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Expanded the page on Adastra Airways' airline service between Sydney and Bega. Also added schedules from Gordon's Air Guide.


Added a new page on How Lionel Van Praag Earned His George Medal. Thanks to Warren Ide for his assistance with this page.


Added a new page on Adastra's administration buildings. Thanks to Warren Ide for his assistance with this page.


Added three images (X2, X3 & X4) of Adastra staff from "The Hut" in Tenth Street Mascot. Thanks to Jan Power (nee Frewin) for these images.


The page on Hudson Hatchbacks has been moved to The Lockheed File and the coverage greatly expanded. This page describes the use of eight RAAF Hudsons as air ambulances. Two of these aircraft went on to serve Adastra as VH-AGG and VH-AGO. Go to Hudson Ambulances on The Lockheed File.


Updated the page for Beech Queen Air VH-CTE and added two images thanks to David Eyre AAWA.


Added further details of flights by the two ex-RAAF Mosquitoes that were operated in Australia by Sepal and crewed by Max Garroway, Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich, all of whom later joined Adastra.


Added another image of Cessna 185A VH-AGE on its back at Collendina thanks to Greg Thom.


Added three recent images of DC-3 VH-AGU thanks to Phil Vabre.
Image 1 Image 2 Image 3


Added an image of Dragon VH-AGC in Queensland Airplanters markings. Thanks to Ivan Wilson and Andy Anderson.


Added a recent image of the cockpit of DC-3 VH-AGU thanks to Phil Vabre.


Added a photograph of Hudson VH-AGO which suggests that the white tail was introduced circa June/July 1955. Thanks to Ron Beckett.


Added a new page listing types of aerial cameras.


Added several images of three Adastra film canisters that turned up in an antique shop in 2023. Thanks to Debra Ray-Thompson.


Added a magnificent air-to-air image of Canso CF-GKI (later VH-AGB) thanks to Doug Morrison.


Added an image of Anson W2591 thanks to Dave Vincent. This aircraft later became the short-lived VH-BGO which was previously not illustrated.


Added a Slideshow to the aircraft pages and the Photo Albums. You can now scroll through the images without having to return to the table of thumbnails. However, if you want to read the captions you will need to click on the relevant thumbnail.
Aircraft Pages
Photo Albums


Added an image of Mosquito VH-WWS thanks to Eric Allen.


Added three images of Hudson VH-SMO thanks to Eric Allen.
Image 1 Image 2 Image 3


Added four images of Hudson VH-AGX thanks to Eric Allen.
Image 1 Image 2 Image 3 Image 4


Added two images of Hudson VH-AGS thanks to Eric Allen.
Image 1 Image 2


Added an image of Hudson VH-AGE thanks to Eric Allen.


Added three images of Hudson VH-EWR thanks to Eric Allen.
Image 1 Image 2 Image 3


Added two images of Hudson VH-AGO thanks to Eric Allen.
Image 1
Image 2


Added three images of Hudson VH-SMM thanks to Eric Allen.
Image 1
Image 2 Image 3


Added three images of Hudson VH-EWS thanks to Eric Allen.
Image 1
Image 2 Image 3


Added an image of Hudson VH-EWE thanks to Eric Allen.


Added an image of Hudson VH-EWB thanks to Eric Allen.


With the emergence of a photo of Gipsy Moth VH-UOR there is now a dedicated page for this aeroplane. The page for Gipsy Moth VH-UOQ has also been expanded.


It has emerged that the photographs taken by a PIX photographer on 2 March 1960 did appear in print, but in the sister magazine PEOPLE on 11 May 1960. Thanks to Doug Morrison who discovered a photocopy of the article.


Added an image of Hudson VH-AGJ in the orange livery thanks to Peter Gates.


Today your Webmaster received an email from New Caledonia requesting Adastra to tender for a survey! It is pleasing to note that the company's reputation refuses to die. It's not unusual to receive one or two similar requests each year.


Added an image of Dragonfly G-AEDT (formerly VH-AAD) at Mount Isa in DEC63 thanks to Ben Dannecker.


Updated the captions to images 29 and 32 from PIX magazine thanks to Warren Ide who appears in image 29.


Added a selection of images taken at the Adastra office and hangar on 2 March 1960 by a photographer from PIX magazine . The images are held by the State Library of New South Wales.


Added an image of the Doppler antenna on DC-3 VH-AGU thanks to Geoff Goodall.


The Temora Aviation Museum recently discovered some graffiti inside the starboard fuel tank of the former VH-AGS. Image


Added a fine selection of Hudson images thanks to Alan Flett. To view the images please go to the update table at the foot of each page.


Added an image of Owen McKenzie-Smith to Album 2.


Added an image of the Featherington-Kite artwork that adorned the nose of Hudson VH-AGS in June 1970. The artwork was by Peter Shute and the photograph was taken by Brian Costello. Sadly we also record that Brian Costello passed away on 29 March 2021. We thank his son Mike for the photo.


It has just emerged that when Adastra's first Hudson, VH-AGG, entered service, it did so in a natural metal colour scheme. It is likely that when this website was created seventeen years ago, none of the surviving Adastrians had seen this livery.


Added a link to download the Adastra Aerial Surveys font as recreated by Peter Shute.


Added four Hudson images thanks to Peter Gates.

VH-AGS freshly painted in the orange livery.

VH-AGX freshly painted in the orange livery.

VH-AGX damaged fuselage at Point Cook.

VH-AGP and VH-AGS stored at Tamworth.



Added a biography of Jock Head. Thanks to Laurie McLean.


Added a page on the Follett sisters.
Added press reports on the founding of Adastra.
Updated the company history with more biographical detail on the Folletts.
Thanks to Laurie McLean.


Added a selection of Hudson images thanks to Eric Allen. Please refer to the update table at the foot of each page.






Added three images thanks to Ben Dannecker.






Added an image of Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD in the Northern Territory sometime prior to 31DEC41. It would seem that the aircraft was involved in surveying the route of the Stuart Highway from Adelaide to Darwin. Thanks to Doug Morrison.


Added Adastra Operational Reports on three aeromagnetic surveys thanks to Doug Morrison.

Roma 1960 VH-AGB

Narran River and Bollon 1962 VH-BLF, VH-AGS, VH-AGE

Offshore Sydney-Newcastle 1966 VH-AGU


Added a new page on Aeromagnetic Surveys in NSW 1954 - 1966. Thanks to Doug Morrison.


Added a new page on the Bonaparte Gulf / Timor Sea surveys of 1963 and 1965 thanks to Doug Morrison.


Added an image of Anson VH-AGG at Nhill circa 1947 thanks to Mike Kingwell and Geoff Goodall.

Added an Adastra photo of Dragonfly VH-AAD at Ballarat in 1946 thanks to Geoff Goodall.

We begin the new year with a significant addition to the site. Deb Duckmanton, whose father Harry Morrell was a camera operator on the Dragonfly and Ansons, has donated his log book and photo collection to the South Australian Aviation Museum. Nigel Daw at the SAAM immediately recognised the value of this material and he duly forwarded copies to us. All of this material has now been added to this site.

Harry Morrell's Log Book 6 November 1945 to 19 December 1951

Harry Morrell's Photo Collection (Album #2 - See 12 images on Rows V and W)

All of Harry's flights have been incorporated into the histories of the following aircraft:

Dragonfly VH-AAD

Anson VH-AGO

Anson VH-AVT

Anson VH-BKZ

If you don't have time to look at all of this, don't miss this beautiful photograph.

Thank you Deb and Nigel.
Added a link to the Alamy website which has an archive of Adastra aerial photos from circa 1937. The images are all obliques of Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong and environs. The Alamy site is a commercial operation which is unrelated to the Adastra website. Please note that this link is presented solely as a service to readers of the Adastra website.
Added an image of Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD in Papuan Air Transport markings. Thanks to Cliff Jackson and Roger McDonald.
Added a document listing the service record of Adastra co-founder Bunny Hammond. This document is sourced from the website of the Australian Society of World War One Aero Historians. Thanks to Warren Ide for sourcing the document.
Added a series of images of Hudson VH-AGJ which is displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon. Thanks to Curator, Andy Simpson for facilitating access to the interior of the aircraft.

Added a new page on the Sepal notice that was carried on Adastra aircraft.
Added detailed notes on the 1953 survey of Papua which was flown by Canso CF-GKI, later VH-AGB. Thanks to Doug Morrison.

