|Last updated 16 February 2023|
| ITINERANT EUROPEAN MIGRANT CHARTER FLIGHTS TO AUSTRALIA 1947-1949|
three years of remarkable long-distance flying, thousands of
European migrants were brought to Australia on a variety of aircraft|
flown by Australian and foreign airlines and air charter operators, eager to join this lucrative market immediately after World War II.
In the idiom of the day for the aircrew involved, mostly former wartime fliers, it was known as "The Migrant Caper"
|Compiled by Geoff Goodall|
|US charter operator Skyways International flew Curtiss C-46 Commandos on migrant charters from Europe to Australia.|
Here NC1648M reloads at Makassar (now Ujung Pandang, Indonesia) after refuelling enroute Singapore to Darwin.
Photo: Air History.net Photo archive
By 1948 foreign airlines had joined the Australian migrant charter bonanza. SAIDE Egypte Savoia-Marchetti SM.95 SU-AFC
clears Australian Customs at Darwin NT in February 1949 on one of its many Australian runs. Photo by Phil McCulloch
An extraordinary chapter of Australia’s civil aviation history, which
has gone largely unrecorded, occurred during the early post World War II period of
ad-hoc charter flights carrying migrants from Europe to
Australia. It commenced in 1947 with a handful of flights by
Australian charter companies, flying mostly civilianised ex RAAF
transports and bombers purchased from military disposals. As word
spread, more and more European and British individuals and families
were prepared to pay the prices asked to escape war-ravaged Europe
and long delays waiting for shipping. |
At the time, the Australian government was sponsoring European migrants using occasional chartered shipping. On 12 March 1947, 786 mostly Jewish survivors of the Nazi holocaust arrived at Cairns on board the immigrant ship Johann de Wit. A Yugoslav steamer arrived in January 1948 with 808 European migrants. By the following year the numbers had increased sharply, with 27,000 migrants, of whom 18,000 came from the Great Britain, arrived by sea in the first six months of 1948. In August 1948 the Federal government stated that it would accept all the immigrants that available shipping could carry. 105, 104
But long shipping delays and uncertainty resulted in European travel agencies receiving many enquiries about air travel to Australia from those who had the funds. BOAC and Qantas Empire Airways were struggling to establish their post-war London-Sydney services with ex military types while waiting for their orders for modern airliners like Constellations, and airline seats were almost impossible to book.
Thus began the demand for charter flights, arranged with travel agencies and middle-men, outside Australian Government immigration programs. Eight Australian air charter operators joined IN, flying a range of aircraft, from Lockheed Hudsons and Lodestars, Douglas DC-2s, DC-3s and a DC-5, to Sunderland flying boats and even a DH.86 biplane to and from Europe. It took three years before these itinerant charters were stopped, by which time the business had grown, with many foreign companies joining the bonanza with larger aircraft.
From 1950 passage of migrants to Australia was closely controlled by the Australian Government, the majority travelling by sea, but when needed, scheduled airlines or Government sanctioned airline charter flights.
| SETTING THE SCENE|
A collection of direct quotes describing the itinerant migrant air charter era
|1 Flypast, a Record of Aviation in Australia, N. M. Parnell and T. W. Boughton, CAA 1988:|
“11 August 1947: Strong pressures for immigration to Australia were building up in the face of apparent inaction by the Australian government; claims on the use of aircraft to transport migrants were officially labelled as “impractical”, but during the following 12 months a number of small operators began to fly migrants to Australia; initially the services were tolerated, but as they expanded they were seen as a threat to scheduled services of Qantas Empire Airways and BOAC and the Department of Civil Aviation began to refuse landing applications for entry into Australia........ the restrictions were eased in August 1949 when private non-scheduled flights would be approved; 17 November 1949 Mr Drakeford introduced this new situation in response to claims that overseas operators were being permitted to carry migrants to Australia while Australian firms could not; 18 November 1949 both Guinea Air Traders and Australian National Airways Pty Ltd disputed the Minister’s statement claiming it was not in accordance with the facts; by then the Government had organised a scheme of assisted migration mainly be sea as shipping lines were re-established.”
2. Flight Magazine (Great Britain) 4 December 1947:
“Charter Flights for Immigrants
There has been a rapid development of the charter business in Australia. Intercontinental Air Tours are conducting charter flights for immigrants from the UK and the Continent, and Trans-Oceanic Airways are engaged on charter flights to bring Greeks from Athens. A new company, known as European Air Transport Co has been formed to begin operations on charters between Athens and Sydney to carry the hundreds of Greeks who are endeavoring to reach Australia.”
3. Doug Fawcett, in his book Pilots and Propellers, Crawford House 1997:
“After two years as Butler Air Transport chief engineer at Sydney Airport I was feeling a little restless when a Nicaraguan pilot came into the Mascot hangar and asked if I could repair his Curtiss C-46..... I spoke to Arthur Butler, who said he did not want anything to do with itinerant aeroplanes, but if I wanted to assist this gentleman after hours he would not mind. This marked the beginning of my personal business life in aviation. I gathered around me a few good mechanics, repaired the aeroplane to the pilot’s satisfaction and was paid accordingly.
At that time there were itinerant aircraft bringing people into Sydney from all parts of Europe. They were certainly an odd bunch of aeroplanes, German, Egyptian, American, you name it, often in need of repairs or inspection, so I hired a hangar at Camden and had my brother and several engineers run it for me.” 10
4. Captain H.W.G. (Warren) Penny, Managing Director of Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney:
“I interviewed the Australian Immigration Minister Mr. Arthur Caldwell in London and he, in front of witnesses, told us to “go to it and bring as many Greek and Italian migrants as we could carry” and gave us his blessing in the venture. On arrival back in Sydney I found that our agents had hopelessly overbooked us and committed us months in advance to carry migrants. As many of these people had already left their homes, I set out to try and meet our commitments. I bought from RAAF Disposals another Lodestar and two more Hudsons and bumped up the staff at Intercontinental Air Maintenance to 57 employees, all ex-servicemen.
