On the 12th August 1940,
Frank Follett wrote to the Minister for Air (J.V. Fairbairn) to advise that the
Dragonfly VH-AAD was being modified for aerial survey work and that Adastra were
then carrying out work formerly executed by the RAAF on behalf of the Northern
Territory Survey Committee (1).
On the 21st October 1941, the Report (2) of the Aerial, Geological and Geophysical
Survey of Northern Australia (AGGSNA) for the period ended 31st December 1940
was presented to the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. This report
includes a summary of Adastra's activities during the period (see below). Although
the report does not mention the identity of the aircraft used, it does name the
pilot as Mr. N. Rodoni and the photographer as Mr. Payens. Given that the Dragonfly
VH-AAD had been withdrawn from the Bega service and was still undergoing
aerial survey conversion, together with the fact that Eagle VH-UUY
had replaced the Dragonfly on the Bega service, there can be little doubt that
this survey was flown by the Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD.
The report states that Adastra had developing and printing facilities
set up at Cairns and field prints were made available to on-site AGGSNA geologists.
The developing and printing of the Alice Springs areas was done in Sydney. Photomosaics
were produced and delivered, along with negative rolls and contact prints, to
the AGGSNA Brisbane office. According to the report, the 1940 aerial photography
cost £3,018 for an area of 850 square miles of which 55 square miles was at low
The "Mr. Payens" mentioned in the government report is
Peter Volkert Payens, whose biography (3) refers to these survey flights as follows:
"We photographed a strip of country from Cairns to Cooktown for a proposed
road, then photographed old goldfields there. Next we were off to a speck on the
map called The Granites, north-west of Alice Springs, which a man called Chapman
was trying to bring back into production as a goldfield. We were flying over country
which was mostly white space on the maps, in a single-engine plane with no wireless.
It took six months and it was interesting, though once again there was no extra
"A Camera in the Sky" by Dora Payens and Tom Jenkins.
Published by Dora Payens 2000.
to Doug Morrison, who provided the report on which this page is based.
Doug Morrison advises that Adastra's Waco was the last aircraft
used on the Aerial,
Geological and Geophysical Survey of Northern Australia (AGGSNA). The first was
Smithy's Fokker F-VIIB-3m "Southern Cross". During September-October
1934, the "Southern Cross" flew 143 hours on the survey crewed by Pat
Hall and Harry Purvis. It will be remembered that the "Southern Cross"
was engaged on this survey when it met up with Smithy and P.G. Taylor in the Lockheed
Altair "Lady Southern Cross" at Cloncurry. The Altair was en route to
England to compete in the Centenary Air Race and it was during the meeting at
Cloncurry that Harry Purvis discovered that the cowling of the Altair was cracking,
leading to Smithy's withdrawal from the race.