Added seven images from the Ted McKenzie collection thanks to his son Paul.

Prince G-AMLW
Prince G-AMLW
Prince VH-AGF
Prince VH-AGF
Hudson VH-AGX
Hudson VH-AGX Can anyone identify the young lad in the photo?
Hudson VH-SMO

Added a photograph of Hangar 13 at Mascot. Thanks to Dave Prossor and Bob Livingstone.
Added a new page on the unveiling of a memorial to those lost in Hudson VH-AGE. The memorial was dedicated on 24 September 2016, the 50th anniversary of the crash. Hudson VH-AGE Memorial
Added an interesting image of Cessna 185A VH-AGE after overturning at Collendina, NSW in January 1976. Nothing is known of the incident so if any reader can advise it will be appreciated.
Warren Ide has contributed five new images to Album #2. Images U2 to U6 refer. Thanks Warren.
Engineer Nev Williams has provided a biography of his time with Adastra. Thanks Nev.
Added an interesting image of a very shabby Hudson VH-AGJ as it appeared on arrival at Prestwick, Scotland in May 1973.
All the Hudson history pages and images have been refreshed.
Warren Ide has found an online audio interview with Bunny Hammond. Thanks Warren.
Added the following new images:
Eagle VH-UUY
Eagle VH-UTG
B.K. L.25c VH-USH
Adastra's Legacy for the 21st Century. The Wollongong City Council has published recent aerial photography of the city overlaid on Adastra photography from 1948 and 1951. By moving a "Spy Glass" over Adastra's black and white 1948 photography you can see the same location in colour as it appeared 66 years later in 2014. It's very well done and well worth a look. http://arcg.is/1DJ3nAV
Warren Ide has provided 9 additional names for the Personnel List. This takes the total to 345. Thanks Warren.
Completely revised the page on Raydist thanks to Trevor Sheffield. The new page includes many photos of Raydist expeditions to the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1964 and to W.A. in 1965. Thanks Trevor.
Added five images of de Havilland Moth VH-UOQ which once belonged to Adastra. The photos were taken in Toowoomba circa 1938/39 by Frank Joel whose son Murray kindly made the available.
Added an image of Ted McKenzie at the controls of Catalina VH-AGB and an image of Ted flying a DC-3 believed to be Adastra's VH-AGU. Thanks to Ted's son Paul McKenzie for supplying these wonderful pictures.
Added an excellent photo of Adastra's Hangar 15 circa 1948.
Added a photo of Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD.
Thanks to Robert Montgomery.
Of a more melancholy nature are six new images of the wreckage of Hudson VH-AGO at Horn Island. These images are also from the collection of Scotty (David) Wilson.
Thanks to Greg Wilson for six new images which appear at the foot of the page in Album #2 as S6 and T1 to T5. These images are from the collection of Greg's father, Scotty (David) Wilson, who was an engineer with Adastra. There are several unidentified people in these images. Included is a genuine ADASTRAPHOTO of Ayers Rock.
Thanks to Warren Ide for adding to the identities of the people in this image.
The Hudson Hatchback page on Hudson air ambulances has been greatly expanded thanks to the assistance of David Vincent.
Added a scan of an early Adastra brochure promoting the airline, the flying school, aerial photography and aircraft sales! Thanks to Roger McDonald.

Added three new images to Album #2 thanks to Rosemary Peters, whose father Cec Mohr worked for Adastra from 1953 to 1973.

Image 1 Can any reader identify the people in this image?

Image 2

Image 3

Added a new page on the memorial to the crash of Ansett-ANA Viscount VH-RMI. Adastra employee Harold Bagot was a passenger on the aircraft. Thanks to Greg Weir for the images.
Added an image of Adastra's first two aircraft outside Hangar 8 at Mascot. This photo was probably taken around the time that the company opened for business in August 1930. The photo comes from the Fairfax Archives via Eddie Coates.
Added an account of the WWI exploits of Adastra co-founder Bunny Hammond. This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the Australian Society of World War One Aero Historians. The article was sourced by Warren Ide.
DC-3 VH-AGU has been repainted to represent a Vietnam era AC-47 gunship. Thanks to Gordon Reid who took this image at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon yesterday!
Thanks to this image from Ken Watson, the page on Aerodist has been completely revised to reflect the correct locations of the antennae.
Peter Cuthbertson advises that his father Tom Cuthbertson passed away on 1 November 2012 aged 89.
We record the passing of Maurie Miller on 4 November 2012.
Added an air-to-air image of CSIRO Anson VH-WMA. Thanks to Geoff Goodall.
Added an image of Hudson VH-SMO at Essendon in February 1964. Photographer was Barney Deatrick. Thanks to Geoff Goodall.
Added an image of Mascot Aerodrome said to be taken circa 1939 but it may have been taken at the same time as a similar 1940 image which is already on the website. This new image is much larger and therefore yields more detail. The image was taken by the noted photographer John Harrison and this copy comes from the Ben Dannecker Collection.
Fox Moth VH-UOU now has its own page in the same format as the other aircraft pages. Also added an image of the aircraft outside Adastra's Hangar 8 at Mascot from the Civil Aviation Historical Society Collection via Ken Watson.
We record the passing of Dennis Heussner on 6 July 2012. See Update #101 on this page for an obituary.
We have just learned that Ted McKenzie passed away on 22 May 2012 at the age of 92.
We have added a special tribute page for Mike Wood who passed away on 8 February.
Alex Whitworth has contributed a fascinating piece of Adastriana, the story of The Well-travelled Dice Shaker.
On a happier note, we have been contacted by Reiner Treder from Frankfurt, Germany. Reiner has built a 1:8 scale flying model of the Lockheed Hudson and he has chosen to model it on Adastra's VH-AGS. Read the full story:
Adastra Hudson VH-AGS Flies Again
We have been advised that Mike Wood passed away on 8 February. Mike was one of the last remaining custodians of the Adastra corporate memory and his contributions to this website will be greatly missed. A tribute to Mike will be published on this website as soon as possible.
Added a remarkable series of Adastra aerial photographs from the collection of Madeline and Warren Ide. Madeline was a photographic processor and printer with Adastra from 1966 until 1976 while Warren was a photogrammetrist with Adastra from 1956 until 1976. The majority of the photographs appear to have been taken to document the diversion of the Cooks River but the added bonus is that they also record the development of Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport from 1947 to 1975. Thanks to Madeline and Warren for sharing these photographs.
Sadly, Wal Bowles passed away in Nambucca Heads, NSW on 22 August 2011. Wal contributed many wonderful stories to the website. He will be sadly missed.
Added two images of the cloud seeding equipment on the CSIRO Anson VH-WMA thanks to Barry Colledge. This aircraft was later acquired by Adastra for spares.
Although they were never Adastra aircraft, I have added pages for the Bureau of Mineral Resources DC-3s VH-BUR and VH-MIN. Having earlier made an exception for DC-3 VH-DAS, it follows that it is appropriate to include these two aircraft, if only to remove any confusion that they were Adastra aircraft. As "real" survey aeroplanes their story deserves to be told. This is more so as Doug Morrison has contributed a wealth of information on the surveys conducted by these aircraft.

Doug Morrison has been through the Bureau of Mineral Resources Project Index and extracted all references to Adastra. This document can be viewed as a PDF.
Added a very rare colour photo of Hudson VH-AGX with red registration and cowling embellishments and a target towing winch fitted.
Jim Page has contacted us from the Gold Coast. Jim was already on the list as an apprentice engineer but he has updated his years of service. Jim has also identified the formerly unidentified engineer in this photo as Tim Barrel.
Thanks to Ian Mackenzie for supplying these two photos from the collection of his Father, Daryl Mackenzie.


DH-83 Fox Moth VH-UQU
The history of Hudson VH-SMM/AGJ has been expanded significantly thanks to Andrew Simpson, a Curator and historian from the Royal Air Force Museum in the UK where the aeroplane is now on display. Many will have wondered why the aeroplane has not been restored to its full military configuration. As it is currently displayed, the interior of the aeroplane is virtually a time capsule of its days with Adastra. The Webmaster put the question to the RAF Museum who have responded as follows:

Detailed consideration was given to returning the aircraft to full military status, but the extent of airframe modification this would involve precluded it at the time. Much of the nose forward of the cockpit windscreen would need to be replaced, and a new turret ring fitted in the rear fuselage - so for the foreseeable future she will be remaining 'as is'.