I left almost immediately for England in the original Hudson VH-ASV and was away five months and whilst I was in England purchased a DH.86 and another Lodestar, both of which brought out British migrants.
About this time, the Department of Civil Aviation started getting tough. They stopped us from carrying either passengers or freight out of the country (except perishables), forced us to carry engineers and Flight Navigators and cabin attendants, and also forced us to pay £20 and then up to £45 for cabling to overseas countries for permission to cross. We had previously been doing this for ourselves at the cost of about £10. They also took away our Intercontinental Air Maintenance Licence as a metal workshop on a technicality, and generally became most uncooperative.
Up to now we had made four Australia-Europe return flights, and two England-Australia flights without any hold ups, conveying 82 migrants in, and some 20 - 30 people out, as well as small amounts of freight. Inflicting all these DCA regulations on us made it terribly difficult to continue operations. Two extra crew on a Lockheed cut down our passenger seating and freight out of the country meant we were operating on a 50% loading.” 11
|THE DARKER SIDE|
The migrant itinerant air charter period saw a variety of aircraft
types, some operated by small aviation businesses with limited funding,
flying vast distances between European airports and Australia. In
retrospect it is remarkable that none were lost, given that most
operators had no organised maintenance support enroute and operational
aspects such as crew training, crew rest, radio communications and
flight planning was vastly inadequate by today's standards. It was
simply seat-of-the-pants flying by rugged individualists, the majority
being recently demobilised World War II military aircrew.|
A darker side to the story concerns false identities used by some of the migrants carried, allegations of carriage of illegal goods, black market items and smuggling individuals out of Australia. Two migrant aircraft were grounded at Darwin during 1948 while their owners made allegations of sabotage. During this period the Indonesian rebels were engaged in their war of independence from the Dutch in Netherlands East Indies. The migrant charter flights refuelled at various ports through the Indonesian archipelago, and the lines between carrying migrants and carrying supplies for the pro-Indonesian forces became sometimes blurred. Two of the Australian migrant charter aircraft were later used by the Indonesian republican forces when they were retired from the migrant run.
With travel agencies across Europe, some with dubious credentials, eager for commissions by signing up passengers prepared to pay the charter air fares being asked to Australia, there were suspicions of falsified paperwork to cover excessive charges. In addition, early postwar currency restrictions generated allegations of gold being smuggled out of Australia by itinerant charter aircraft. There were also suggestions of narcotics being brought into Australia.
1 Doug Fawcett, by then operating as Fawcett Aviation, Sydney:
Fawcett had established an aircraft maintenance business at Camden Airport near Sydney and would later move to Bankstown Airport. He provided maintenance for several of the migrant companies, particularly European Air Transport and New Holland Airways. He flew as engineer on some New Holland Airways DC-3 migrant runs to Europe.
“Jumping the immigration queue by air and gold smuggling was rife in those early days. I am not sure of the details of some of the passengers coming from overseas but I suspect quite a number of them came in with false papers in itinerant aircraft. They were whisked through customs and almost manhandled to waiting cars by men of dubious looking character. On outward flights I was told later that special fittings were being made of pure gold in the shape of engine cowling sections, sprayed silver, and fitted to aircraft. Gold smuggling became so strongly suspected that customs eventually thoroughly inspected every aircraft that left Australia, though I never did hear of them finding any.
One day a Lockheed* I had serviced was taxied to the overseas departure section at Mascot by its pilot Greg Board to obtain clearance for a flight to Athens. The senior customs officer demanded that all removable panels be taken off for an internal inspection of the aircraft. This would delay departure by some hours, so naturally I queried it. They refused to give me a reason and said the aircraft would not be leaving until they had inspected it. I had mechanics remove every panel while the customs officers climbed into the cabin, inspecting it thoroughly. They then advised me that the aircraft was clear to go. The mechanics replaced the panels and the aircraft departed two hours later. We overhauled quite a number of aircraft used by various companies which we called the migrant airlift from Italy and Greece to Australia. An aircraft was sometimes stationed in Athens and ran a shuttle service between there and Nicosia, enabling young men facing National Service to flee their country. We carried various nationalities and unusual passengers from Europe to Australia.” 10
* New Holland Airways’ Lockheed Lodestar VH-GRB, flown by NHAW founder Captain Greg Board
2. Newspaper reports of the Customs searches of the New Holland Airways Lodestar VH-GRB:
- Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 3 October 1947:
Sydney, Thursday: So thorough was a search by customs officials of a private plane at Kingsford Smith airport today that the 21 years old wife of the owner-pilot was asked to strip. The plane, a Lockheed Lodestar was held up for four hours while officals searched minutely every inch of the plane and its contents, before the plane was allowed to take off for Singapore.
The owner Gregory Board, his wife and four members of the crew, were questioned for hours about their past and their intentions in Singapore. Every article of clothing was examined and even private letters were read. Mrs. Board was taken away and searched by a policewoman. The plane left before noon without any explanation being given by customs officials”
- Canberra Times Wednesday 29 October 1947:
“Sydney, Tuesday: The Department of Civil Aviation has warned Gregory Board, a private charter operator, that he will not be permitted to fly any more passengers from Singapore to Australia. Board said today that no reason was given. He was just told at Darwin that he could not make any more trips to Singapore. On the previous trip, Board’s plane was intensively searched in Sydney and Board and his wife were also searched. Board will fly to Melbourne tomorrow to protest against the Department’s ruling.”
This heavy-handed Customs action resulted from continuing rumours of gold being smuggled out of Australia, that by all accounts were probably fact. As well as searching the clothing and baggage of the occupants, the interior and exterior of the Lockheed was closely examined. All cowlings and removable panels were laid out on the tarmac. Nothing was found and Customs were sorely embarrassed. Greg Board, a colourful entrepreneur promptly had the petulant DCA ruling overturned and continued as a key player in the migrant trade.
