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CHRONOLOGY 1940 - 1949

Other Decades
1940-1949

 

DATE
REMARKS
SOURCE
1940
05JAN40
Follett to DGCA: Accepting the Commonwealth's terms for the renewal of the subsidy agreement from 01JAN40. Adastra's letter is signed by F. Follett, E. Follett and M. Morrell. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
15JAN40
Confidential internal memo from Capt E.C. Johnston: Johnston spoke to Follett on the telephone on this date and suggested that a reduction in subsidy from 750 to 500 per annum would not be unreasonable. Captain Follett protested strongly on grounds:
(a) The smallness of the amount involved.
(b) The value of the service to the community served.
(c) The fact that he was subsidised for two trips only, had operated six regularly in the past and was still operating four trips per week with extra trips when traffic was offering.
(d) The fact that Adastra pilots were undertaking reconnaissance on behalf of the Navy on each trip (quoting Naval Board correspondence dated 20OCT39)
Johnston had verified the latter claim with the Naval Board who, although they could not place any monetary value on the service, considered it of definite value.
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
22JAN40
DGCA to Follett: (Telegram) Notice that the subsidy agreement "will be determined from close of 30th January" and advising that the Commonwealth is prepared to negotiate an agreement for four returns weekly for a subsidy of approximately 750 per annum. The DGCA requests Adastra's acceptance. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
24JAN40
Follett to DGCA: (Telegram) Adastra is agreeable to the Department's terms. Adastra will operate four return trips weekly on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Depart Mascot 9.00 a.m., arrive Bega 11.00 a.m., Depart Bega 11.15 a.m. arrive Mascot 1.15 p.m. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
05FEB40
Follett to Johnston: Attaching a profit and loss statement which records a loss on the Bega service of 977/3/- after subsidy. (The period to which this loss relates is not immediately apparent). "For some time the loss on the service has been offset by revenue from our aerial survey activities, but since the outbreak of war this phase of our work has declined and is showing a loss. We are now faced with the question of how to continue the Bega service". NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
27FEB40
Follett to DGCA: "We desire to advise you that we have offered our facilities on the Sydney-Bega air service to the Forestry Commissioners of New South Wales, as a bush fire patrol. We are arranging with the Forestry Commission to supply us with a map of the route and a suitable superimposed grid with indexed squares in order that the pilot may accurately locate fires. Arrangements are being made for the pilot to telegraph any necessary information immediately on his arrival in Bega and to further report progress of fires on his return to Sydney... Naturally we are making no charge for our services...We mention this matter to your Department as further evidence of the practical value of the South Coast air route." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
27MAR40
Follett to Johnston: Has been approached by the President of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce with a view to "rescusitation of the Aviation Section". Follett seeks guidance. In an undated reply, Johnston advises that Mr Corbett does not think it necessary or desirable to reform the Chamber of Commerce Aviation Section in view of the Department's intention to have regular conferences with airline executives. Johnston Collection
12APR40
DGCA to Follett: Approving a subsidy of 1,754 per annum. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
27MAY40
Letter on Adastra Airways Pty Ltd letterhead from F.W.Follett, Managing Director to Director of Supply: This company is Australian agent for the Waco Aircraft Co. We can offer "intermediate trainer" type aircraft for the Empire Air Training Scheme. They have two open cockpits, 220 hp Jacobs, Continental or Lycoming engines. Reply from Director of Supply on 28JUN40: "The Department of Air does not desire to obtain any of this type of aircraft at present." NAA via Goodall
10JUN40

Follett to DGCA: Requesting approval of a six day per week Bega service to the following schedule to be effective from 17JUN40.

Depart Mascot
9
a.m.
Arrive Moruya
10.20
a.m.
Depart Moruya
10.30
a.m.
Arrive Bega
11.10
a.m.
Depart Bega
11.30
a.m.
Arrive Moruya
12.00
p.m.
Depart Moruya
12.10
p.m.
Arrive Mascot
1.30
p.m.