(Richard Simpson, Keeper of Aircraft, RAF Museum)

The RAF Museum have been advised that in the event that they should one day decide to fully restore the Hudson, there would be considerable interest in having any removed items of Adastra equipment repatriated to Australia for preservation. This has been noted on the aircraft file.

Also added to the history of VH-SMM are several references from Max Garroway for which we thank Doug Morrison.
Thanks to John Ellerton for supplying his bio.
Thanks to Abe Baker, we now know a lot more about what was going on in this photo.
Thanks to Doug Morrison I have added a page on Lyell - E.Z. Explorations contracts in Tasmania in 1957.
The housekeeping continues. I believe that all of the Adastriana buttons are now functional. If you find one that isn't please advise the Webmaster.

The list of Contributors has been given a long-overdue update. As always, if I have forgotten anyone please let me know and it will be rectified.

I also discovered to my shame that I never added Kevin Pavlich to the Honour Roll. This has been put right.
The gap-tooth grin has gone. Since the inception of the Adastra website, we have had an annoying gap in the navigation bar at the top of the page. The simple reason for this is that we always had an odd number of menu selections. One of the more popular sections is that collection of personal anecdotes which we call Adastriana. Up until now, this has been buried deep within the People menu. Not any more. You will note that there is now an Adastriana button on the navigation bar in the place of the aforementioned gap. Please note that whilst this button is fully functional on all the upper level pages, the Adastriana button is not yet functional on the lower level pages. If you strike this situation just hit the Home button from where you can select Adastriana.
Neil Spencer, who was a navigator/camera operator in 1974, has contributed two wonderful stories plus a number of photographs. Thank you Neil.

Polishing VH-CTE

Two Blades are Better than One

See also Photo Album #2 Images S1 and S2

Bonanza VH-CFV with tip tanks

Hudsons VH-AGP and VH-AGS out to grass at Tamworth

Thanks also to Geoff Goodall and Tony Arbon for additional photos and historical information.
Update #90 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 331.
Update #88 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 330.
Added a new page on the ground search for Wackett VH-BEC after it had been located by Adastra's Hudson VH-AGE. Thanks to Paul and Alison Heaft for providing these poignant images which were found in the collection of Alison's Grandfather, Tom Murray MBE, the Police officer who led the ground search party.
Added an image of Anson VH-BKZ after its take-off accident at Moorabbin in July 1953. Thanks to Phil Vabre of the Civil Aviation Historical Society.
Tony Burgess has contributed some wonderful photographs, 12 of which can be viewed in Album #2 (Scroll down to rows Q & R). Don't miss the story of the stolen Cessna! Many thanks to Tony and to David Watts who has ably assumed the role of our late friend Kevin Pavlich by preparing Tony's material to go on the website.

Tony has also supplied several new photos of Adastra aircraft:

Anson VH-BLF

Catalina VH-AGB

Hudson VH-AGS

Hudson VH-SMM
Added an image of Aero Commander VH-KRA while it was owned by King Ranch. Thanks to Greg Banfield and Eddie Coates.
Robin Baker has contacted us with some recollections of his time with Adastra. His story is titled A Net of Circumstance.
Badge collector Adrian Patterson has provided images of two Adastra badges from his collection. Thank you Adrian.
Added a new page on DH-60M Moth VH-UOQ. Thanks to Phil Vabre of the CAHS for providing the photograph.
Added two new images of Aero Commander VH-KRA and added further details of its history thanks to Russell Legg, Barry Collman, Roger McDonald and the late Mike Madden.
Added further information on Aero Commander VH-AGA thanks to Tony Arbon and Barry Collman.
Added two new images of Aero Commander VH-AGA and clarified details of ownership post Adastra. Thanks to Russell Legg.
Added a colour image of Hudson VH-AGE taken around the time that the aeroplane entered service with Adastra.
It is with deep regret that we record the passing of Gordon Bigg. Gordon passed away on the Gold Coast on 14FEB08. His funeral is being held today, 20FEB08.

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Kevin Pavlich on Friday 1st February. It will be noted that the home page of this website now carries this dedication to Kevin.

This special dedication recognises the fact that without Kevin's encouragement, this website would never have been created. Not only did Kevin encourage its creation but he also put a great deal of effort into gathering and processing the material which makes this website such a useful historical resource. Thanks to Kevin, this website serves as a tribute to everyone who worked for Adastra. Kevin died knowing that this dedication would be put in place after his passing.

Kevin's Biography

Kevin's Log Book

To celebrate the new year, the website has undergone some refurbishment. Although much of this may be transparent to readers, the most significant changes are that all pages now appear in the Arial font and the captions on some of the earlier images have been enlarged. Why some of the images had such miniscule captions has been lost in the mists of time but probably falls into the category of "seemed like a good idea at the time".
George Charlwood (who was there) advises that the date of Adastra's move from Hangar 8 to Hangar 15 was closer to 1946 and not 1940 as previously shown on the Hangar page. All references have been amended accordingly. Thanks George.
Reader, Graeme Parsons, recently visited the Botany Bay Library at Mascot to inspect the glass panels from the Adastra Vickers Avenue office. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the panels have now been incorporated into a replica door structure which features in an exhibition on the history of Sydney Airport. The exhibition finishes on 29 February 2008. Thank you Graeme.
Thanks to a lead from Michael Costello, whose father, Brian, used to fly Hudsons for Adastra, we are in contact with Tony Dewey of Fugro. Tony recovered the door from the wreck of Hudson VH-AGO at Horn Island and the restored door now adorns his bar.
The door as found.
The door as restored.
Readers of the Adastra site might like an update on Kevin Pavlich. Kevin's health situation recently dictated a move from Sydney to Nowra where he can receive full-time care while being closer to his son Patrick. While he was still in Sydney, Kevin was being cared for by good friend and Honorary Adastrian, David Watts. Since Kevin's move back to Fleet Air Arm territory, David continues to visit him regularly. More recently, David arranged for Kevin to have a motorised wheelchair which has improved his mobility and quality of life considerably. Son Patrick, an aircraft engineer, has installed an onboard oxygen system which automatically kicks in when Kevin passes 10 feet above sea level. A GPS is planned for the future although first it may be necessary to install a speed governor, or at least hydraulic disc brakes. Kevin was last seen laying rubber in the carpark of the North Nowra Tavern. Immediately before this sighting he was heard to be muttering something about "Which way is Bathurst?".