However this search sent a clear warning to the charter operators. It is reported that gold continued to be smuggled out of Australia, sometimes shaped as a fitting to an engine cowling and sprayed silver. Warren Penny who had just started Intercontinental Air Tours, remembers being approached to carry gold out of the country at that time concealed in his Hudson. He wrote "I got cold feet and refused”. 58
3. More Gold smuggling :
A shadowy associate of the Australian principals of New Holland Airways was a US citizen Gunning P. Plunkett who was living in Sydney just after the end of the war. A Plunkett family history gives the following candid account:
“Gunning Patrick Plunkett also used the name "Des". He started New Holland Air Line (sic) with a partner, after the war. The company was registered in Italy and flew from Rome to Sydney with various places of call. One plane was purchased from Disposals at the beginning of the venture and within a short period of time there were 5 planes in operation. The licence of this charter line permitted carriage of passengers on the journey to Australia but the return trip was to be used entirely for the conveying of cargo. His sudden acquisition of riches was viewed with suspicion by the authorities and a constant watch was placed on all outgoing movements. Patrick, however, had little intention of endangering his successful venture and the New Holland Air Line (sic) was never used as a conveyor of any gold bullion. In fact the gold travelled quite frequently strapped to the belt of one of the crew members of a rival airway.” 90
Further detail on “Des” Plunkett and New Holland Airways partner Greg Hanlon comes from the late Captain Pat Armstrong:
“Des Plunkett was an associate of Greg Hanlon who was a spiv who wore immaculate white suits and stayed at Raffles in Singapore. Des was associated with the planes of several companies that operated the migrant charters. Hanlon had developed contacts in the gold mining areas of outback Australia. The miners apparently filched a little of the gold they mined for their employers and paid for their drinks with the local publicans. The publicans could not get rid of the gold because it was a highly controlled. Hanlon would buy it from these publicans and befriended several Qantas pilots who agreed to fly the gold overseas for Hanlon, sometimes to Hong Kong but mainly to India. On one such flight the Hong Kong Customs intercepted and seized the gold and arrested the crew. The Australian newspapers headlined the arrest and the Qantas crew was subsequently sacked. With their couriers exposed, the trade ceased and Plunkett and Hanlon dropped from sight.” 91
4. Sabotage: Two companies engaged on the migrant runs claimed their aircraft had been sabotaged. No further details of these allegations are known.
- March 1948: Macair Charter Service Douglas C-39 VH-ARC suffered engine problems on its first overseas migrant flight and by was grounded at Darwin due engine problems. Sydney Morning Herald 17 March 1948 reported “Macair Charter Service claimed its Douglas DC-2 had been sabotaged when starting to operate its first migration flight; the aircraft had made a forced landing at Darwin.” 38
- August 1948: A letter to DCA from Guinea Air Traders dated 16 August 1948 concerning their Douglas C-39 VH-ARB:
“The aircraft has recently done a trip to Darwin where it was grounded due to defects which were apparently the result of sabotage.” 39
5. Clandestine Greek charters to Cyprus. While Australian aircraft were at Athens waiting for the next load of migrants, they sometimes participated in an unlawful airlift of young Greek men wishing to avoid mandatory military National Service. Doug Fawcett remembers:
"An aircraft was sometimes stationed in Athens and ran a shuttle service between there and Nicosia, enabling young men facing National Service to flee their country.” 10
6. Airworthiness of the aircraft: The majority of aircaft used during the itinerant migrant charter period prior to 1950 were not airliners flown by established airlines. Instead many were post-WWII military disposals aircraft, including bombers hastily modified to carry passengers. These aircraft were flown by charter operators with minimal financial backing far from home base without organised maintenance support at the many airports between Europe and Australia. Many a captain would have pushed on with unserviceabilities that should have grounded his aircraft.
Australian charter operators carried an engineer on each overseas flight, although he sometimes lost his seat on the return flight if another fare paying pasenger could be found. He then sat on the floor between the passengers. Records show that Australian operator New Holland Airways was carrying two engineers on its DC-3.
An example of breaches of International air safety regulations was an Curtiss C-46 Commando which arrived at Darwin during August 1948 carrying 50 Cypriot immigrants. The aircraft was checked over by a DCA inspector who found two 200 gallon auxiliary fuel tanks inside the passenger cabin. The plastic tanks were secured by a wooden framework, and passengers' cigarette butts could be seen under the frame. The obvious potential for fire and fumes meant such installations inside cabins were unlawful. The aircraft 's departure for Sydney was delayed and the fuel tanks ordered to be removed from the passenger ompartment. 188
This C-46 was almost certainly AN-ADD of Nicaraguan International Airlines which arrived Sydney 30 August 1948 with 53 migrants from Cyprus. Despite the impressive name, it seems to have been a single-aircraft gipsy operation flown by its American owner.
|AUSTRALIAN BUREAUCRATIC OBSTRUCTION |
| Australian Government aviation regulation was
administered by the Minister for Civil Aviation through the Deparment
of Civil Aviation.|
From the beginning of the migrant charter flights in 1947 when it was mostly Australian operators, DCA frowned upon the enterprise. There may have been an element of concern over tired military disposals aircraft flying paying passengers over such long distances far from regulated Australian maintenance and operating standards - but the major objection was purely political. That same year the Australian Labor Government under Prime Minister Ben Chifley had nationalised Qantas Empire Airways. The previous year the Government-owned Trans-Australia Airlines had been established to bring competition to Australian National Airways. The Minister for Civil Aviation, Arthur S. Drakeford would have been under pressure to ensure the new Government airlines were successful. This included monitoring competition or loss of passengers for Qantas Empire Airways, which he often stated was "the Government's chosen instrument for all overseas air travel".