Moruya landings are on demand. Follett expresses concern that the Moruya aerodrome, which was constructed at Adastra's instigation, might not be available to Adastra now that the aerodrome is to be used for military purposes. A hand-written margin note states: "Landing ground is O.K."
NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
26JUN40
Follett to DGCA: "We wish to advise that we have appointed a full-time Accountant to our staff, as from June 18th last, at a commencing salary of 5/10/- per week." Follett hopes that this will result in closer supervision of expenditure and requests that Adastra be permitted to charge half of the Accountant's salary against the expenses of the Bega service. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
16JUL40
DGCA to Adastra: Subsidy on Sydney-Bega route will be discontinued from 28JUL40. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
16JUL40
DGCA to Follett: In response to a telegram of protest from Follett, Corbett advises that the subsidy must be discontinued because of the war effort. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
24JUL40
Follett to DGCA: "As it is quite impossible for us to carry on this service without subsidy we desire to advise that the service will cease operation on Saturday next, July 27, 1940. In view of the possibility of its reopening at some later date when times are better, we shall be glad if the licence for this route could be vested in this Company." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
09AUG40
DGCA to Follett: Acknowledges termination of service and advises "the Department cannot undertake to refuse a licence to operate this route to some other Company should such Company offer to operate the Service without subsidy." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
12AUG40
Follett to DGCA: (Telegram) "Desire advise reopening Bega service Monday next 19th daily as before employing reserve machine Eagle VHUUY. Hope minimise loss by employing economical machine and most anxious keep faith with former patrons who assure me of support regard this as war emergency measure pending better times. Dragonfly will be employed on survey work." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
12AUG40
Follett to Minister for Air (J.V. Fairbairn): Repeating contents of telegram of the same date to the DGCA. Advises that the Dragonfly is being modified for aerial survey work. Adastra are presently carrying out work formerly executed by the RAAF on behalf of the Northern Territory Survey Committee. "We have recently moved into premises adjacent to the Aerodrome (opposite the new Beaufort factories)." Follett invites the Minister to inspect Adastra's aerial survey and photographic operation. The letterhead shows the Derwent House address crossed out and is stamped with the new Lords Road address at Mascot. NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
26AUG40
DGCA to Follett: "Owing to the untimely death of the Hon. J.V. Fairbairn, I desire to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 12th August 1940." (J.V. Fairbairn, Minister for Air, was killed in the crash of RAAF Hudson A16-97 at Canberra on 13AUG40). NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
01NOV40
Follett to DGCA: "We have been asked to engage in urgent oil search surveys over terrain requiring the use of twin engined aircraft. Negotiations have therefore been conducted between this Company and Butler Air Transport Service with, we believe, your Department's knowledge, for the transfer of the (Bega) service to the latter Company ... It is with much regret that Adastra relinquishes the Bega route, which we have operated for more than six years without the slightest injury to passengers or personnel. But we feel that the Butler Air Transport Service is in a more advantageous position than we for the operation of the run and we have extended to them our very best wishes for their success. May we also take this opportunity of thanking you and your officers for their valued help over the past years. We have been engaged in civil aviation for more than ten years now, and in handing over our former airline and engaging almost exclusively in aerial survey and aerial photography we are entering into the very latest phase of aviation and we look forward to a stable and successful future. We are particularly pleased that in our newsphere we are playing a most important part in national development. We would again repeat our invitation to any of your officers to inspect our photographic laboratories adjacent to Mascot Aerodrome, where we are sure they will see work of tremendous interest to them. This side of civil aviation is as yet comparatively unknown, but we are quite confident of its future". NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
11NOV40
Butler Air Transport took over the Sydney - Bega route from Adastra. G. Goodall
15NOV40
DGCA (Corbett) to Follett: "The fact that it has been necessary for your Company to relinquish a service which it pioneered and successfully maintained for so many years without accident to either passengers or personnel is noted with regret, but I feel sure that the phase of aerial work your Company has undertaken will continue with success. I appreciate your reference to the assistance rendered by officers of my Department to your Company and also the invitation extended to inspect your laboratories at Mascot which I am sure will be availed of as opportunity offers." NAA MP131/1 192/111/17
1941
25NOV41
B.A. Eagle Mk II VH-UUY disposed. A. Arbon
1942
11MAR42
Minute Paper by E. Pyke of DCA: Refers to a meeting held in Craig's Building, Swanston Street, Melbourne on 09MAR42 at the request of the Survey Corps. Present were Lt Col Vance, Major Behan, Mr Kershaw (Contracts Board), Mr F.W. Follett of Adastra Airways and Mr E Pyke (DCA). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the provision of aerial photographs to facilitate the work of the Survey Corps given that the RAAF was too busy to undertake the task. The immediate task involves 31,500 square miles spread over four States. Follett advised the meeting that he has two aircraft fitted for photography, a Waco and a Dragonfly. His cameras include:
Two Eagle IV with lenses of 30", 20", 14", 10" (2 off), 8" (2 off) focal length.
One Eagle III with lenses of 10", 8" and 5" focal length.
Two P.14 cameras for oblique shots.
The Eagle IV takes pictures 18 x 24 cm (about 7" x 9") and uses film giving about 155 exposures per roll.
Follett estimated that, using two aircraft and the Eagle IV cameras, he could cover 400 square miles in a day and would suggest two photographic days per week as a reasonable average for Australia (104 per annum). He would try to keep tilt down to 1 degree but would like any contract to allow a tolerance of 3 degrees. The altitude limit for his aircraft is 13,000 feet above sea level and he prefers not to be asked to go above 12,000 feet. Both aircraft are equipped with oxygen. Follett requested that the permissible time for taking photographs be extended from 2 hours to 2 hours before and after noon. The following prices were quoted:
New South Wales: (any part) 30/- per square mile.
Victoria: (any part) 32/6 per square mile.
These prices include negatives and two prints and any re-flying necessary.
Pyke comments that a contract will probably be let on the basis of 20,000 square miles. At 400 square miles per day with two cameras and assuming 75 photography days per annum, this would take about 8 months to carry out (equivalent to 30,000 square miles per annum). An area of 20,000 square miles would use up about 300 rolls of film using the Eagle IV and flying at 12,000 feet above sea level and using overlaps of 60% fore and aft and 25% lateral.
Pyke concludes the minute paper: "In view of possible danger to his pilots from action by our anti-aircraft guns, I suggested that action be taken to grant the contractor the use of R.A.A.F. markings while on this work. I have already telephoned to the Director of Air Intelligence who sees merit in the suggestion and who will conduct necessary enquiries and advise the Director of Surveys of the result." (This proposal is not mentioned again in this file, but there is photographic evidence that the Dragonfly VH-AAD was camouflaged and that it carried fin flashes in addition to its civilian registration. Ed.)
NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
14MAR42

Follett to Contracts Board, Melbourne: Submitting quotations for the following surveys:
(a) 13,000 square miles in Queensland at 32/6 per square mile.
(b) 5,000 square miles in New South Wales at 30/- per square mile.
(c) 8,000 square miles in Victoria at 32/6 per square mile.
These prices include supply of original negatives plus two sets of contact prints on double weight paper. Follett advises that the matter of war risk insurance is still under study by Adastra's insurance broker.

NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
30MAR42
Letter from K. Washington Gray, Chief Geologist, Australasian Petroleum Company to DCA: In response to DCA's request of same date, forwarding copies of:
(1) Letter of agreement regarding air survey to be carried out by Adastra Airways for Oriomo Oil Ltd.
(2) Agreement "... regarding air surveys in Papua and M.T.N.G. made between D'Arcy Exploration Company of London and KNILM (per KNILM-Fairchild joint organisation) together with map showing area to be covered, agreement regarding substitution of Fairchild for KNILM ..."
It is stated that the survey covered just under 30,000 square miles and took almost exactly a year although at one time three aircraft were involved simultaneously.
NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
03APR42
Dept of Supply and Development to DGCA: Requesting the DCA to handle the survey contract and asking for urgent attention as the Army have already asked Adastra to proceed. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
04APR42
Dept of Supply and Development to CCA: Requesting DCA to handle the survey contract as the DSD has "no experience in arranging for contracts of this type." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
08APR42
Minute Paper from E. Pyke (DCA) to CIGO: "After further calculations extending to midnight last night, I see no reason to change my estimate of the contractor's costs as 25,000 for 32,000 square miles done in 365 days. Allowing 2,000 profit on this (about 8%) the payment would be 27,000, to be expressed as 17/- per square mile. Done in 5 months the price to us should be 12/- per square mile, and done in 18 months the price to us should be 21/- per square mile, with Adastra's profit ranging from about 28% for the quick job to about 4% for the long-term one." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
13MAY42
Follett to DGCA: Regarding the main headings of the proposed contract, most of which are acceptable to Adastra.
"The instrument panel on the modern Williamson 'Eagle' IV camera shows the following data:
a. Altitude
b. Clock
c. Serial number of photograph
d. Data tablet on which is inscribed by the photographer before photography Focal length of lens, Date, Area Reference.
The north point used to be included on the instrument panels of the older type of cameras not employing electrical operation. We experimented with this but found that the electrical field interfered with the magnetic needle and gave incorrect readings. A circular spirit bubble was also included in the older type of cameras, but this type of bubble is never correct and its use has been discontinued. Run number could not be included on individual film negatives, as a considerable number of runs may be taken on each film loading of a magazine. North point and run number, if required, can be applied by the field unit when the first set of prints is delivered to them for checking. The second set of prints can be similarly treated after final key diagrams are received at Head office from the field units. We therefore suggest that for the present this clause be altered to delete north point and run number, also circular spirit level, and that the matter be left to arrangement between the Director of Surveys, Department of the Army, and this Company. We will naturally endeavour to meet his wishes in every respect."
Elsewhere in this five-page letter, Follett discusses the finer points of the contract and requests several other changes.
NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
22MAY42
DGCA to Follett: The Department agrees to most of the changes requested by Follett. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
03JUN42
Follett to DGCA: Refers to a telegram received on Sunday 31MAY42 from Director of Surveys, Melbourne instructing Adastra to proceed with the aerial survey of areas on the North Coast of NSW. Follett advises that the initial base will be Coolangatta, with the next base probably South Grafton and requests letters of authority to be issued to pilots. Adastra will liaise with the Army "so that anti-aircraft batteries will be advised". Initial personnel will be:
Waco VH-UYD - Pilot Norman W. Rodoni, Photographer Peter V. Payens.
Dragonfly VH-AAD - Pilot William E. Clarke, Photographer C.A. Robinson.
Follett requests a military guard for aircraft where available. "We are now engaged in preparations for an early departure from Mascot".
NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
08JUN42
DGCA to Follett: Advising that the Department of the Army have placed an order with Kodak, Melbourne for 400 rolls of Eagle IV Aero Film, 150 rolls to be made available ex Kodak, Sydney and 250 rolls ex Kodak, Brisbane. Twenty rolls are available for immediate delivery ex Sydney. Advises that the matter of military guard for aircraft should be discussed directly with the officer in charge of the guard, using the requested letter of authority which is enclosed with this letter. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
08JUN42
DGCA to Director of Survey, Dept of the Army: "It is to be noted that the date of commencement of the contract is 28th May, 1942, on which date the Company accepted the contract conditions." The DGCA requests a map showing the areas to be surveyed and requests that he be kept informed of any variations. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
10JUN42
Director of Survey, Dept of the Army to DGCA: Forwarding the requested map. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
11JUN42
Follett to DGCA: Adastra have contacted the Railway authorities regarding the despatch of their freight from Coolangatta and Grafton to Sydney. Follett expresses concern over delays with telegrams and requests priority. Follett states that he has waited for more than 12 hours for an interstate telephone connection. "The two units will be leaving for Coolangatta early next week." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
19AUG42
An internal DCA report on Adastra's survey contract states that Adastra have 10 staff engaged on manufacturing and/or servicing work. They include; 1 Foreman, 4 Turners and Fitters, 1 Storeman and Inspector, 2 Juniors and 2 Females. The work carried out is said to include the manufacture of Vickers Gun parts and the reconditioning of carburettors for de Havilland Pty. Ltd. Workshop equipment is said to include; 1 lathe, 1 drill, 1 grinder and small tools for Adastra's own aircraft. The following additional equipment is held; 3 lathes, 2 drills, 2 grinders, 1 milling machine, 1 shaping machine and 1 power hacksaw. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
01SEP42
District Supt DCA Mascot to DGCA: "Adastra expect their Dragonfly VH-AAD with Pilot Clarke to transfer from Coolangatta to Coffs Harbour either to-day or to-morrow, 1st or 2nd September. Aerial photography will be carried out from Coffs Harbour for the next month or so." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
09SEP42
Follett to DGCA: Refers to a letter from the DGCA rejecting Adastra's claim that the cost (274) of reconditioning the Dragonfly VH-AAD should be charged against the survey contract. "... as the Dragonfly aircraft was reconditioned wholly and solely for the purpose of this contract. It was the Company's intention to sell this machine and a highly satisfactory offer was actually made for it as it stood. It was, however, withdrawn from sale owing to this contract." Follett continues to protest other expenses which have been challenged or disallowed. "As matters stand at present we feel very chary of incurring what we would regard as normal legitimate expenditure to further the expeditious and efficient carrying out of this survey for fear that at some later date your Department will disallow this expenditure. At the present moment this Company has disbursed over 3000 in connection with this survey and has not yet received a penny in return." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
14SEP42
Follett to DGCA: In response to the DGCA's letter of 12SEP42 Adastra advise that aero film issued to them by the Commonwealth is held covered by several policies with Lloyd's of London. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
19SEP42
DGCA to Follett: Disallowing the 274 claimed on the reconditioning of the Dragonfly. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
28SEP42
Director of Survey, Dept of Army to DGCA: Refers to correspondence from the Board of Business Administration which quotes the minutes of a meeting held on 31MAR42 to discuss the survey contract. The Board recommends: "that consideration be given to impressing the necessary machines in order that they may be manned by Service Personnel." The Director of Survey states: "In view of the conditions now prevailing and the controls over costing and profit it is desired to know whether any advantage would result in taking over a company which is carrying out a task so efficiently." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
02OCT42
DGCA to Director of Survey, Dept of Army: "This Department has no information that would indicate there would be any advantage in the taking over of this Contract by the Services." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
08OCT42
Follett to DGCA: Continues to challenge the Department's rejection of many expenses incurred in connection with the survey contract. "I might mention that this Company has already financed the contract to the extent of some 4000 and has only today received its first progress payment of one-quarter of this amount. In spite of the fact that our Company has been forced into heavy bank overdraft entirely on account of this survey, your accountant has disallowed interest on the overdraft - though it is undoubtedly a legitimate charge against the survey." Follett further challenges the rejection of expenses associated with the reconditioning of the Dragonfly. "This is one matter on whcih we consider we are being most unfairly treated, as the money has actually been paid out and we fully expect to be reimbursed." On the question of costs being apportioned over all of Adastra's operations Follett continues: "I have previously insisted that this survey must be regarded as an entity and must be completely divorced from any other activity. Should our other activities - which at the moment comprise only a small engineering section - meet with bad times, as at present obtains due to lack of work, is it your intention that the survey should help it out of its difficulties as you now propose it should assist the survey?" NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
26OCT42
DGCA to Follett: A mollifying letter again rejects the claims on the Dragonfly and the interest on the bank overdraft. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
29OCT42
Director of Survey, Dept of the Army to DGCA: The following areas are to be added to the contract:
Authorised on 12JUN42:
Mt Lindsay, Borralbo, Tabulam and Alice.
Authorised on 22SEP42:
Port Macquarie, Kempsey, Bellbrook, Korogoro, Trial Bay, Bowra and Nambucca.
"A satisfactory report has been received on 80 square miles in Murwillumbah and 523 square miles in Nimbin."
NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
30OCT42
Director of Survey, Dept of the Army to DGCA: The following areas are to be added to the contract:
Maclean area
Brushgrove Area.
NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
08NOV42
DCA Sydney to DGCA: In response to a telegram asking how long Adastra expect to be operating from Coffs Harbour, DCA Sydney advise that both aircraft are now operating from Kempsey indefinitely. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
23NOV42
Follett to DGCA: A highly indignant and strongly worded four-page letter again challenges the Department's interpretations of Adastra's costs. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
11DEC42

