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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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".
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."
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
to Follett: Approving a subsidy of £1,754 per annum.
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."
DGCA: Requesting approval of a six day per week Bega service to
the following schedule to be effective from 17JUN40.
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."
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.
to Adastra: Subsidy on Sydney-Bega route will be discontinued from
to Follett: In response to a telegram of protest from Follett, Corbett
advises that the subsidy must be discontinued because of the war
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
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."
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."
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
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).
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".
Air Transport took over the Sydney - Bega route from Adastra.
(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."
Eagle Mk II VH-UUY disposed.
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), 8¼" (2 off) focal length.
One Eagle III with lenses of 10", 8¼" and 5" focal
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 2½ hours before and after noon. The following prices
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
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.
Contracts Board, Melbourne: Submitting quotations for the following
(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
from K. Washington Gray, Chief Geologist, Australasian Petroleum
Company to DCA: In response to DCA's request of same date, forwarding
(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
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.
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.
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."
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."
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:
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.
to Follett: The Department agrees to most of the changes requested
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
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
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.
of Survey, Dept of the Army to DGCA: Forwarding the requested map.
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."
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.
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."
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."
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.
to Follett: Disallowing the £274 claimed on the reconditioning of
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."
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."
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?"
to Follett: A mollifying letter again rejects the claims on the
Dragonfly and the interest on the bank overdraft.
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
"A satisfactory report has been received on 80 square miles
in Murwillumbah and 523 square miles in Nimbin."
of Survey, Dept of the Army to DGCA: The following areas are to
be added to the contract:
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.
to DGCA: A highly indignant and strongly worded four-page letter
again challenges the Department's interpretations of Adastra's costs.
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
to DGCA: Again requesting payment from the Army as company is "exceedingly
hard pressed for funds".
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.
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."
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 2½%. 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".
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
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."
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.
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."
YKS-6 VH-UYD disposed.
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.
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".
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
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".
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
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
A hand-written note, apparently by E.C. Johnston and dated 19OCT45
"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".
to DCA Sydney (Telegram): "Advise Adastra urgently approval
granted operation Anson VH-AGG on survey work at all up weight 8200
VH-AGG registered to Adastra Airways.
VH-AGO registered to Adastra Airways.
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
for Air to Follett: Advising that he will examine the matter and
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.
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.
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.
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".
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
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
VH-AVT registered to Adastra Airways.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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,
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.
to Aerial Survey Exhibition at Elstree.
to Williamson Works at Willesden.
to Ordnance Survey at Chessington.
to the Percival Aircraft Co. Ltd., Luton Airports, Beds. Display
of aircraft and equipment at Luton Airport, contributors include
six leading aircraft manufacturing companies.
to Directorate of Colonial Survey at Kingston on Thames and
General Survey Dept., War Office.
to Royal Aeronautical Establishment at Farnborough."
Conference was due to conclude.
Transport" FEB47 p.9
Contributed by David Vincent.
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.
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).
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".
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
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.
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!
VH-BGO registered to Adastra Airways.
VH-BGO destroyed in a hangar fire at Nhill.
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
VH-BKZ registered to Adastra Airways.