However QEA was still operating Avro Lancastrians and Short Hythe flying boats on the Sydney-London sevice, pending delivery of ordered Lockheed Constellations. The Minister wanted immigrants able to to pay for air travel to be carried by Qantas, or, at that time of strong British Commonwealth loyalty, BOAC. But both airlines were first-class only and fully booked months in advance. Frustrated by these realities, the Minister ordered his Department to implement a process whereby QEA and BOAC would advise when they had seating available for migrants from Europe to Sydney and DCA would refuse permission for charter flights during that period.
This was stated in the Department of Civil Aviation 1947/48 Annual Report:
“The policy of this Department has been that operators of these non-scheduled flights are permitted to embark or disembark traffic in Australia only when the regular operator is unable to handle the traffic within a reasonable time. A further consideration is that the fares and freight rates charged shall not be less than comparable rates from the regular operator.”
It sounded quite reasonable. But given the complexities of pre-computerised manual reservations systems including bookings from agents all along the London-Australia route, it was patently obvious the airlines would have difficulty identifying low bookings periods. The first seems to have been in February 1948 when Warren Penny, founder of Intercontinental Air Tours and the first to fly migrants to Sydney was summonsed to a meeting with the Minister for Air in Canberra. He was curtly told the airlines now had sufficient seating available and no further approvals would be given for his aircraft to bring in migrants. Seating was unavailable agan within weeks, but Penny ceased operations and it sent him personally bankrupt.
The clumsy airline seating availability notification system had inherent delays at the the airline end and the DCA end. By the time the period had been defined and advised by the airline to DCA, then filtered through the Departmental administrative levels, the charter aircraft often had already departed Australia on the week-long trip to Rome to collect their next booking of migrants. The system forced Australian charter operators to plan flights, engage aircrew, arrange maintenance and flight planning clearances through all the enroute countries, never knowing when DCA would refuse exit or entry permits on the grounds that seating was available on major airlines. The infuriated companies often checked with travel agents only to find there were in fact no seats because the low bookings period had passed.
These restrictions did not appear to be applied to the growing number of foreign air carriers bringing migrants to Australia, probably because their larger aircraft carried 50 or more passengers, well beyond the spare seat capacity of Qantas and BOAC scheduled services.
DCA's zealous enforcement of restrictions on the Australian operators drove them out of the lucrative European migrant charter market, giving it to foreign companies over which the Department had much less control. DCA's arrogant and ruthless treatment of licenced Australian operators during this migrant charter period paid no regard to the realities of aviation operations. Their actions can be seen to have been designed to cause maximum financial impact, to drive these irritants out of business. The senior officers of the Department were no doubt following the Minister's agenda to protect his "chosen instrument" but it was a shameful period for DCA and remembered with bitterness by many in the industry.
Another aspect of the Minister for Civil Aviation's policies impacted the migrant charters. The aim was to have the Government domestic airline Trans-Australia Airlines carry migrants from the Australian arrival port Darwin on to their Australian destinations.
Once again it was unworkable in practice, starting with the fact that the majority of immigrants had paid a fare to Sydney but found themselves dumped at Darwin to wait for a TAA flight for which they had to pay a significant additional fare. Also ignored by the bureacrats was the reality that TAA had minimal services to Darwin, at that time only three DC-3 flights weekly, each to Adelaide via 5 stops. 191
DCA was expected to to administer this heartless policy. If an inbound migrant charter flight was due to arrive Darwin within a day of a scheduled TAA service which had spare seats departing Darwin, the migrant aircraft would be refused onwards clearance to Sydney. Needless to say, the connection often did not go to plan, leaving migrants stranded in Darwin for days. Post-war Darwin had primitive facilities and few hotels, a situation known to all except the men at DCA Head Office, Melbourne. Newspapers reported hapless migrant families camped on the edge of Fannie Bay, Darwin amidst swarms of mosquitos and biting midges.
DCA's punitive actions gained newspaper coverage, particularly in Sydney. The reports were written in emotional terms, seen as punishing World War II airmen who had flown patriotically for Australia only a few years earlier. By the end of 1948, Guinea Air Traders was the only Australian company to continue on the migrant run with a British registered DC-3 G-AKNB. Despite vague statements from DCA and the Minister for Civil Aviation to the contrary, Qantas and BOAC still did not have the seat capacity and foreign aircraft continued to ply the migrant routes until December 1949.
|1. Warren Penny of Intercontinental Air Tours, the first Australian operator to carry migrants, is grounded:|
In February 1948 Penny flew his D.H.86B G-ADYH with ICAT radio officer Peter Thurlow from Sydney to RAAF Tocumwal to inspect another Lockheed Lodestar available for disposal. Their Sydney office manager Ernie Allen phoned Penny at Tocumwal saying he should stop at Canberra on the way back because he had been summoned by the Minister for Civil Aviation, A. S. Drakeford.
Penny remembers the day: “I was in my pilot uniform at the time and I sailed into Parliament House like a Swiss Admiral in full flight, and left feeling like a Swiss cheese - shot full of holes.” Penny was bluntly told all his DCA permits to operate overseas were forthwith cancelled. His requests for time to clear his backlog of booking were refused, although his Hudson VH-ASV was permitted to return to Sydney because Captain Hurst had already departed Rome inbound with migrants on board. 1, 58
2. Sydney Morning Herald newspaper 27 December 1948:
“Australian Pilots Harassed
Foreign planes bearing the colours of more than half a dozen different nations are a familiar sight at Kingsford Smith Airport, the terminal of profitable air migrant charter services. These planes have captured, almost entirely, a rich traffic ‘stream’ of war-weary Europeans who are willing to pay almost any price to reach Australia.
The migrant charter air services were pioneered by Australian ex-servicemen operators. But now, although migrants from Rome, Athens and Cairo are being flown into Australia in the hundreds each week, it is a rarity to see them disembarking from an Australian plane. Only two Australian air firms have managed to keep going against an ever-growing programme of obstruction by the Federal Government . These firms are Guinea Air Traders and Trans Oceanic Airways, a flying boat charter service which operates from Rose Bay. Both these companies have other air routes, and carrying migrants is only incidental to their main operations.