A Minute Paper by CIGO DCA: Reports on a visit to Adastra's field unit at Kempsey on 02DEC42. The unit comprised:
W.E. Clark, pilot of Dragonfly VH-AAD
J. Bowden, pilot of Waco VH-UYD
P.V. Payens, photographer
V.C. Kellaher, photographer
Mr Follett was also visiting at the time of the inspection. The unit transferred from Coolangatta to Coffs Harbour on 01SEP42 and from Coffs Harbour to Kempsey on 31OCT42. Pilot Bowden joined the company on 16SEP42 and arrived at Coffs Harbour on 26SEP42. Mr Follett advised that he had been given preliminary advice that the following areas were to be photographed:
Woolgoolga, Wingham, Comboyne and Cowarral.
These would probably be followed by:
Mooraback, Dorrigo, Glenreagh and Nymboida.
Since the contract started, suitable photographic weather approximates two days out of seven.
"Adastra personnel are transported per Pilot Bowden's car (Austin 6/16) for which he is paid 6d per mile."

NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
1943
05JAN43
District Supt. DCA Sydney to DGCA: Adastra propose to move their two machines from Kempsey to Tamworth on 07JAN43. Captain Follett requests that RAAF be notified that he desires to operate from the aerodrome at Tamworth. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
09JAN43
Follett to DGCA: "This Company is not in a very happy position financially as regards the survey and unless a miracle happens regarding weather we see little chance of improvement in the position on the present basis of progress payments." Follett advises that the Kempsey units have experienced no photographic weather whatsoever in the past month. Consequently they have been moved to Tamworth in the hope of better weather over the tablelands. Follett advises that the last Army payment to Adastra was on 29OCT42 although a small payment of 112 had been received at the start of December. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
06MAY43
Follett to DGCA: Adastra are agreeable to the inclusion of a "break clause" in the contract as they would not be expecting to operate in any area attacked by hostile forces. Follett advises that "we are faced with extensive and costly repairs and overhauls to aircraft due to the very severe climatic conditions encountered in the open field over the past eight months". Follett advises that the relocation to Tamworth has been justified by favourable weather. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
20JUL43
Follett to DGCA: Refers to the sudden resignation of Pilot J.H. Bowden and Adastra's inability to replace him. The Waco is currently laid up for its annual CofA. At the same time the Dragonfly had to be withdrawn for CofA and it was found to require considerably more repair than was anticipated. Work was contracted to W.R. Carpenter & Co but owing to a lack of skilled labour the repairs were taking longer than planned. To expedite the work part of the wing repairs were taken over by de Havilland and Adastra's own engineers also participated. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
09SEP43
Follett to DGCA: Again requesting payment from the Army as company is "exceedingly hard pressed for funds". NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
10NOV43
Follett to F.M. Forde, Minister for the Army: Adastra are now approaching completion of the 20,000 square mile area originally contracted for. Follett seeks additional survey work on behalf of the Army. "It has of course come somewhat as a shock to learn that our services will shortly no longer be required." With the availability of Lend-Lease equipment the RAAF has been able to rehabilitate its survey unit. "Also, under the terms of the original contract the Commonwealth was to supply us free of charge all aero films, but under the new arrangement we are to bear the cost of this, retrospective to commencement of the contract. We understand that the cost to us will be at commercial rates whereas the Commonwealth has secured the film at a much reduced figure and will show a considerable saving from this source." Follett advises that the Adastra unit currently at Grafton has had only two or three flying days in the last six to eight weeks. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
26NOV43
E.C. Johnston (for DGCA) to Director of Survey, Dept of the Army: Supporting Adastra's claim for further work. "This Company has built up a sound organisation for this specialised work and has produced very good results." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
1944
17JAN44
Follett to Army Survey Directorate: "We note that we have been debited with an amount of 3,453/16/9, representing cost of 246 rolls of aero film at 16 per roll, less 10%, less 2%. We understand that the price charged to the Government by Kodak (Australasia) Pty Ltd was approximately 5 per roll. The difference between the price the Government has paid and that which has been charged to this Company represents an amount of approximately 2,223, which is obviously clear profit to the Government". Follett suggests: "that the amount which the Government has acquired by way of profit on aero films might be allocated to the survey of an additional area of, say, 1500 square miles". NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
21FEB44
Survey Directorate, Dept of Army to DGCA: Although the original conference discussed a survey of 30,000 square miles, the contract provided for 20,000 square miles with the Commonwealth retaining the discretionary right to increase this coverage. "The Commonwealth has decided to determine the Contract at 20,000 square miles". The film prices quoted by Adastra are correct. When the contract began, the Army purchased the film directly from Kodak so Adastra were not involved. NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
26APR44
Follett to DGCA: Acknowledging the DGCA's letter of 11MAR44 advising that the Army are unable to agree to Adastra's request for an increase in the area to be photographed. "... we desire to record our protest against the price that has been charged us for film in this particular instance. This Company is in effect the purchaser from Messrs. Kodak but has been denied the opportunity of negotiating a special price, which privilege the Commonwealth itself has actually exercised. We do not consider that the Commonwealth can legitimately charge us a price for film which we understand is approximately 200% greater than the actual purchase price. We shall be glad therefore if you will consider a revision of the charge for the supply of films, and we await the favour of your early reply." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
15MAY44
DGCA to Adastra (written by Gordon Berg, Senior Inspector of Aircraft, Mascot on behalf of DGCA): Advising that it will be necessary to establish a maximum permissible take-off weight for Anson VH-AGG prior to issue of CofA. An approximate all-up weight of 7,500 pounds is proposed but Adastra are requested to provide the following:
(a) Weights and location of military equipment and structure removed from the aircraft.
(b) Weights and location of equipment such as cameras which Adastra propose to instal.
(c) Crew to be carried on air survey operations.
(d) Locality over which survey is to be conducted.
(e) Intended normal duration of flight.
NAA MP113/1 VH/AGG
20MAY44
DGCA to Follett: Advising that the film price charged by the Army was based on the inclusive contract rate supplied by Adastra and the estimated film cost contemplated by the company. "Moreover, the price charged by Army is that which, Kodak advised that Department, would have been charged by Kodak to your Company." NAA MP203/1 165/102/96
1945
07JUN45
Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD disposed. A. Arbon
18SEP45
Follett to DCA (Telegram): Vital that DCA allow an all-up weight of approximately 8500 pounds for Anson VH-AGG. This figure coincides with RAAF documentation handed to Adastra with the purchase of their first Anson. Adastra request an urgent reply as they are considering the purchase of additional Ansons to standardise their fleet on the type. NAA MP113/1 VH/AGG
21SEP45
Internal DCA memo: "No variation of 7,500 lbs. until complete results of the Laverton tests are available". A hand-written note on this memo indicates that Messrs Haines and Linfoot of Adastra called at DCA, Melbourne on 24SEP45 while they were en route to Bairnsdale to collect a further Anson. Haines and Linfoot were advised that the 7,500 pound limit cannot be varied pending results of tests by the Aircraft Performance Unit at Laverton. "This means that Adastra cannot operate the survey job for which the Anson was purchased and they are limited to using the DH90". NAA MP113/1 VH/AGG
10OCT45
Internal DCA memo by W. Devan Doble, Aeronautical Engineer: Recently visited Sydney for tests on Anson VH-AGG. Camera installation appears quite satisfactory from strength considerations but may be too heavy which probably explains the high empty weight of VH-AGG. Mr Follett advised that he preferred not to have VH-AGG tested for single engine performance but would rather await the results of tests at 1APU Laverton. The writer expects that VH-AGG would have a superior performance to the aeroplane being tested at Laverton as it has been cleaned up during the aerial survey modification. Adastra's program has been interrupted by the resignation of one of their photographers. VH-AGG was not test flown but Mr Follett stated that he would be only too happy to have the tests done on his second Anson currently undergoing conversion. NAA MP113/1 VH/AGG
11OCT45
Follett to DCA (Telegram): "Reference Anson total loaded weight 7500 lbs completely useless our operations and brings our survey work with Victorian Government to standstill. Totally at variance with RAAF figures supplied when machine purchased. We do not require single engine performance. Matter was fully discussed with Berg. Request 8200 lbs survey work only pending RAAF tests. Machine must leave for Victoria this week as urgent survey work awaiting its arrival. Would point out any decision relating our operations in no way affects passenger carrying aircraft. Reply urgent". NAA MP113/1 VH/AGG
15OCT45
Follett to DCA (Telegram): Adastra incurring heavy standby charges and will have to default Victorian Government contract unless allowed to operate the Anson at 8,200 pounds. States that Ansons were only purchased after advice from DCA and RAAF. Failure to gain approval of 8,200 pounds will result in complete cessation of all air survey activities. Follett suggests that DCA conduct tests and emphasises extreme urgency. NAA MP113/1 VH/AGG
15OCT45
Internal DCA memo A/DANS (Wiggins) to A/DGCA: "This is the story of the purchase of an unsuitable aircraft in the first instance. ... Follett asked for permission to operate at 8,400 lbs., but the wing structure is only good for 8,200 lbs., and the single engine performance is poor at this figure. Follett now asks for permission to operate at 8,200 lbs. and uses as an argument, regarding the single engine performance, that he is not engaged in airline transport operations. Naturally the standard of performance for aerial work aircraft can be lowered, having regard to the particular work being performed. In Follett's case he will have a pilot and two photographers on board and will be operating over all types of country from good to very bad. It is, therefore, not considered advisable to permit him to operate his aircraft at loadings which will create unnecessary hazards".
A hand-written note, apparently by E.C. Johnston and dated 19OCT45 states:
"It appears that, at 8,200 lbs the Anson meets strength requirements and has a single engine performance comparable to that of the Electras which are currently authorised for airline use. It would be only reasonable to authorise for air survey work that loading until further notice. Company to be informed accordingly".
NAA MP113/1 VH/AGG
10OCT45
DGCA to DCA Sydney (Telegram): "Advise Adastra urgently approval granted operation Anson VH-AGG on survey work at all up weight 8200 pounds". NAA MP113/1 VH/AGG
22OCT45
Anson VH-AGG registered to Adastra Airways. G. Goodall
1946
29JAN46
Anson VH-AGO registered to Adastra Airways. G. Goodall
21OCT46
Follett to Minister for Air (A.S. Drakeford): Advises that in early 1945 Adastra were awarded a contract by the Victorian Government to survey some 60,000 square miles of that state. A condition of the contract was the use of two large cameras in each aircraft. An approach to the Air Board resulted in an Avro Anson being made available to Adastra on a hire purchase basis for 4815. At that time Ansons had not yet been put up for disposal so the price was determined by a committee appointed by the RAAF and the DCA. Adastra protested strongly at what they considered an excessive price but could secure no reduction. "Since then, however, the position has changed very considerably. Many R.A.A.F. Ansons have been declared surplus and have been sold at varying figures. This Company itself purchased a second Anson for 1000 and later a third for 500, while it was recently offered four machines at a price of 400 each. Under the Hire Purchase Agreement we have actually paid two instalmants for the first Anson, totalling 2438/6/8, leaving a balance of 2376/13/4 still to be met. The disparity between the valuation of 4815 and the later sales at 500 is obviously entirely out of proportion". Follett advises that the company was out of work at the time of the Victorian contract and accordingly tendered an exceedingly low figure to keep the company in business. "At no time in our estimates was a figure of nearly 5000 allowed for the purchase of an Anson". Follett advises that the company has shown a heavy loss for the past financial year owing to bad luck with the weather and indicates difficulty at making a further payment on the Anson. He states that Adastra have spent up to 1000 converting each Anson for aerial survey. Follett states that the Anson was purchased on the "specific recommendations by the Air Board". Follett proposes one more final payment of 500 which would make a total of 2938 paid for the Anson which he suggests is more than reasonable. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