It is particularly pleasing to report that, in addition to caring for Kevin, David Watts will now assume Kevin's role of co-ordinating the collection and preparation of historical material for the Adastra website. When it comes to cameras and scanners, David is more qualified than any of us so he is a most welcome addition to the website team. Here is one of David's recent photos of Motorised Kevin.
Several readers have identified an anomaly on the page describing Adastra's Mascot hangars. The first building occupied by Adastra from approximately 1930 to 1940 was originally identified as Hangar 9 although the map on the same page clearly identifies it as Hangar 8. Where this anomaly crept in I do not know but it was almost certainly the fault of the Webmaster, not the original researcher Chris O'Neill. As I have been unable to locate any reference to Adastra occupying Hangar 9, all references have been changed to show Hangar 8.
We now have a new user-friendly Guestbook.
Update #78 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 325.
Added a magnificent air-to-air portrait of Dragonfly ZK-AYR (formerly VH-AAD) thanks to Xavier Méal.
Added a report on the RAC lunch in Sydney on 25 January 2007.
Since the beginning of this website, we have grappled with how best to present the contents of Kevin Pavlich's flying log book. Several attempts at summarising this mine of information fell by the wayside. More recently, Kevin himself bit the bullet and, encouraged by the Webmaster who said it deserved the full treatment, set about writing his "Magnum Opus". What emerged was a manuscript of 40 pages plus 60 images describing in great detail Kevin's time with the RAN, World Wide Aerial Surveys and Adastra. During his flying career, Kevin diligently recorded such details as aircraft registration, altitude, camera type, shutter speed and aperture. Future historians will give thanks to Kevin for recording this information in the first place and for preserving it so that it might be shared with future generations. Thank you Kevin. You can read Kevin's story here.
Sandra Motteram has settled an ongoing debate once and for all. The correct spelling of her father's name is Allen Motteram. We had every possible permutation on the site but it is believed that all occurrences have been corrected. If you find one we missed please advise the Webmaster. Our apologies to the Motteram family for this fundamental error.
Mike Wood has contributed a priceless piece of Adastra memorabilia - his navigation computer. Many thanks Mike. If only it could talk!
Doug Morrison has contributed a very useful listing of some of the aeromagnetic contracts flown in South Australia by Adastra. Thanks Doug.
Peter Gates has supplied three new post-Adastra photos of DC-3 VH-AGU:
VH-AGU at Archerfield in July 1988 showing collision damage.
VH-AGU at Archerfield in July 1988 showing close-up of collision damage.
VH-AGU at Brisbane in April 1998
Thanks Peter.
Prolific contributor, Wal Bowles, has provided us with another Lionel anecdote - Lionel's Brush with the Law. Thanks Wal.
Update #74 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 322.
Added an image of a New Year greeting from Mr & Mrs Bunny Hammond. Thanks to Lorraine Staniland for this contribution.
Added a biography of Les Sheffield. Thanks to his son Trevor for this contribution.
Added an interesting photo of Adastra's Hangar 8 at Mascot in 1940. The photo was taken by Ruth Dunstan (nee Palmer) a nurse who started taking flying lessons at Archerfield in 1938 with a view to becoming a flying nurse. Sadly, late in 1938 she was told that flying lessons were available only to men and her dream never eventuated. Thanks to Dennis Gray for sharing this photo with us.
Can anyone identify the aeroplane in the Adastra hangar?
Added a biography of Ted McKenzie, former Chief Pilot and Operations Manager of Adastra. The biography was prepared from notes supplied by Ted himself. Thanks Ted.
Peter Kelly has provided an interesting photo of Hudson VH-AGX. The photo shows the aeroplane as deck cargo on the "Townsville Trader" in the Port of Melbourne in February 1977. Thanks Peter.
Although Dick Glassey was with Adastra only briefly, he went on to become a central figure in the development of postwar civil aviation in Papua New Guinea, a country which he had surveyed during his time with Adastra. This biography was prepared with the assistance of his good friend Peter Sharpe.
Allen Windross has contributed a wonderful piece titled "A Job Near Home". Allen tells how he joined Adastra at age 15 as the "Chemical Boy" in the Photographic Laboratory at Mascot. Included in the story is a diagram of the layout of the laboratory. Thank you Allen for a superb article on a previously overlooked aspect of Adastra's operations.
On 22 January 2006, several Adastrians attended a welcome home party for fellow Adastrian Alex Whitworth after his round-world voyage in his yacht Berrimilla. Thanks to David Watts we have been able to add three photos to Album No 2. See images P4, P5 & P6.
Four new images have been added to Album No 2:
A fine portrait of Frank Minjoy courtesy of Kevin Pavlich's brother Darcy.
Ken Rowlands and the crew of VH-AGX at Wewak in 1965 thanks to Noel Langford.
Alfie Thompson and Jim Hilferty in tropical uniform. Thanks to Les Hall.
Those were the days. The Adastra ramp in 1959. Courtesy of Les Hall.

Les Hall has also provided three interesting images of Adastra aeroplanes.
Hudson VH-AGX with the red cowl adornments.
DC-3 VH-AGU with the under-belly Doppler antenna exposed.
Prince F-BJAI (formerly VH-AGF) being refuelled in Gabon.

Thanks to all our contributors.
Added another photo of Hudson VH-BLA which later became VH-AGG. The photo comes from the Gus Grulke Collection.
It may surprise some readers that the site now has a new page devoted to an aeroplane which Adastra never owned. To the best of our knowledge, Adastra had no association with the aeroplane beyond the fact that it was the only heavy, survey aircraft retained by East-West Airlines after it took-over Adastra. The aircraft is the survey DC-3 VH-DAS which spent its entire survey career in South Australia. Your Webmaster has had to choose between rigidly applying policy and relaxing our criteria to include a wealth of new information which might otherwise be lost.

We have added a biography of Dean Darcey who passed away recently in Brisbane. Dean's biography includes the classic aviation poem "The Port Moresby Gliding Club". Although many would be familiar with this clever poem, not many would realise that Dean was the author.
In 1943, Adastra was contracted by the NSW Main Roads Department to conduct aerial photography of Sydney. These wartime photos survive to this day in the archives of the NSW Roads & Traffic Authority. The RTA recently produced a CD-ROM of these photos for sale to the public. A new page on the 1943 Survey of Sydney displays several photos from the CD and provides information on ordering a copy of the CD.

Update #70 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 320.
The page on the Hudson Magnetometer Boom has been completely revised thanks to input from Ted McKenzie and John Fincher. The pages for VH-AGE and VH-AGS have also been revised accordingly.
The page on the Hudson Winch Bird has also been updated with the addition of two photos (albeit of poor quality) which were previously missing from our copy of the file. These depict the cable pulley assembly and the bird cradle. Thanks to Chris O'Neill for this new information.
Kym Stucke has contributed a very fine biography of her late father Bruce Sellick. Thank you Kym.
It has emerged that there was another aviation company which used the name Adastra. This company was called Ad Astra Aero and they operated out of Switzerland from 1920 to 1931.
Update #68 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 319.
Thanks to the State Library of NSW we have been able to add a wonderful photo of two of Adastra's founders, Miss Evelyn Follett and Captain Frank Follett.

Please note that the Guestbook has been reactivated.
Thanks to John Collins and Kevin Pavlich, we have been able to identify the crew member in this photo as Pat Murphy who was the navigator on Hudson VH-AGG when it was lost at Lae. (It was previously stated incorrectly that Pat Murphy was the camera operator but this has been corrected to navigator. Thanks to Bob Cozens for the correction.)
Update #67 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 318.
It wasn't enough for Alex Whitworth to compete in last year's Sydney to Hobart and then immediately sail Berrimilla around the world. Just days after returning safely to Sydney, Alex and Berrimilla fronted up again for the 2006 Sydney to Hobart. Readers can monitor Berrimilla's progress via the official race website by clicking on "Yacht Tracker"


Don't miss the Google Earth feed. This is an innovation which should really appeal to old aerial survey types.
John Collins has highlighted an anomaly with the model number of the Cessna VH-KMF. Although officially a Cessna 210-5A, it was marketed as a Cessna 205, the predecessor of the Cessna 206 which it closely resembled. Thanks to John for pointing it out and to Tony Arbon for explaining the details. We are all left wondering why they didn't call it a 205 in the first place.
The recent passing of Dora Payens reminded us that several Adastrians who have contributed to the website have passed away since its inception. Accordingly, it was felt that these Adastrians should feature on an Honour Roll. It will be noted that the Honour Roll is restricted to the following:
(a) Adastrians who contributed historical material to the website during their lifetime.
(b) Immediate family of Adastrians who contributed historical material to the website after the passing of the staff member.
(c) Adastrians who provided for us with historical material which was contributed after their death by family or friends.

If readers can think of anyone who should be on the roll please advise Ron Cuskelly.
It is sad to report that we have received word that Ken Rowlands' wife Gwen passed away in Bowral Hospital on 6 November 2005 after a long illness.

Prodigal Adastrian Alex Whitworth Nearly Home!
Alex Whitworth, Pete Crozier and "Berrimilla" are expecting to arrive in Hobart at approximately 1500 local time tomorrow, Monday 12 December, thus completing their circumnavigation of the world. (Next year they are planning to go somewhere else). Their ETA Sydney is some time around 21 December. For progress reports please see the Berri website:


It is sad to report that we have received word via Ted McKenzie that Dora Payens passed away during November. Dora's family found a document amongst her papers asking that Adastra be advised in the event of her passing.
Thanks to Ted McKenzie and Mike Wood we now have a better understanding of what was happening in Geoff Goodall's photo of Hudson VH-AGX ground running at Adelaide in December 1962 (not January 1963 as previously believed).
Geoff Goodall has supplied us with a wonderful photo of Hudson VH-AGX ground running at Adelaide in December 1962. All we have to do now is name the participants.
Geoff Goodall has also contributed a photo of Hudson VH-EWR in rain-making configuration. This aeroplane later became VH-AGE.
Update #66 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 317.
Please refer to the previous update on 14NOV05. The location of this photo was incorrectly identified as Horn Island but this has now been corrected to Weipa.
Recently we were contacted by Alan O'Toole who has identified the unknown engineer in this photo as his friend Alan Baker. Thanks to Alan O'Toole and to Kevin Pavlich who subsequently interviewed Alan Baker.
Thanks to Geoff Goodall we have an excellent photo of DC-3 VH-AGU wearing Westralian Aerial Surveys titles. The photo was taken outside Hangar 13 at Mascot in January 1964. Thanks Geoff.
Aircraft which were previously illustrated on the Miscellaneous Aircraft page have now been moved to separate pages, all of which are indexed on the Aircraft menu. These pages do not at present provide a history of the aircraft but there is now space for this if the information is forthcoming. In most instances, content is limited to the photos relocated from the Miscellaneous page which has now been deleted. Aircraft affected are:
Beech Bonanza VH-CFV
Beech Queen Air VH-CTE
Boeing B-17 CF-HBP
Cessna 210 VH-KMF
Cessna 320 VH-DRK
DH-83 Fox Moth VH-UQU