Former RAAF officers brought the first migrants to Sydney in aircraft bought from the Disposals Commission. These pilots looked forward to a profitable post-war future, as long as the ‘stream’ of migrant traffic continued to flow towards Australia. The reservoir of migrants in Athens and Rome during the past year has increased, but the original Australian airline charter operators are reaping no harvest in air fares. Instead their planes are rotting because their owners have not the money to put them back in the air.
This time last year three well-known Australian charter operators were engaged in bringing migrants to Sydney from Rome and Athens. They were Intercontinental Air Tours, European Air Transport, and Macair Charter Services. Because of stringent Government regulations favouring the Government airlines to the detriment of private airlines, all three firms are today out of existence.
A fourth air charter firm, New Holland Airways, found a way to evade Australian Government red-tape by registering under the Italian flag.
Two of the most crippling regulations, which sounded the death-knell to the Australian ex-Servicemen’s airlines, were orders from DCA that all planes going overseas must carry first-class navigators in the crew, and that the planes could not take paying passengers out of Australia. The second order was made solely to prevent the private air companies from competing with the Government airlines Qantas and BOAC. The Australian planes were only allowed to carry a certain number of passengers and numerous minor pin-pricking regulations governed their movements when they did become airborne.
Foreign air charter services running to Australia today do not have to carry first-class navigators. Nor do they have to comply with Australian regulations about the loading of planes. Australian operated Skymasters (DC-4s) are not allowed to carry more than 44 passengers on an internal route and 35 passengers on an overseas route. But as many as 70 passengers have been seen to disembark from a foreign operated Skymaster.
Embittered Australian airmen say their post-war ventures paid the supreme penality for not seeking protection under a foreign flag, from the ‘rehabilitation assistance’ afforded them by their own Commonwealth Government.”
3. Warren Penny, founder of Intercontinental Air Tours:
“Things were starting to get extremely difficult. DCA had made us put more crew on each aircraft. They demanded a Captain, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator, engineer and cabin attendant - 6 crew on a 15 passenger aircraft. They had stopped us taking any passengers out of Australia. I got away with a few flights early in the piece but they said no fare paying passengers could be carried at all. So I flew them to Koepang for nothing and then charged them from there on. Then DCA said ‘no passengers at all’, so I carried the passengers as extra crew members and charged them once outside Australia, accordingly. Then they said ‘no one, except normal authorised crew’. DCA had also made us lodge £120 to send clearance cables through the various countries. This was ridiculous - I used to send the cables myself for about £20.” 58
4. Examples of the DCA restrictions, both relating to Intercontinental Air Tours’ Hudson VH-ASV: 19
- Letter to Intercontinental Air Tours from DCA Sydney Airport dated 21 January 1948:
“With respect to the departure of aircraft VH-ASV from this airport for Rome on 22nd January 1948, it is advised that it would be necessary for all non paying passengers to sign affidavits to the effect that they are not paying fares.
It will furthermore be necessary for the registered owner of the aircraft to likewise complete an affidavit to the effect that he shall not be receiving payment in any form for carriage of these passengers. The necessary forms for completion are forwarded herewith, and it is required that these forms be executed before a Police Stipendiary or Special Magistrate, a Justice of the Peace, a Commissioner for taking Affidavits or Declarations or Notary Public. The forms should be handed to the Customs Officer at this airport when the aircraft is being cleared for departure and a clearance will not be affected until such time as affidavits in respect of each passenger and the owner of the aircraft are in the hands of the Customs Officer.”
- Cable from DCA Head Office Melbourne to DCA Sydney Airport (date unreadable):
“To AVIAT Mascot. Reference embarkation passengers and spare engine Intercontinental aircraft VHASV. Approval for flight subject to signing of affidavits by Mr Warren Penny and passengers to the effect that no consideration is being received or paid for the journey or portion of the journey. Form of Affidavit required will be transmitted early as possible. No objection transport aircraft engine but ensure that Department Trade and Customs has issued export licence in respect same.”
5. Charles Eather, Australian pilot with Cathay Pacific Airways: 33
“Charterers a plenty jumped in to meet the demand from southern Europe to Australia. Trans Oceanic Airways was charging approximately $300 a head for both adults and children from Greece, and other carriers were in line. Qantas carried only a trickle of these passengers, surely an indication that seating capacity was filled and the Australian protection of air nationalisation misguided.
On behalf of the Government owned airline the Australian DCA was making things difficult for all these charter lines and, in consequence, for the migrants. When they reached Darwin, for example, the charterers would be told to off-load their passengers and advise them that TAA would take them onward next day. When the limited hotel accommodation was filled they would have to sleep on the beach or in the waiting rooms. The Babbitts of DCA were not in any way influenced by reports of hardship, and their attitude induced some charter operators to dump their human loads in Asian cities, leaving someone else with more moral fibre to tackle the Australian civil service bureaucracy. Such operators had put every plane available on the line whether or not it was servicable, and would rush back to Europe to load yet another consignment of the hopefuls. Singapore, Rangoon and Calcutta at different times became their main dumping grounds.”
Other forms of bureaucratic interference harassed the migrant runs. In March 1948 a Lockheed Hudson owned by Mr Warren Penny, of Intercontinental Air Tours, a Sydney firm, was delayed in Rangoon for nearly a fortnight pending payment for fuel and hotel accommodation. He needed an export permit for his Australian funds to reach him and it wasn’t forthcoming. When it was finally authorised it was forwarded to a bank not nominated in Penny’s application, a considered ploy without doubt. Meanwhile 14 Greek migrants he was carrying were delayed with the aircraft. For the next couple of years frequent news reports presented the plight of migrants suffering under Government protectionist policy. The Daily Telegraph in June ran a story on 40 odd people who arrived at Darwin at 6pm and did not get through Customs and Immigration procedures until 2am and still were not allowed to leave the airport until 5am."