23OCT46
Minister for Air to Follett: Advising that he will examine the matter and revert. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
06NOV46
Follett to Minister for Air: Acknowledging the Minister's letter and stating that Adastra are not trying to avoid their responsibilities but are seeking consideration in the light of subsequent events. The transfer of Anson MG796 to Adastra was rushed through because of the urgency of the Victorian contract. At the time it was common knowledge that the RAAF would shortly submit Ansons in bulk for disposal. Follett states that Adastra have recently received a communication from the Commonwealth Disposals Commission offering Ansons for 250 each with a reduction for five or more aircraft. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
15NOV46
Follett to Minister for Civil Aviation (A.S. Drakeford): Acknowledging a letter from the Minister dated 12NOV46 and expressing gratitude that the Minister has given the matter further consideration. Follett states that one of the first surplus Ansons to pass through the Commonwealth Disposals Commission sales was sold to the Portuguese Government for 1000 which is one fifth the price levied on Adastra. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
22NOV46
Follett to Minister for Civil Aviation: Advising that Adastra have received this day a demand from the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor for 1188/6/8 as a payment for Anson MG796. Legal proceedings are threatened after 14 days. Follett requests a reply to his earlier representations. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
29NOV46
Memo DGCA (R. Williams) to the Minister for Civil Aviation: "During November, 1944, the Company requested this Department to negotiate with the R.A.A.F. for the loan or purchase of Avro Anson aircraft for use by the Company on Aerial Survey work. This request was sponsored by this Department to the R.A.A.F., and in December, 1944, R.A.A.F. advised that two Ansons would be made available through the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. In February, 1945, the Company advised this Department that it desired to take advantage of the R.A.A.F. offer of an Anson at approximately 5,000, and desired to pay 1,000 deposit and the balance over three years. This Department asked the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to consider this offer by the Company, and the Commission approved the sale at 4,815, which was the value placed on the aircraft (Anson MG796) by a valuation committee comprising officers of the R.A.A.F. and this Department. Terms of sale were 1,250 deposit and subsequent instalments of not less than 1,250 each eight months. In May, 1945, the Company decided to purchase the second Anson (MG162), and this aircraft was sold to the Company by the Commission for the sum of 1,000". NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
27DEC46
Follett to the Minister: Acknowledges the Minister's letter of 04DEC46 advising that he is unable to recommend any action on the sale of Anson MG796. Follett again protests strongly and states that he will be advising the CDC of his intention to return the aircraft. Adastra will retain the aircraft in accordance with the previous offer of 500 as a final payment. Follett states that the Dept of Air had recommended to the CDC the sale of a large quantity of Anson and Cheetah spares to Adastra for 50 but the CDC had not acted on this recommendation and Adastra had already paid 241 for only portions of the parts originally offered. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
1947
xxxxx47
Report that Adastra Airways Pty Ltd associated companies are:
Hunting Aerosurveys Ltd, London
Aircraft Operating Co, South Africa
N.Z. Aerial Mapping Ltd, New Zealand
Photographic Survey Co, Canada
G. Goodall
09JAN47
Anson VH-AVT registered to Adastra Airways. G. Goodall
15JAN47
Minister for Civil Aviation to Follett: Advising that the sale of Anson MG796 is similar to any other commercial transaction where the price of goods drops drastically as a result of altered circumstances. The Minister judges that if Adastra's financial difficulties are a result of bad weather, the company should ask the Victorian Government to renegotiate the contract. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
15JAN47
Follett to the Minister: Restates his case as a matter of urgency as the CDC are threatening legal action. Follett states again that the company's current work is of national importance, covering three-quarters of Victoria and including urgent Soldier Settlement projects. Follett also protests that the Anson has been drastically depreciated as a result of the CDC selling Ansons for 1000 so soon after MG796 was sold to Adastra for nearly five times that price. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
20JAN47
Follett to the Minister: Responds to the Minister's letter of 15JAN47. Follett advises that at the time the Victorian contract was negotiated only 500 was allowed for a new aircraft. Follett was astonished when confronted with a figure of 5000 some time later. Follett states that he does not expect any help from the Victorian Government. Follett advises that he is due to leave for London on 28JAN47 to "attend an important air survey conference of British Empire representatives" and requests that any legal action be deferred until after his return on 14MAR47 as none of his deputies are fully conversant with the details of the transaction. Follett also seeks to invoke the provisions of the Hire Purchase Agreements Act 1941 to have the transaction reopened. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
07FEB47
Minister for Civil Aviation to Follett: "I am unable to agree, under the circumstances, that any injustice has been done to you, nor am I convinced that good grounds have been advanced to vary the decision. I will, however, have the matter further examined in the light of your most recent representations". NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
10FEB47
The Hunting Aero Surveys Group Conference began in the U.K.
"Important Dominion representatives are visiting Great Britain for a World Air Survey Conference. Those present include the managing directors of all the Dominion companies in the Hunting Group, to prove that private initiative in this sphere is very much alive, and include:

H.P. Van Asch, New Zealand Aerial Mapping Ltd.
Col. C.R. Robbins, Aircraft Operating Company of Africa.
F.W. Follett, Adastra Airways of Australia.
D.N. Kendall, Photographic Survey Company of Canada;
all of whom arrived in this country by air.

"Distinguished persons from the aviation, photographic and industrial world will meet the visitors during their stay in this country. A carefully arranged programme of visits, entertainment, etc., is being introduced between breaks in the ten-day conference period. Some of the more important items are quoted here below.

Feb. 10 Visit to Aerial Survey Exhibition at Elstree.
Feb. 11 Visit to Williamson Works at Willesden.
Feb. 14 Visit to Ordnance Survey at Chessington.
Feb. 15 Visit to the Percival Aircraft Co. Ltd., Luton Airports, Beds. Display of aircraft and equipment at Luton Airport, contributors include six leading aircraft manufacturing companies.
Feb. 17 Visit to Directorate of Colonial Survey at Kingston on Thames and General Survey Dept., War Office.
Feb. 19 Visit to Royal Aeronautical Establishment at Farnborough."
Feb. 21 The Conference was due to conclude.
"Air Transport" FEB47 p.9
Contributed by David Vincent.
24MAR47
Minister for Civil Aviation to Follett: The Minister advises that he can find no reasons to depart from earlier decisions. The matter of deferment of legal action is for the CDC to decide. The Minister argues that the price of 4,815 for Anson MG796 was accepted by Adastra in February 1945 although the aircraft had been made available in December 1944. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
25SEP47
Follett to W. Howie, General Manager, CDC: "I would refer to my Interview with you In Melbourne on 17th. instant relative to the Hire Purchase of Avro Anson MG796. In the course of our discussion you were good enough to suggest that if I were to bring forward further aspects of the matter you would be willing to re-open our case with your Commission. It was further suggested that I might be able to secure some comment from Captain E. C. Johnston, the sponsoring authority on behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation. With this latter object In view I have today forwarded direct to Captain Johnston a copy of this letter with a request that he forward the copy on to you together with any comments he may care to make; and I shall be grateful therefore if you would await Captain Johnston's communication before taking any further action. Firstly, I should like to place before you one or two facts relating to my Company. We commenced operations in 1930 in an exceedingly modest way as a private flying school. It later embraced all phases of operational flying, including charter flying and a small service to Bega on the South Coast of New South Wales. Later we entered the field of aerial survey, being actually the Australian pioneers of this aviation activity in a private capacity. We were the only aviation company in this State to weather the depression period and apart from a small subsidy received from the Government in connection with the air route to Bega we have received no financial assistance. Our air survey activities have been conducted entirely from our own resources and have been built up into an organisation that is well and favourably known throughout Australia. We have carried out work for almost all State and Commonwealth Departments and have surveyed in all the Eastern States, Tasmania, South Australia, Central Australia, Northern Territory and in New Guinea. Some years ago we relinquished entirely all other activities and concentrated on aerial survey because we realised that the nature of the work demanded specialist attention and concentration. The work is of great national importance, but in confining our activities exclusively to aerial survey we were investing our funds in specialised equipment that had no other use. Its national importance however, was amply demonstrated during the last war when at short notice we were asked by the Army to undertake air survey formerly carried out by the R.A.A.F., who at that time were hard pressed for equipment and personnel because of the Japanese menace. While engaged on this work we surveyed some 20,000 square miles for the Army. At the conclusion of hostilities we were faced with a very lean period, for Government Departments were not in a position to offer us work; but we kept our organisation in being at great expense, feeling sure that this very important work would sooner or later be proceeded with. It was in this period that a contract to survey approximately three-quarters of the State of Victoria came into the picture. I am sure you will fully appreciate that it was of vital importance to this Company to secure this contract but we found that we were faced with a competitor - a Melbourne firm that had not previously engaged in aerial survey but who proposed to do so should they secure the Victorian contract, purchasing aircraft and photographic equipment to do the job when allotted to them. We were given to understand that this concern also was to be favoured with powerful American backing. The circumstances were such that we had to cut our price to a dangerously low limit. We did, however, secure the contract. Our contract with the Victorian Government was based on the use of aircraft equipment then in our possession - a twin engined Dragonfly and a single engined Waco. The Victorian authorities however, super-imposed upon the original contract requirements necessitating the installation of two air survey cameras in each aircraft, and we found that this installation was impossible in our single engined Waco. I was in Melbourne to conduct negotiations for the contract and in visiting Captain Burgess of the Department of Civil Aviation I learned that our competitors had secured approval from the R.A.A.F. for the transfer of two Anson aircraft should they secure the Victorian contract and it was suggested that as my Company also was a tenderer, and would apparently require an alternative aircraft to one of those in our possession, similar facilities might be accorded us also. The matter was then referred to Captain E. C. Johnston, who sponsored our request to the R.A.A.F. I really believed at this time that we would obtain a machine at a nominal price. My conversations with R.A.A.F. officers led me to assume that owing to the cessation of the Empire Training Scheme a large number of Ansons would be obsolete and that because of the difficulty of maintenance the authorities would be glad to dispose of them at a low figure. I was also given to understand that a batch of Ansons would shortly come up for transfer to the Disposals Commission for sale to the public. Unfortunately, owing to urgent requests by the Victorian authorities for us to place our machines in the field as early as possible, we were unable to wait for these general sales, and it was finally agreed that one of the machines abovementioned should be transferred to us. A small committee consisting of Mr. Ellis of the Department of Civil Aviation and Squadron Leader Rowe of the R.A.A.F. assessed the valuation. Owing to the fact that it was not a Disposal sale but a Departmental transfer, the cost was assessed according to R.A.A.F. accountancy procedure on the basis of original cost to R.A.A.F. less depreciation based on hours flown. To my consternation this figure was fixed at 5000, less a small amount deducted for removal of wireless etc. Frankly, I had anticipated and estimated for a price of 500. I acquainted Captain Johnston with the Committee's assessment figure and although he expressed surprise he of course indicated that the matter was entirely out of his hands. I also gathered that R.A.A.F. officers themselves were surprised that the figure should be so high. We had no alternative but to accept and the machine was transferred to us through the office of the Disposals Commission on the basis of a Hire Purchase Agreement. Shortly after this Ansons were made available to the public for the first time through the Disposals Commission and the maximum price obtained was 1000, the price quickly falling to 500 and later to 250 or less. We ourselves purchased two Ansons - one for 1000 and another for 500 - in addition to some hundreds of pounds worth of spare parts. We have of course had to spend a considerable amount of money on all our Ansons in reconditioning and modifying specifically for survey flying. In the case of Anson MG796 we have already paid the Department of Air the sum of 2438/6/8 and have suggested that in view of the relevant circumstances we may be allowed to obtain title to the aircraft for a further 500, making a total payment of 2938/6/8 for Anson MG796. I fully appreciate that If the transfer of this aircraft were looked on purely in the light of a Disposals sale the Commission might feel that it was establishing a dangerous precedent by allowing a reduction in price. but we feel that there are many peculiar circumstances relevant to this case which make it rather different to the purchase of goods that later, due to lack of market demand, have been sold at a much lower figure. I mentioned in the first part of this letter that our Victorian contract was negotiated at a very low price - so low indeed that the Melbourne press announced that it was the lowest price at which a survey contract had ever been negotiated in Australia. This is certainly so and the price allowed for little in the way of adverse conditions. Our work as you will appreciate is almost entirely dependent on weather conditions, and last year owing to world-wide atmospheric disturbances Victorian weather was exceedingly adverse for aerial survey. This resulted in our Company incurring an exceedingly heavy loss last year, and we have not yet been able to overtake this. A further payment of 2376/13/4 would prove a heavy drain on our resources which are urgently required to finance current work and the purchase of modern survey equipment that has become necessary by the adoption of exceedingly accurate survey procedure in Government Departments throughout Australia. I commend these representations to your kind consideration."