These changes have been prompted by the receipt of an interesting photo provided by Paul Hockey. The photo depicts a de Havilland DH-60X Moth which is believed to be VH-UFT which was owned by Bunny Hammond before he and Frank Follett formed Adastra. Technically it's not an Adastra aeroplane but the interesting historical connection is irresistible. Thanks Paul.
Thanks to Prince specialist, Tom Singfield in the UK, we have a very interesting photo of Adastra's Prince wearing the Kenyan registration VP-KRN. The aeroplane is photographed somewhere in Africa in 1961. Thanks Tom.
Update #65 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 315. The addition is Tom Cuthbertson who was a navigator on the Dragonfly in 1946. Thanks to some detective work by Cay Carpenter we now know that Tom Cuthbertson is the previously unidentified person in this photo.
Our Alex has his name up in lights again. The following is quoted from a Royal Ocean Racing Club news release:

"The Seamanship Trophy, awarded each year by the Royal Ocean Racing Club for an outstanding act of seamanship, goes to Alex Whitworth and Peter Crozier and their Brolga 33 ft yacht ‘Berrimilla'. Having sailed the 2004 Rolex Sydney-Hobart, the two set off to sail to the UK via the Falkland Islands, taking 159 days. They encountered severe storms with squalls of over 50 knots and were knocked down during a south-westerly gale south of New Zealand, subsequently having to put into Dunedin as Alex Whitworth had severely bruised ribs. Having completed the voyage to the UK they then took part in the Rolex Fastnet Race, coming 8th in IRC Class 3, and shortly afterwards set sail again for Australia, in order to arrive in time to take part in the 2005 Rolex Sydney- Hobart race. The prizes, together with all the other RORC Annual awards, will be presented at the AGM and Annual Prize Giving Dinner at the Drapers’ Hall on 22nd November."
Further to the recently added photo of the Prince VH-AGF with its belly hatch open, Joe Tidey advises that "the only magnetometer head carried by the Prince while with AHGL was fixed into the absolute rear-end of the fuselage up under the trailing edge of the rudder. Nothing was every streamed from that belly hatch - not even unwanted bodily wastes, as we had an Elsan on board. The hatch being provided to accommodate the 35mm tracking camera." Thanks Joe for setting us straight with this.
Thanks to Ted McKenzie, the DC-3 Mystery Modification has been identified. It's a Janitrol Heater.

Tom Carpenter's log book has yielded more detail of Adastra's acquisition of the Anson W2599. From the same source we also have more detail of the brief service of Anson VH-BGO and of the fire which destroyed the aeroplane. Previously we knew that BGO's lifetime with Adastra was exactly one month but thanks to Tom's log book it now appears that Adastra got only one successful survey flight (of 4 hours 35 minutes) out of the aeroplane before it was destroyed! Tom Carpenter did a lot of flying on Ansons and a lesser amount on Hudsons as either camera operator, engineer or second pilot. Much of this has been added to the chronologies of the following aircraft although it should be noted that these are mostly ferry flights and many "routine" flights have been omitted. Thanks again to Cay Carpenter.




Tom's log book also provides us with a lot of useful details of the early test flying of Adastra's first Hudson VH-AGG.

Dave Barth has provided additional information on the location of the camera mount on VH-AGP. This aircraft was the only Hudson in the fleet with the camera in the cabin.

Noel Slarks has contributed a letter of sympathy from Bunny Hammond to his mother who was Josie Linfoot's sister. Attached to the letter is a list of persons and companies who had sent messages of condolence to the company. Thank you Noel for this poignant contribution.
Thanks to Lorraine Staniland and Jim McKnight we have added a biography for Neville Bruchhauser who learned to fly with the Adastra Flying School and later went on to fly the Bega run in the Fox Moth and aerial survey in the Dragonfly. The biography is illustrated with a wonderful portrait taken in new Guinea in 1936. From the same source we have an image of a souvenir from the first annual Adastra Dance which was held in 1931.These contributions have come to us as a result of the article in "AERO Australia". Thank you Lorraine and Jim.

Allen Windross has supplied a series of six photos of a mysterious modification to the DC-3 VH-AGU. If any reader knows what this apparatus is for please let us know. Allen has also contributed an interesting photo of the Prince VH-AGF with its belly doors open. There is also an enlarged view of the doors. Also from Allen is a familiar photo of three Hudsons parked outside Hangar 15 c.1955. A seemingly identical photo is already in Album #1, but on closer examination there are subtle differences. Compare:
Album #1 Image H3
Album #2 Image O4
And finally from Allen comes this interesting photo of himself mopping out the darkroom at Mascot. Many thanks Allen.
As a postscript to one of Dave Barth's photos, Cay Carpenter checked his father's log book and sure enough, Tom Carpenter was the camera operator on the survey of Wandoan on 29 June 1949. Although Tom was an engineer he often served as camera operator. The relevant image is here.
Dave Barth has contributed a selection of 21 photos taken during his service as a camera operator. They can be found in Album #2 Images L1 to O3. There are many fine images in this collection. Many thanks Dave for this outstanding contribution.
Added a short piece on Raydist in the hope that it will inspire readers to expand on the system. Thanks to Dave Bland for the comments and Maurie Miller for the photo.
Also added an anecdote from Joe Tidey titled "Tales of Q"
Added a biography of Bruce Beale. Thanks Bruce!
Although not an Adastra staff member, Graham Campbell has submitted a very poignant tale of his time as a young boy in Lae. "Sad Memories of Lae" is a very moving story. Thank you Graham.
The magazine article which appeared in "AERO Australia" Issue 5 of January/March 2005 has been added to the site with the kind permission of the Publisher/Editor, Stewart Wilson.
This page displays a scan of all seven pages each of which are linked to a larger image.
This page shows only the unedited text which was submitted to the magazine.
The list of Contributors has been updated. As the website matures, it is becoming more difficult to maintain this list. Could all readers please monitor this list for completeness and advise Ron if any omissions are detected. If the omission is you, please don't be modest!
Thanks to Geoff Goodall we now have a better understanding of the lifespan of Westralian Aerial Surveys. According to DCA files, Adastra applied for an Airwork Licence in the name of Westralian Air Surveys Pty. Ltd. on 24 January 1962. The Licence was issued on 1 July 1962 and was renewed each year until its expiry on 5 April 1969 after which it was not renewed. It is interesting to note that the Licence names the company as Westralian Air Surveys although it was ultimately painted on DC-3 VH-AGU and Hudson VH-AGS as Westralian Aerial Surveys. Doubtless this was to minimise repainting of the existing Adastra Aerial Surveys titles. These dates have been added to the relevant Chronology.

Added a new page for Cessna 180 VH-ASP.
Cay Carpenter has scanned many images from the photo album which belonged to his father Tom and a good selection have been added to the site. Most can be found in Photo Album #2 (Images I4 to K6) but others appear elsewhere on the site. Herewith a summary of this wonderful new material:

Australia's First Civil Anson by Tom Carpenter appeared on the site some time ago, but we have only just received two of the images that have been hitherto missing from the story.
1940s Map of the Victoria Survey
The Wrecked Cheetah Engine from VH-AVT
In order to show the necessary detail, these are large images.

Tom's album includes that familiar image of Dragonfly VH-AAD flanked by two Ansons, but thankfully Tom had the foresight to make some notes on the back of the print. We now know that the photo was taken in Ballarat in 1946 and we are now able to identify the Ansons.

Also featured in Tom's album is that classic photo of three uniformed Adastra crew posed in front of Anson VH-AGG prior to departure on the Victoria contract. Again Tom has provided for us with notes on the reverse which state; "This was our first Anson but it is Unit No 2, VH-AAD the Dragonfly was Unit No 1". This confirmation has enabled a significant update of the page on Unit Numbers.

