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Flt Lt Ted McKenzie (left) and his navigator Flt Lt Ivan Pretty exchanging a camera magazine on a Mosquito.
(Click for a larger image)

Ted McKenzie joined the RAAF in 1941 and trained as a pilot. In 1943 he flew Beauforts in New Guinea with No 100 Squadron after which he became an instructor on the type. He stayed in the RAAF after the war and was posted to the Central Flying School in 1947. In 1951, Flight Lieutenant McKenzie joined No 87 (PR) Sqn as the Squadron Flying Instructor and shortly after, Dick Glassey and Leon Gordon (both future Adastrians) were posted in as newly qualified pilots. On 16 October 1951, Ted was taking-off from RAAF Fairbairn in Mosquito A52-304 when the port engine failed, necessitating an immediate belly landing from which he walked away. On 17 May 1952, Mosquito A52-302 flown by Ted McKenzie and A52-305 flown by Dick Glassey (with Graham Holstock as navigator) departed Canberra for Amberley on the first leg of a detachment to Fiji to undertake an aerial survey on behalf of the Fiji Government. Both Mosquitoes along with a support Dakota arrived in Fiji on 20 May. Ted described the Fiji detachment in the book "Mosquito Monograph" (written and published by David Vincent in 1982):

"The survey commenced on 22 May but was plagued by bad weather which soon led us to dropping off the 100 gallon wing tanks to improve the climb rate - obviously we were not going to get the opportunity to use the full range of the aircraft. To economise, we adopted a practice of scrambling one aircraft early and calling off the second if there appeared to be no prospect of photography. The facilities at Nadi airport were good although the darkroom was not air-conditioned and we had to improve both the ventilation and the light tightness. We ran into further trouble with the processing of film and a great deal of the film exposed was affected by a series of marks similar to liquid drop marks. A great deal of research and monitoring of techniques failed to isolate the trouble and specimens of film were sent back to Australia for processing. As far as I can recall, the problem was never actually solved and remained as one of the frustrations of the operation. As originally conceived, I believe the survey was to last until the end of June, but was extended due to the difficulties encountered until mid August. Eventually about 95% of the area required was covered. The two aircraft, with a C-47 lead aircraft, left Nadi on 13 August and completed the trip to Amberley via Tontouta on the same day. Both aircraft returned to Canberra on the following day."

Another overseas detachment by 87 Sqn took place in January 1953 when two Mosquitoes were based at Port Moresby for the purpose of photographing the Dutch New Guinea border from Hollandia to the Fly River delta. This operation was plagued by bad weather and cloud cover and it wasn't until 26 February and 7 April that one Mosquito succeeded in photographing 90% of the border area in just two flights. These flights were crewed by Flight Sergeant Leon Gordon (pilot) and Flight Sergeant Holstock (navigator). Both men were later to join Adastra.

Ted McKenzie took over as Commanding Officer of 87 Sqn on 1 July 1953 after Claude Browne was posted. In August 1953, RAAF Mosquito operations came to a close when four 87 Sqn aircraft returned to Canberra after a survey in Western Australia. The crews of the four Mosquitoes included Ted McKenzie, Mike Wood, Leon Gordon and Graham Holstock, all of whom were destined to join Adastra. While en route to Canberra, A52-308 crewed by Leon Gordon and Graham Holstock, performed the last RAAF Mosquito photographic survey flight (over Noonkanbah, W.A.). In September 1953, Ted was posted to RAAF HQ and by December, 87 Sqn had been disbanded. The squadron's contribution to the aerial survey of Australia is described thus by David Vincent, author of "Mosquito Monograph":

"There is certainly no doubt as to the important role which No 87 Sqn performed in the aerial photographic survey of Australia postwar. Altogether, this work undertaken by the RAAF covered two thirds of the continent, the bulk of it being carried out by Mosquitoes. It was to take another 10 years for civil contractors to finish the job."

Ted left the RAAF in 1954 to take up a position managing the Broken Hill Aero Club. In April 1955, he left Broken Hill after a memorable social encounter with Dick Glassey and crew (which included Mike Wood) enticed him to join Adastra.

Initially, he took over from Bob Keeling as pilot of the Prince and concentrated on geophysics with Jack Tierney until the arrival of the Catalina in November 1957. Ted was endorsed on the Catalina by Jim Greenshields, Kenting’s pilot. He flew either the Prince or the Catalina as required from then on until Joe Linfoot’s death in 1957, following which he was nominated as Chief Pilot and approved by DCA. In September 1957, Ted was endorsed on the Hudson by Lionel Van Praag who had been called in for that specific purpose. During his time at Adastra, Ted held the positions of Chief Pilot and Operations Manager and was responsible for pilot check and training. He continued in this capacity until March 1965 when he handed over Hudson VH-AGE to Keith Cooper at Maralinga after which he returned to Sydney and left Adastra.

In July 1965, he went to Aero Service Ltd to fly their Aero Commander 680F VH-MJJ on geophysics survey (mainly magnetometer). In this aircraft, which was fitted with Doppler and radiometric detection equipment, Ted did two trips to New Zealand and one each to New Guinea and Japan.

In January 1968, he left Gale Air (as Aero Service was then known) and went to New South Wales Region with the Air Safety Investigation Branch. Wal Bowles (another former Adastrian) was also there at this time. Late in 1969, Ted went to Head Office Air Safety and remained there until retirement in December 1980.

Due to the good offices of Bill Mitchell, Ted was able to “taper off” after retirement with some casual work on the Super Catalina VH-EXG belonging to Geoterrex. This consisted of a few weeks work, usually once a year, until 1984 when at the age of 64, eyesight problems prompted him to retire permanently.

This biography was compiled from notes supplied to Ron Cuskelly by Ted McKenzie in June 2006. References to the operations of No 87 (PR) Squadron RAAF are drawn from "Mosquito Monograph" (ISBN 0 9596052 1 5) which was written and published by David Vincent in 1982.