6. Brisbane Courier Mail newspaper 21 February 1948:
This story was the first to publicly highlight a DCA ban on some charter operators continuing further than Darwin:
"Darwin Friday: The “immigrant express”, a special TAA Dakota, left here tonight for Adelaide carrying 21 Greek and Italian immigrants from Rome. They were stranded here by the DCA ban on a chartered Dakota, which flew them from Rome to Darwin, but was not allowed to fly on to its destination Sydney. From Adelaide the immigrants will go to Sydney by other TAA planes. The TAA fares £39 a head are said to have been paid by a southern European tourist agency.
A Cathay Pacific plane, with another 21 passengers, arrived here tonight from Singapore. The passengers include many British subjects from Palestine. A second TAA plane will arrive here tomorrow to carry these 21 immigrants to Adelaide."
7. Letter from John Jamieson, founder of Guinea Air Traders Ltd to Minister fot External Territories, 3 March 1950:
Jamieson was unsuccessfully seeking Government support for GAT to resume New Guinea operations.
After making 11 consecutive flights from Sydney to Rome to collect immigrants, all completed without a hitch, we were suddenly informed after our aircraft had left Australia to pick up a load of passengers in Cyprus that a landing permit would not be issued. You may recall we received considerable notoriety by continuing this flight and its load of migrants after we received legal advice we were within our rights. We pointed out to DCA that it was impossible to embark on flights halfway across the world without considerable preparation invlving not only our company but the 28 passengers to whom we were committed. The reason advanced to me was that Qantas could cater for the passengers. In fact this was not true, at this time they were booked out. In any case, they do not cater for the class of passenger we were carrying and Qantas does not call at Cyprus."
|IT ALL COMES TO A HEAD – THE END OF THE ITINERANT MIGRANT CHARTERS |
The DCA restrictions and changing requirements almost on a flight-by-flight basis had taken their toll on the Australian operators.
In August 1949 the final act by an Australian company was played out when Guinea Air Traders “ran the blockade” amidst widespread press coverage which attracted significant public sympathy:THE OPERATORS – AUSTRALIAN
1. Balus - The Aeroplane in Papua New Guinea: 45
“By mid 1949 Guinea Air Traders was the only surviving Australian operator maintaining migration charter flights. However the situation was now intricate because in May 1949 DCA had been formally advised that Qantas and BOAC had sufficient capacity to cope with passenger traffic offering from Europe, so DCA had refused any further permits for charter operators. Three months later in August 1949 Qantas found it could not in fact handle the traffic and DCA approved a limited number of charter flights. An August GAT DC-3 trip to Rome was approved and GAT applied for a permit for a second August flight. But DCA refused the second flight on the grounds that Qantas had once again decided it could take the migrants concerned.
Arrangements had already been made for the second flight, and GAT sought legal opinion on the validity of the Air Navigation Regulations, upon which DCA were relying. Acting on this advice, the flight was made. G-AKNB was piloted by Captain Ken Lockyer and First Officer G. Hawke, and on board was company owner Sam Jamieson: ‘We had gotten (sic) under the skin of Qantas. The politicians made it a political issue. On that last flight DCA withdrew our rights to overfly Australia from Darwin with paying passengers. But our legal man instructed us to leave anyway. We were fuelled and could fly empty but couldn’t take anyone who had paid their passage! All the Italians - they were from the mountains - were running around, and we had no alternative but to get these people to Sydney. So I said ‘Anybody wanting to go to Sydney, hop in!’ We took off, and they were firing red verey pistols at us from the Darwin control tower. We landed at Cloncurry to refuel. DCA gave instructions that the aircraft couldn’t be refuelled, but Shell refuelled us, and we flew on to Sydney. They took us to court - shows the idiocy of these characters who were supposed to encourage private enterprise.”
2. Flypast, A record of Aviation in Australia: 1
“4 August 1949: After landing in Darwin, a Guinea Air Traders DC-3 was detained on the grounds that it did not have an Australian landing permit; migrants were being carried; on 11 August the aircraft would be allowed to continue to Sydney, but without its passengers;
the aircraft had previously made an unauthorised flight in June stated Minister for Civil Aviation Mr. Drakeford; 12 August 1949 the aircraft took off from Darwin without approval and landed at Cloncurry Queensland where the pilot Captain K. C. D. Lockyer received two messages, one authorising him to continue to Sydney and another ordering that he not be cleared from Cloncurry; the flight continued to Sydney where, after a delay of 30 minutes while reporters and photographers were cleared from the tarmac, the passengers were processed normally by immigration officials; on 16 August Mr. Drakeford issued a statement regarding the incident and on 25 August three summons issued by the Commonwealth against Capt Lockyer were mentioned in court, but they had not been served; the aircraft carried 28 passengers when it arrived at Darwin from Koepang on 4 August; 24 October 1949 Guinea Air Traders were fined £50 and its pilot Captain Lockyer £10, for breaching Air Navigation Regulations; GAT for discharging passengers at Sydney without approval of the Director General of Civil Aviation and Captain Lockyer for flying without a flight plan approved by air traffic control; both pleaded guilty.”
This was the final act of any Australian air charter companies participating in migrant charters. The overseas charter comnpanies continued until Christmas that year.
3. Charles Eather, Cathay Pacific Airways pilot in his book Syd’s Pirates: 33
“The childish war of attrition continued until August 1949 when Captain Ken Lockyer did a moonlight flit from Darwin in a Guinea Air Traders DC-3. He took off without an approved flight plan, he ignored a red light which meant ‘Stop - Clear Strip Immediately’, and he negotiated a series of red flares which came dangerously close. Ken was quite in the wrong, as he admitted to me off the record some time later, but in the interests of Andreas Sehx, Stylianos Kleanvoos, John Goerchios, Andrew Spanos and his wife and five more migrant passengers who were practically destitute, decided to make the effort to end their inhuman situation. The newspapers mixed in, perhaps giving more coverage than usual because uniformed watchmen had struggled with investigating journalists at the airport, and the fact that the whole matter had thus been brought before the public did seem to quieten the over-zealous officials. Migrants seemed to get a more humane and less obstructive reception after that, so Ken’s courageous but foolhardy action had a worthwhile effect. The usually unbending DCA did not suspend Ken’s licence, a punishment they had inflicted a few days earlier on Lionel van Praag for a similar transgression.”