Earlier, Cay supplied us with a wonderful 1946 photo of Anson VH-AGG with the company car and trailer only just failing to obscure the registration on the Anson. As interesting as the car and trailer are, some readers may have wished for an unobstructed view of the Anson. Again Tom has provided for us:
VH-AGG with the car
VH-AGG minus the car

Readers will be familiar with the small air-to-air photo of Hudson VH-AGG on the front cover of the "How Adastra Can Serve You" brochure. The same photo has surfaced in Tom's album but it is evident that it has been heavily retouched (in pre-Photoshop days!). Presumably a genuine photo of VH-AGG has been superimposed on a more spectacular cloudscape.

Although all of Tom's photos are remarkable, one of them is really special. It's a rare photo of Frank Follett standing in front of an Adastra Anson.

As if all this isn't enough, we also have a very entertaining account of Tom's aviation career titled "How Lucky Can You Be?". This is a very detailed and readable story which includes references to an early test flight in Hudson VH-AGG which might have ended in disaster but for the skill of Lionel Van Praag. Tom also mentions the hangar fire at Nhill which destroyed Anson VH-BGO. This is a great read!

And finally, Cay has provided three new names for the Personnel List, Issue #64 of which is now current. This brings the total to 314.

Thanks Cay for going to so much trouble to make your Dad's precious material available to us.
Added an image of Mustang A68-187 restored in the United States as N50FS "SU SU II". Thanks to Curtis Fowles.
Update #63 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 311.
The history of Dragonfly VH-AAD has been expanded thanks to Richard Waugh in NZ.
An earlier decision to retain the Mustang A68-104 on the site despite suspicions that it never belonged to Adastra, has proved fortuitous. It has now emerged that Jack McDonald lodged Applications for CofA and Registration on 14 March 1962 and that the registration VH-AGV was subsequently allotted. Sadly this is as far as it went for it is believed that the conversion of A68-104 was never even begun. Thanks to David Muir for this revelation.
Although the Adastra connection is rather tenuous, the history of Anson VH-WMA has been greatly enhanced by a contribution from Bill Withers. Bill was once the Senior Cloud Seeding Officer with the CSIRO and he is therefore the ideal person to describe the CSIRO's use of VH-WMA in rain-making activities. Thank you Bill for a very informative and entertaining contribution.
Thanks to David Prossor, John Collins' story Adastra and the Single Engine Survey Aircraft now includes a photograph of Cessna 180 VH-ASP with Adastra Aerial Surveys titles. Many thanks Dave!
A recent chance discovery by aviation historian Geoff Goodall suggested that when Australia was visited by the Westinghouse survey Douglas DC-6B in 1970 there may have been an Adastra connection. Kevin Pavlich put the question to Mike Wood who responded with an unequivocal; "Yes, I navigated on it!"

Mike has now consulted his diaries and come up with chapter and verse on Adastra and the Westinghouse DC-6B. Geoff Goodall has contributed a photo of the DC-6 taken in Perth during the survey and Gordon Reid has supplied the full history of the aeroplane. Given that your Webmaster visited Miami in 1980, I thought that I should check my photo files - just in case. To my astonishment, I discovered that I had photographed a rather decrepit DC-6B registered 5N-APS - the former Westinghouse flagship. This indefinable sense of "meant to be" has been an ongoing feature whenever Mike puts pen to paper, so it is to be hoped that we can look forward to many more such contributions. Enjoy Adastra and the Westinghouse DC-6B
Thanks to Nigel Daw, John Collins' story Adastra and the Single Engine Survey Aircraft now includes a photograph of Cessna 180 VH-ASP, albeit taken several years after Adastra operated the aircraft.

Update #62 of the Personnel List is now current. The total is now 310.
John Collins has provided an interesting insight into Adastra's use of single engine survey aircraft. John has also contributed several new names to the Personnel List. Although we are becoming accustomed to regular additions to the list of people, we don't often receive additions to the list of aircraft! John has informed us that the company used the Cessna 180 VH-ASP from 1965 to 1967 before it was replaced by the more familiar Cessna 185 VH-AGE. Thanks to John's input, the following pages have been added or updated:

Adastra and the Single Engine Survey Aircraft
Personnel List Update #61 (the count is now 306)
Fleet List (adding VH-ASP)

Dr Noel Sproles has kindly given us permission to reprint his article "Arduous Times with Adastra" which describes his time in the Army when he was involved with Adastra on the Aerodist project.

Brian Lees has provided us with his biography as well as an amusing Lionel anecdote titled Lionel and the Tiger.
We are receiving a steady stream of photos from Cay Carpenter. These will be added to the site as soon as possible. In the meantime, one magnificent photo from Tom Carpenter's album has really set the cat amongst the pigeons! Many of the Anson photos on the site have been identified on the basis that only VH-AGO had the round cabin windows. Imagine therefore what it would do to our theories if someone came up with a photo of Anson VH-AGG with the same round cabin windows. Here is such a photo! This revelation has had most impact on the caption to the 1946 photo of the Dragonfly flanked by two Ansons. It also means that the air-to-air photo of an Anson thought to be VH-AGO might depict VH-AGG.
Thanks to Angela Bigg (Gordon Bigg's grand-daughter) we have added Gordon's biography and several photos from his album (See Album #2, images H6, I1, I2 & I3). Can anyone identify the gentleman on the left in image I2? Gordon is currently in retirement on the Gold Coast. Many thanks Gordon and Angela.
Seeing that Alex Whitworth was good enough to send us his biography directly from the South Atlantic, and given that his fame is increasing daily, I thought that I should add a page on Alex.
Wow! It's been more than a month since the previous update. This doesn't mean that I have abandoned the site but it is probably indicative of my preoccupation with a new project, details of which will have to wait until later. In any case, things have been quiet in terms of the information coming in but we continue to make useful contacts. As a result of the "AERO" article, Kevin has received a letter from Alan Thomas of the Camden Museum of Aviation. Anson fans will be aware that they are the custodians of Adastra's VH-AGA. You can read the salient points from Alan's letter on either the page for VH-AGA or VH-BLF (look under 1964 in the chronology). It seems that more of BLF survives than we had previously imagined. We are grateful to George Charlwood for identifying two more personnel in this photo. One of the people George has identified is himself, a subject on which he is a world authority! The other is John Nancarrow.

As a result of the Adastra article in AERO Australia magazine, we have been contacted by Cay Carpenter whose late father Tom was an engineer with Adastra when the Ansons first went into service. Indeed it was Tom who first fitted Oxford cowls to an Australian Anson. Cay was delighted to see a photo of his Dad in the AERO article but sadly Tom passed away before the article was published. Information in Tom's papers has enabled us to update the caption to this photo as we now know that it was taken in October 1945 just before Anson VH-AGG departed Mascot to enter service on the contract to survey all of Victoria. This was an important event for Adastra so this probably explains the extra "spit and polish" by the crew. Cay Carpenter has provided us with this photo of his parents posing with Gordon Bigg, an Adastra pilot from the post-war period and currently living on the Gold Coast. Also included in Tom Carpenter's papers is the story of his involvement in the fitment of Oxford cowls to the Ansons. The story also mentions a very close call in Anson VH-AVT. Cay Carpenter, who is currently a Captain on the Fokker 100 with Alliance Airlines, is hoping that the family photo album might yield even more of these treasures. Thank you Cay!

Continuing with the Anson theme, it would appear that we have struck the "Anson mother lode" as we have received an outstanding contribution from George Charlwood who was an engineer with Adastra from 1945 until the late fifties. As well as many wonderful photos, George has also contributed a detailed biography. Most of George's photos appear in Album #2 (G5 to H5 incl) but several others appear on the aircraft history pages as follow:

GC-01 Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD
GC-02 Dragonfly VH-AAD
GC-03 Dragonfly VH-AAD
GC-05 Anson VH-AGO
GC-06 Anson VH-AGO
GC-11 Anson VH-BKZ
GC-13 Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD
GC-14 Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD
GC-15 Anson VH-AGO
GC-16 Dragonfly VH-AAD
After a post-war overhaul
Taken circa 1946
George working on a Gipsy Major
With original helmet cowls
Air-to-Air! Don't miss this gem!
50 hourly at Mildura
Showing "Unit No 2" on the door
Taken in May 1945
A better print of an existing image
Showing the Adastra emblem on the door

Another photo contribution comes from Edge Adams. It shows a very crowded Adastra hangar at Mascot with Anson VH-AVT (later VH-AGA) occupying centre stage with a Hudson (believed to be VH-AGG) and a DH-84 Dragon (probably VH-AGC). The earthworks going on outside the hangar suggest that this photo was taken soon after the company occupied Hangar 13. Thanks Edge for this fascinating photo.