(Note: This letter has been reproduced in full as it provides a useful overview of Adastra's situation).
NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
26SEP47
Follett to Deputy DGCA (E.C. Johnston): Enclosing a copy of his letter to Howie (see above). "I shall be very grateful indeed for your good offices in the matter". NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
07OCT47
Follett to Deputy DGCA: Advises that Anson MG796 (by now VH-AGG) "has today been condemned by one of your Departmental Inspectors who was carrying out routine inspection for renewal of Certificate of Airworthiness". Follett has been advised that the plywood in the wings is completely unserviceable due to glue deterioration. Follett expresses concern about the company's second Anson which is of similar construction. Because of the cost of replacing an Anson mainplane Follett expects that VH-AGG will have to be retired permanently. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
11NOV47
General Manager CDC to DGCA: CDC are instigating legal proceedings against Adastra for default. CDC enquire if Capt Johnson is intending to make representations on behalf of Adastra and will hold legal proceedings in abeyance pending advice from DCA. NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
12DEC47
Deputy DGCA to CDC: Capt Johnston basically confirms the accuracy of information presented by Adastra and concludes: "This Department is naturally not aware of all the factors which your Department will need to take into consideration in reaching a decision on the company's representations, but it does appear that the company's case is not without merit and might be given your sympathetic consideration". (The NAA file ends at this point so the response by the CDC is unknown! - Ed) NAA MP203/1 165/102/112
1948
05MAY48
Anson VH-BGO registered to Adastra Airways. G. Goodall
05JUN48
Anson VH-BGO destroyed in a hangar fire at Nhill. G. Goodall
19AUG48
RDNSW to Adastra: "It is desired to advise that as a result of the inspection of a test piece taken from the rear of the front spar at the Starboard bomb bay, the mainplane of your Avro Anson aircraft VH-AGG has been rejected". (The aircraft was subsequently withdrawn from service). NAA MP113/1 VH/AGG
1949
04MAR49
Anson VH-BKZ registered to Adastra Airways. G. Goodall

 

SPECIAL THANKS

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.

 

ABBREVIATIONS

CAB
Civil Aviation Board
CCA
Controller of Civil Aviation
CDC
Commonwealth Disposals Commission
CIGO Chief Inspector Ground Organisation (DCA)
CL Commercial Licence
DCA
Department of Civil Aviation
DGCA
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
RDNSW
Regional Director (DCA) New South Wales
SCL Senior Commercial Licence