4. Press Release by the Minister for Aviation, Mr. A.S. Drakeford, issued on 16 August 1949: 89
Such was DCA’s concern by the negative press coverage of their handling of migrant charters from Europe that the Minister issued this press statement. The final paragraph clearly spelled the end of the itinerant air charter era. For the next decade the vast majority of European migrants arrived in Australia by Government sponsored shipping:
“Australia’s policy on non-scheduled flights has been stated many times, and it has been consistently applied. It is a policy followed by other countries as well as Australia and is specifically authorised by the International Civil Aviation Convention to which some 54 nations are now party. It can be stated in one sentence “When the regular airline can handle the traffic, flights by non-scheduled operators are restricted.”
Guinea Air Traders, far from being discriminated against, has been well-treated by DCA. In June the company asked for permission to bring a load of migrants from Europe, but approval was withheld because the regular operators, BOAC and Qantas Empire Airways at that time were flying to Australia with sufficient seats to provide the necessary accommodation.
However, regardless of this ruling, the company’s aircraft arrived at Darwin, and, to avoid undue inconvenience to the passengers, was permitted on that occasion to continue its flight.
In repayment for this consideration the company didn’t even bother to seek permission for its next flight, which arrived in Darwin early this month.
For the past three months non-scheduled flights to Australia have not been permitted, although many operators have desired to make them. Within the last few days, Qantas Empire Airways has informed DCA that scheduled operators cannot handle all the traffic now offering, and the Department will now be able again to approve applications for non-scheduled flights to Australia.
It is ridiculous to suggest any conflict between civil aviation and migrant policies. The two departments have discussed the position, and immigration authorities state that the availability of shipping is improving so fast that there is no need to encourage migrants to come to Australia by air.”
5. InterAvia Notes edition 6 October 1949 115
“The first migrant-carrying aircraft to arrive from Europe since the Government lifted the ban on unscheduled charter flights reached Darwin on September 14th 1949. The aircraft, a Curtiss Commando of the US company Immigration Air Transport Inc, brought 38 migrants from Cyprus.”
How many more charter flights were conducted in late 1949 is not known because customs records have not been found. The last recorded charter flight reaching Sydney was All Trans Air Curtiss Commando N1800M on 16 November 1949 but it was seen again at Darwin the following month.
Finally, on 26 December 1949 the incoming Minister for Civil Aviation Mr. T.W. White announced that no more permits would be issued to any itinerant aircraft carrying migrants. The announcement coincided with the arrival in Darwin of a DC-3 of the Indian airline Bharat Airways carrying Cypriot migrants, which arrived on Boxing Day 1949, giving Customs less than a day’s notice. DCA refused to allow the onward flight to their destination Sydney and the migrants were stranded in Darwin for some days while onward transport was found for them.
By that time, post-war demands on worldwide shipping had been met and normal civilian passenger routes reestablished. The Australian Government now implemented a scheduled program of European migration by ship.
The “Migrant Caper” was over.
This section describes the air charter companies which joined the migrant trade 1947-1949.
Further details on the Australian pilots involved can be found in the section below THE PLAYERS
* H. W. G. (WARREN) PENNY / INTERCONTINENTAL AIR TOURS, SYDNEY
Henry Warren Grindrod Penny, trading as:
Intercontinental Air Tours, Suite 10, “Gleneagles”, Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point NSW
Intercontinental Air Tours, c/- Gough’s Foreign Travel, 1 North Audley Street, London
Intercontinental Air Tours, c/- Phospiropolens & Co, 12 Syngrou Avenue, Athens
Intercontinental Airlines, Suite 10, “Gleneagles”, Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point NSW
Intercontinental Airways (England) Ltd, c/- Biddle & Co, 1 Gresham Street, London
Intercontinental Airways (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney
Intercontinental Airlines (Rome) Pty Ltd, Rome
Intercontinental Air Maintenance Pty Ltd, Camden NSW later Bankstown NSW
ICAT Managing Director: Warren Penny
Office Manager/Tour Manager: Ernest S. Allen
Operations Manager (by early 1948): Captain William T. Mellor
Intercontinental Air Tours (ICAT) was founded in Sydney during April 1947 by Warren Penny, with two founding partners Gregory R. Board and Stanley V. Godden. After RAAF service in Dakota transport squadrons, Warren Penny had found himself stranded in London in December 1946 afer a shipping business deal failed. To get home he purchased a Percival Proctor G-AIEF to fly back to Sydney to sell to cover his costs. He arrived at Mascot 3 February 1947 and the Proctor was quickly sold, becoming VH-SMS. Penny then established a charter operation, which he named Intercontinental Air Tours, its first aircraft being ex RAAF Lockheed Hudson VH-ASV.
Experienced pre-war pilot Warren Penny during his RAAF wartime years,
pictured with a RAAF Ryan STM. Photo: Greg Banfield collection
The original three partners of Intercontinental Air Tours seen at RAAF Tocumwal on 27 February 1947 while inspecting Lodestar
A67-5: left Warren Penny, centre Stan Godden, and on the engine stand is Greg Board, accompanied by two helpful RAAF ground
crew. This Lodestar became New Holland Airways' VH-GRB. Photo: Warren Penny via Greg Banfield
Warren Penny describes the early days of ICAT:
“Whilst on a trip back from England in January 1947 in a Proctor aircraft, I conceived the idea of running world tourist trips by air. Subsequently with the proceeds of the sale of the Proctor, my own money and by mortgaging my parent’s home in Double Bay, I bought a Lockheed Hudson and had it converted for passenger use, and registered the firm of Intercontinental Air Tours.