All of this wonderful material has prompted a reappraisal of the Unit Numbers which were allocated to Adastra survey aircraft in the early days. The revised table appears here.

Updates #58 and #59 of the Personnel List have been added. This brings the count to 304.

As a follow-up to Joe Tidey's story about "Adastra Green", we have received some additional material from Sir Reginald Barnewall who was one of the founders of Polynesian Airlines. Several Adastra staff (known to include Ken Rowlands, Jim Hilferty and Joe Tidey) worked for Polynesian Airlines but we now know that the Adastra connection went further than this. Thanks Sir Reg. Please enjoy:
It's Not Easy Being Green #2
Update #57 of the Personnel List is now current. This brings the count to 302.
Brian Jelfs has been able to supply all of the names to go with this group photo.
Chris O'Neill has extracted several files on Hudson VH-AGE (and its earlier incarnations) from the National Archives and as a consequence, our history of this aeroplane has been greatly enhanced. Many thanks Chris!
Warren Ide has put us in touch with Brian Jelfs who was a Photogrammetrist from 1957 to 1972. Brian has contributed five wonderful photos which have been added to Album #2 as images F5 to G3. Image G3 reveals yet another car to come from the Hangar 13 paint shop. This one isn't green however! Image F5 is one of those guessing competitions where you get to put names to unidentified staff members.
Update #55 of the Personnel List is now current. This brings the count to 301.
Joe Tidey has contributed a fascinating story about "Adastra Green". This story throws new light on how the company came to adopt this unusual colour. Thanks Joe. Please enjoy:
It's Not Easy Being Green
Update #54 of the Personnel List is now current. This brings the count to 300.
Thanks again to Ed Coates, I have added another photo of Adastra's short-lived Anson VH-BKZ. This one was taken outside Hangar 15 at Mascot in the early fifties.
Thanks again to Ed Coates, I have been able to add a very nice image of East-West Airlines Hudson VH-EWE which later became Adastra's VH-AGE.
Two new images have been added to the site.
Anson VH-AGA at Essendon in the late fifties - thanks to Ed Coates
Hudsons VH-AGP & VH-AGS stored at Tamworth - thanks to Richard Hitchins
Update #53 of the Personnel List is now current. This brings the count to 298.
Count 10 Lighthouses and Turn Right:
While most of us are spending Boxing Day enjoying Christmas dinner leftovers, Adastrian Alex Whitworth is battling his way south at the helm of his yacht Berrimilla in the annual Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Alex is no stranger to the race, this being his eleventh trip to Hobart. On each previous occasion, at the completion of the race, Alex has counted the same ten lighthouses again and turned left. However, on this occasion, Alex will sail on beyond Hobart via Cape Horn and the Falklands to the U.K. to compete in the Fastnet Race. Berrimilla will return to Australia via the Cape of Good Hope in time to compete in next year's Sydney Hobart. Alex has created a website for Berrimilla so that we can track his progress beyond Hobart. His progress in the Sydney Hobart can be tracked on the official Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race website. We wish Alex and his crew fair winds and God speed.


Yacht Tracker
And now for something completely different. Former Adastra Hudson pilot, Rick Geary, has sent us a link from which Flight Simulator enthusiasts can download an instrument panel for the Hudson. This panel was designed by Roger Lowery and it is based on the panel of the former VH-AGJ which is now displayed at the RAF Museum, Hendon. It will be interesting to hear if we have any Flight Simmers amongst our readership. The download link is actually located on another of Ron Cuskelly's websites, "The Lockheed File" here.

A brief history of Adastra is now in print. The January/March issue (Number 5) of "AERO Australia" magazine features a 7 page article on Adastra. The article includes 16 photographs from our website as well as a table of survey aircraft operated by Adastra. The photos are drawn from the collections of Dora Payens, Alex Whitworth, Jack Howard, Maurie Miller, Allan Walker, Peter Shute, Kevin Pavlich, Bob Cozens and Ron Cuskelly. Look for it in your newsagent now.

Ed Coates has sent us two photos from long AGO. As readers may suspect from the dreadful pun, they depict VH-AGO, both the Anson and the Hudson. Although Ed is first to admit that the quality of the Anson photo isn't the best, it is a very interesting photo for several reasons. Firstly, it shows what must be Hangar 15 without the company name but with evidence of the former occupant's name having been painted out. Secondly, it shows the aeroplane wearing Oxford cowls. Thirdly, it shows clearly that VH-AGO retained the round cabin windows, the only Adastra Anson to do so. This gives us an interesting sequence of photos on the page for Anson VH-AGO; with helmet cowls, with no cowls and with Oxford cowls. The photo sans cowls is believed to depict the transition from one type to the other. Many thanks Ed for these wonderful photos.
Anson VH-AGO
Hudson VH-AGO
Update #52 of the Personnel List is now current. This brings the count to 295.
A recent enquiry from Derek Minter prompted some further research into the reported demise of Dave Brennan. Sadly, this research has confirmed that Dave was killed in an air crash on 22nd February 1977. Further details here.
Update #51 of the Personnel List is now current. This brings the count to 294.
One of our more prolific contributors, Maurie Miller, has penned an interesting account of laundry procedures in the field. Thanks Maurie.
Update #50 of the Personnel List is now current. The count remains at 292.
Thanks to Ed Coates, I have been able to add two new images of the Dragonfly VH-AAD.
with Bush Pilots Airways
with the Griffith Aero Club

Before he emigrated to the USA in the fifties, Ed accumulated a wonderful photographic collection of Australian civil aircraft in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Several of Ed's photos already appear on the Adastra site. Recently, Ed decided to share his collection with the rest of the world by launching his own website. www.edcoatescollection.com is well worth a visit. Indeed it's worth repeated visits as Ed is adding to the site on an almost daily basis.
Since the inception of the website project, Kevin Pavlich has done a wonderful job of co-ordinating all of the submissions and generally making the job of Webmaster much easier. Kevin recently observed that contributions have reached a plateau. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it has enabled Kevin to spend more time recording his own experiences with Adastra! As a result, we are able to present a very detailed account of Survey Navigation in the Avro Anson. Thanks Kevin for this wonderful contribution.
Geoff Goodall has provided some additional information on the Catalina VH-AGB. This material was sourced from DCA files in the National Archives of Australia. Thanks Geoff.
We have been contacted by Dave Richards who is now the 292nd addition to the Personnel List, Update #49 of which is now current. Dave has contributed several interesting photos for which we thank him. Included amongst these are photos of the dingo pup and one of the donkeys which travelled from Hall's Creek to Sydney on DC-3 VH-AGU. These photos have enabled us to illustrate Derek Minter's account of this incident. Five of Dave's photos appear in Album #2 as images E6 to F4 inclusive. Another four photos have been added to the page for DC-3 VH-AGU:
AGU in Hangar 13
AGU fogbound at Oodnadatta
The Gamma Ray Spectrometer in AGU
The Gamma Ray Spectrometer in AGU
Ted McKenzie has discovered something in his log book which has prompted a re-examination of the Hudson Magnetometer Boom installation. It now seems that the test flights were with VH-AGE and not VH-AGS as previously believed. Thanks for this contribution Ted.
For some reason which I can no longer remember, I decided to invoke the power of Google to search for "Adastra". The results astonished me. There were nearly two hundred thousand of them! Although many are duplications, it is quite clear that the name is a popular one. One wonders however, if any of them can trace their ancestry back to 1930. Nevertheless, some are worthy custodians of the name and others are not. The page titled "The Other Adastras" has been expanded accordingly and there is even a Google search button if you want to do your own search. Don't miss the catamaran.
Wal Bowles has contributed a fine piece titled "Operating the Anson". This can be found on the Operations Menu. Thanks Wal.
Update #48 of the Personnel List is now current. The count is now 291.
Update #47 of the Personnel List is now current. Thanks to Warren Ide for contributing three new names and service dates for five others. The count is now 290.
Update #46 of the Personnel List is now current.
Update #45 of the Personnel List is now current. This brings the total on the list to 287.
One of our more prolific contributors, Wal Bowles, has submitted an item which was originally intended as a piece of Adastriana but it was felt that this would not do justice to what is a serious examination of a significant operational matter. Accordingly, Wal's report on Flight Time Limitations can be found on the Operations menu.
It is said that all electronic devices work on smoke. Proof of this lies in the fact that once the smoke escapes, they don't work any more! Maurie Miller has provided an amusing "smoke" story from his time on the Catalina. The story is called A Wake Up Call.
Thanks to Allen Windross we have been able to add something different to the site. Allen's family lived in Lords Road, Lauriston Park which may not mean a lot to many readers. However, in the late fifties, Lords Road was renamed Vickers Avenue and the location was by then known as Mascot. Allen's family home was only four doors removed from Adastra's headquarters! Not only did Allen live in Adastra's "patch" but he also went to work for them from 1954 to 1965. To his great credit, Allen decided to record his reminiscences, principally for submission to the Pagewood Library, but he has also made the document available to us. At first glance, this very comprehensive account of life in suburban Sydney may not appear relevant to the Adastra site. However, what Allen has done is to describe in great detail what it was like living and working in Adastra's "patch" for more than twenty years."Growing up on the Lauriston Park Estate" will be a trip down memory lane for many Adastrians and Sydneysiders. If more people followed Allen's example, the job of future historians would be much easier!
The previous update records that Warren Ide made contact with the team and provided a remarkable 16 additional names to go on the list of Adastra personnel. However, Warren's most remarkable contribution has been held over while we worked up a special page to do it justice. It will be recalled that we previously wondered what happened to the ornate glass doors from Adastra's Vickers Avenue headquarters at Mascot. Warren has solved that mystery for us. He and his good wife Madeline, at the instigation of Jack Townsend, saved those doors from the demolishers back in 1976! The best news is that the doors survive to this day in the George Hanna Memorial Museum in the Mascot Library. Read all about The Doors.
The "discovery" of the doors poses another question. What happened to the brass plaque?

