega run with reasonable profit. This would work out at a total annual subsidy of £2,132 on our present annual mileage of 127,920. The service would call at Moruya and Bega. Possibly some arrangement might be entered into with your Board whereby payment for the machine could be made by advances on subsidy payments due. I would much prefer to do this as the control of Adastra would not then pass out of my hands, but of course if I could form a company in which I could still retain a controlling interest and at the same time provide sufficient money to buy a Rapide this would possibly be the better course to pursue. At the moment I am making some private inquiries with the Illawarra & South Coast Steam people, who on a previous occasion expressed themselves as interested in any expansion of the route. It would help me very much indeed if I could get any indication whether in the event of our being able to buy a Rapide (surplus from some present internal route) we would receive additional subsidy, for investors prefer to see some definite prospect of profit rather than trust merely to their faith in the future progress of aviation.

I am fully aware that you would find it difficult to write me on this subject, and if you consider it advisable I will make a special trip to Melbourne for a further discussion.

I need hardly ask you to keep private the particulars regarding our Company, but I really thought you ought to have some authentic information, for wild rumours float around and sometimes give an entirely wrong impression of the true state of affairs."
Johnston Collection
British Klemm BK.1 VH-UTG disposed. A. Arbon
British Klemm L 25c-1 VH-USH disposed. A. Arbon
British Klemm L 25c-1 VH-URZ disposed. A. Arbon
Follett to Johnston: Advising of planned trip abroad by air in July to investigate aerial survey methods and possible co-operation with overseas concerns. Suggestions that Follett make the trip came from abroad. Tentative plans to visit KNILM in Amsterdam and Fairchild in America. Hopes that Johnston can "impress on Mr Corbett the importance of our work." Advises that the Bega route "shows signs of coming into its own" and hopes that "the Department can see its way clear to grant us some additional subsidy for the trips we are doing off our own bat."

NOTE: Up to this point, Follett has usually referred to his activities as "air survey". In this letter he appears to have consistently adopted the term "aerial survey".
Johnston Collection
Johnston to Follett: Welcomes news of overseas trip and looks forward to seeing Follett before he leaves. Johnston Collection
Follett to A.B. Corbett (Director General of Civil Aviation) Telegram requesting an interview in Melbourne "Tuesday afternoon next". Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Referring to visit to Melbourne and telegram to Mr Corbett. Plans to "fly down on the Douglas". Johnston Collection
Corbett to Follett: Letter confirming meeting for Tuesday 20th June at 3 p.m. Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: Refers to press reports that the Department is calling another conference on the aerial mapping of air routes for 7th July. Re-states Adastra's ability to do the work and expresses the view that the job should go to an Australian company. "I have heard that an agent of the American Fairchild Company is more or less sitting on the doorstep down in Melbourne." Also expresses the view that handing the job to the R.A.A.F. would be a mistake "... for survey work must be done by a co-ordinated team working in close co-operation, and the longer they have worked together the better the work they produce. In the R.A.A.F. Bill is on it today and Tom tomorrow, which does not work out satisfactorily."

"Quite apart from all this, I feel that the establishment of Adastra as an expanded aerial survey organisation capable of carrying out all classes of work efficiently and rapidly will be just as much an asset to civil aviation and defence as even a trunk line air route, and, furthermore, it does not ask for subsidy but only for work - and that work is of national benefit."

Follett expects to be abroad for approximately five weeks.
Johnston Collection
Follett to Johnston: (Telegram to Johnston's private address) "Confidential have returned from trip embracing London, Holland, Switzerland, Germany with proposals for immediate amalgamation with Hemmings British Survey Company or alternatively three party company with both British and Dutch. Necessary obtain Government views before acting and have asked Fairbairn for interview but rather worried about American Fairchild activities. Can you suggest any other action I should take as our plans contemplate a completely equipped all Australian permanent organisation." Johnston Collection
DGCA (Corbett) to Follett: Advising that the Minister has directed that the agreement between Adastra and the Commonwealth pertaining to the Bega service will be terminated at close of business on 31DEC39. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Follett to DGCA: Follett refers to his recent tour abroad to study aerial survey methods. Prior to his departure overseas, Follett entered into negotiations with Butler Air Transport with a view to their taking over the Bega service. Negotiations were reopened on Follett's return from overseas but little progress has been made owing to the declaration of war but Butlers are still interested. Follett advises that the declaration of war has affected Adastra's plans to amalgamate with the leading British aerial survey company, the Aircraft Operating Company of Great Britain and South Africa and to establish a complete photogrammetric section. Follett anticipates that it will be necessary to continue with the Bega service to keep staff fully employed. Follett again argues for increased subsidies, stating that Adastra employs four mechanics although only two have been charged to the Bega service. Adastra's Eagle has been held in reserve for the Bega service and has not operated on survey for more than twelve months. The Waco has been released for survey and the Dragonfly operates exclusively on the Bega run. Adastra has had a lean period during the last year and its balance sheet shows a loss on all operations. Follett again stresses the value of the Bega service stating that it has carried many medical cases as well as medical specialists and hospital equipment. The service encouraged the establishment of an aerodrome at Moruya which is now being improved with the expenditure of Defence funds. Adastra pilots carry out coast watching duties at the request of the Naval Board. In view of the stringent period ahead, services have been curtailed to four per week. Follett requests an increased subsidy of three pence per mile on the basis of six return trips each week. The following are some of Adastra's costs submitted with this letter:
Cost price de Havilland Dragonfly £2,650/-/-
Cost price B.A. Eagle £1,600/-/-
Cost price 1 new Gipsy Major engine £350/-/-
Shell Motor Spirit costs:
Mascot - 1/5½ per gallon
Bega - 2/5 per gallon
Vacuum XXL oil costs 5/- per gallon
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Asst DGCA to DGCA: "Arthur Butler rang me on 29th September and advised that Captain Follett had reduced his price for the goodwill of the Sydney-Bega service to £1,000. Butler considered this price reasonable and sought advice as to whether he should purchase. In reply I informed him that it was entirely a matter for decision by his Company, but he must clearly understand that both Follett's and his Company's contracts expired in December and there was no certainty that they would be subsidised thereafter." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Senior Aircraft Inspector (W.L. Ellis) to A/DGCA: A detailed report on Adastra's costs compared with Departmental estimates concludes: "The Company's request for a payment at the rate of 3 pence per mile or £1,627 per annum is considered extremely reasonable for 6 runs per week." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
Adastra (Morrell) to DGCA: In response to a telegram of the same date Adastra forward details of passenger and freight revenue for the past twelve months. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
DGCA (A.B. Corbett) to Follett: The Commonwealth will renew its subsidy agreement with Adastra commencing on 01JAN40. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17



References prefixed "NAA" were sourced from the National Archives of Australia by Chris O'Neill, specifically for the Adastra website project.

References attributed to the "Johnston Collection" comprise
personal correspondence between Frank W. Follett, Managing Director of Adastra Airways and Edgar C. Johnston, Acting Controller of Civil Aviation (later Controller), Department of Defence, Melbourne. This material was also sourced by Chris O'Neill and is quoted thanks to Roger Meyer of the Civil Aviation Historical Society Inc.



Civil Aviation Board
Controller of Civil Aviation
CL Commercial Licence
Department of Civil Aviation
Director-General of Civil Aviation
Johnston Collection The E.C. Johnston Collection in the archive of the Civil Aviation Historical Society Inc. (Box 12)
NAA National Archives of Australia
Regional Director (DCA) New South Wales
SCL Senior Commercial Licence