Another addition is a close-up photograph of the nose of Hudson VH-AGG showing the inscription "Air Survey Unit No 6". For this we thank Allen Windross.
Update #44 of the Personnel List is now current. Thanks to Warren Ide there have been no fewer than 16 additions to the list. Have you ever wondered how many names there are on the list? Well wonder no more. I have counted them and there are 285. This is no mean achievement when you consider that the list had to be built from scratch with no official company lists to work from. Although we have come a long way, the really big question is how much farther do we have to go before the list is complete. Sadly we may never know, but it would be interesting to receive some percentage estimates from some of the long-serving Adastrians. So that we can keep a running tally of names on the list, I have added another column to the table of updates on the Personnel List.

Warren has also filled in a couple of blanks in the caption to the reunion photo. (Len Brock and Jan Cumberland).
We always knew that it was Adastra Hudson VH-AGE which located a missing Wackett Trainer in the desert of South Australia in 1965. Thanks to Rob Hornsby, we now know more about the incident and we also have photographs to illustrate this tragic tale. Have a read of "The Missing Wackett" and see if you are not moved by this poignant story.
Update #43 of the Personnel List is now current.
Terry Smith has provided us with a fascinating biography of his father, Alan Brierley Smith. Thank you Terry and Alan.
There is a new page on the Company menu. It is called "The Other Adastras" and it will be used as a repository for latter day users of the Adastra name - some good and some not so good. Read about the raincoat and the vineyard.
Ken Richards has contributed an interesting tale about the Sycamore helicopter charter in Tasmania. It is titled "Chasing Birds in Tasmania".
Update #42 of the Personnel List is now current.
Ken Richards has supplied his own biography as well as correcting the captions to several of the photos from his time in the company. Thanks Ken.
Added a new colour image of Hudson VH-AGE at Maralinga in 1964 thanks to Rob Hornsby.
Thanks to Joe Tidey and Ken Richards we have been able to add 8 new images to Photo Album #2. These images are labelled D4 to E5 inclusive.
Added a close-up photo of the Doppler antenna fairing on DC-3 VH-AGU thanks to Joe Tidey.
Added a close-up photo of the nose markings on Prince G-AMLW thanks to Ken Richards.
From 1974 to 1979, DC-3 VH-AGU (by then with East-West Airlines) was used on trials of the Australian developed Interscan Microwave Landing System. Roger McDonald has supplied dates relevant to these trials and these have been added to the page on VH-AGU along with links to the website of the Civil Aviation Historical Society which describes Interscan in detail.

The June 2004 edition of the British magazine "FlyPast" features a four-page article (plus a centrefold) on Hudson VH-KOY (the former VH-AGS). Several facts from this article have been added to the history of VH-AGS.

Several updates have been added to the page for Catalina VH-AGB thanks to David Legg.
The page on Adastra's early airline operations has been expanded thanks to several newspaper cuttings supplied by Roger McDonald. According to the Sydney Morning Herald of 6th February 1934, there were two aeroplanes which operated the inaugural service to Bega. Whilst it is known that one was the Fox Moth VH-UQU, the identity of an accompanying Gipsy Moth is unknown, although it was possibly either VH-UOQ or VH-UOR. Thanks for this contribution Roger.
Thanks to Rick Geary we have a new page about Van Praag Place in the A.C.T. Rick has also provided a series of photographs of Lionel's street. Thank you Rick.
Update #41 of the Personnel List is now current. The Guestbook has been modified so that the date is automatically inserted and no longer needs to be manually selected from a drop-down menu. Several transparent changes will hopefully result in fewer spam attacks and fewer blank entries.
Update #40 of the Personnel List is now current.
Joe Tidey's new word "Adastriana" made such an impression on Kevin and Ron that we have decided that the "Personal Anecdotes" page should be renamed "ADASTRIANA".
Aero Commander VH-KRA has certainly seen better days, but it is nice to know that her mortal remains are serving a useful purpose. What is left of the airframe is now mounted on a trailer and used for fire fighting and rescue drills at Mackay Airport. Thanks to Cliff Robinson for this recent photo.
Joe Tidey has contributed another anecdote, this one titled "Shunting". Joe has also contributed a new (to this writer anyway) word - "Adastriana".
A new page has been added to the "People" menu. "Where Are They Now?" is intended as a repository for biographical information about Adastra staff for whom the available data is insufficient for a dedicated biography page. The first thing readers will notice about the new page is that there is only one name on it! Hopefully, the many Adastrians who visit this site will soon rectify this shortcoming. This new avenue of expression may have particular appeal to those Adastrians for whom a brief period of employment or modesty may have precluded aspirations to a dedicated biography page. Please forward all contributions to Ron.
Update #38 of the Personnel List is now current. We also have a new anecdote from that most prolific contributor Wal Bowles. Who Moved the Sun? is Wal's 11th contribution to the Anecdotes section. Many thanks Wal.
Update #37 of the Personnel List is now current. Two new biographies have been added to the site:
John Bertles tells of his time with Adastra and of his part in the designing of the Adastra Hunting emblem.
Linda Drake has supplied a wonderfully detailed biography of her mother, Pat Gregory, who passed away in April. This story provides an interesting insight into the life of a remarkable woman.
Update #36 of the Personnel List is now current. This includes several corrections supplied by Ted McKenzie. Ted also advises that photo Z3 in Photo Album #1 misidentifies Derek Middleton as Al Palmer. Thanks Ted.
Joe Tidey has contributed a comical anecdote titled Guard of Honour. Thanks Joe.
The fact that so little remains of Adastra's history, emphasises the importance of preserving what we have been able to gather together for this website. Although a website is capable of disseminating a vast amount of material in a short time, the "mortality" of web sites is a major concern. Fortunately, the National Library of Australia has addressed this problem through their Pandora project. Under this project, selected websites are archived on the NLA website and in the NLA offline archives. Pandora also recognises the importance of keeping pace with advances in technology so that archived resources are always accessible. With all these positives in mind, the Adastra website was recently submitted to Pandora for consideration. It is most pleasing to report that the site has been accepted for archiving. This means that our work will be preserved in perpetuity, to use the term favoured by the Pandora team. This provides much comfort to the webmaster in the event of the "under a bus tomorrow" scenario! In the short term, there may not appear to be any advantages to archiving as there will always be a time lag between the archived version and the "master" site. However, it was recently demonstrated that there are short term advantages. Towards the end of May, for reasons I won't go into, the adastron domain was "off the air" for several days. Had there been an urgent need to refer to the Adastra site during this outage (to check the personnel list for example) it would have been possible to do so on the NLA website. Full marks to whoever thought of Pandora! Read more about Pandora here.



For earlier updates please refer to the Archived Updates page.