In early July 1947, I left for England with 4 tourists booked out and 4 back. I was approached by American Travel Headquarters in Sydney before I left, to see if I could bring some Greek migrants on the return trip and as I had some 5 empty seats I filled them with migrants.
Before I left for England, because of the exorbitant prices for converting aircraft charged by outside firms, I also established Intercontinental Air Maintenance Pty Ltd. I had two partners in this. Having leased a Bellman hangar at Bankstown from DCA who had, in turn, leased it from the RAAF on a monthly tenancy, we spent some £2000 on machinery and equipment (some from Disposals and some new) and applied for and received Civil Aviation approval as a metal workshop. Our idea at the time was to service, maintain and convert our own aircraft.
On arrival back in Sydney I found that our agents had hopelessly overbooked us and committed us months in advance to carry migrants. As many of these people had already left their homes, I set out to try and meet our commitments. I bought from Disposals another Lodestar and two more Hudsons and bumped the staff at the Maintenance Company to 57 employees, all ex-servicemen.”
Originally, it was to take tourists by air around the world in various directions. That is how it started but after the first trip, it became purely a migrant business, bringing migrants into the country. The original intention of the firm was to take tourist trips only and the migrant charters were to enable me to get loading both ways. I bought a Lockheed Hudson from my two partners Board and Godden. 11
Flight Magazine (UK) carried the following report in June 1947:
“Intercontinental Air Tours is a company formed by three Sydney men operating charter air services from Australia to Britain. The company is endeavouring to make air travel between Australia and England a luxury affair, with no priorities, no dawn starts and no bad-weather flying. Passengers will be able to stay overnight at a hotel or club and see the show spots on the route” 102
Intercontinental Air Maintenance Pty Ltd was founded in June 1947 with original shareholders Warren Penny, Stan Godden and Greg Board. It began in a hangar at Camden carrying out civil conversions of ICAT and New Holland Airways aircraft, later moving to a hangar at Bankstown, where general aircraft maintenance was undertaken.
Doug Fawcett, Chief Engineer of Butler Air Transport, Mascot:
“In 1947 and despite all the negative advice, I decided to take the plunge and go into business for myself. I was not starting cold, I already had the business up and running as a sideline while I was at Butlers. Deciding to give it all my attention and expand, I formed a company - Fawcett Aviation Pty Ltd - and leased a hangar from the DCA at Camden Airport.
The main operation was concentrated on servicing aircraft that were transporting immigrants from Europe, as well as preparing RAAF war disposals aircraft, which were to be placed on the Australian register, usually for the migrant run. This sometimes entailed the overhaul of an engine, or complete strip-down of an airframe. There were even times when I was asked to supply a pilot.
I purchased my first equipment from Warren Penny, who flew passengers on joyflights at Mascot when I was selling confectionery there as a schoolboy. During World War Two he flew RAAF transport aircraft. To this day I cannot understand why he did not become head of one of our regional airlines; he certainly had charisma and could not be faulted as a pilot. In fact he did start a small overseas airline, known as Intercontinental Airways to carry immigrants from Europe to Australia, but when the larger official overseas airlines began operating he was forced out of business. He had an excellent workshop, well fitted out, and his aircraft were always maintained to a reasonably high standard. I was fortunate enough to buy his complete workshop for a good price. In fact I still use 50% of the equipment I purchased from him.
In the first year of our workshops we concentrated on overhauling a variety of large passenger aircraft. I was offered a large hangar at Bankstown Airport and moved my operation there in October 1949. We are still based in the same hangar, No.276. In 1950 I added a flying school, the Illawarra Flying School Pty Ltd, and in 1964 started Chieftain Aviation Pty Ltd on the southern side of the airport.” 10
ICAT’s first overseas trip departed Mascot on 10 July 1947 bound for London in their freshly converted Hudson VH-ASV under the command of Captain Warren Penny. Nine passengers were carried, including Penny’s wife Mone, his brother Raymond Penny and his wife, and ICAT Tour Manager Ernie Allen. The Hudson did not have dual controls so no copilot was carried. The second flight was to London in August 1947, Warren Penny leaving Tour Manager Allen in Athens to coordinate agents and passengers, while Penny continued to London in the Hudson. He continues:
“The first trip was arranged as an air tour on which we arranged to carry tourists on sight-seeing trips round the world. That was approved by the Department of Civil Aviation for us to take passengers out of the country provided we bought the same passengers back. After we had started the trip we found the greatest percentage of our income would be derived from migrants and we started on that first trip bringing in migrants. We were supposed to pick up 8 passengers in Athens and only 4 had landing permits. When we arrived in Australia after the first trip there were hundreds of passengers waiting to be picked up and it was then I started to expand the business rapidly to try to get a greater number of passengers. You must remember I was first to start this migrant run.”
“I did Intercontinental's first return flight Sydney-London-Sydney in VH-ASV. On the second flight I took it to London and then to Athens and converted Captain Jack Hurst who took it from Athens to Australia. I went back to London on B.E.A. to pick up Lodestar G-AGBU. Hurst later did two return trips to Athens and back, the short undercarriage strut let go on the last trip southbound at Darwin.
My brother * also bought 3 Hudsons, one of them A16-147 later after conversion registered VH-BIH sold to Israeli Air Force. All conversions were done by Intercontinental Air Maintenance at Bankstown.” 11, 12 * C. Raymond Penny
Penny described the ICAT aircraft purchases:
“The first aircraft was VH-ASV, the Lockheed Hudson. Originally, when the first aircraft was being fixed up as a passenger aircraft, we were approached by a firm called Air Carriers* to purchase three Lockheed Hudsons for them and we committed ourselves to buy three, Godden and myself, from the Disposals Commission. The three Hudsons were duly bought and we had 14 days to shift them from Richmond Aerodrome and pay for them. Air Carriers said they had no money and could not pay for them and they were subsequently sold to my brother Ray who bought the three. After that, Board & Godden had, with the proceeds of the sale from the Lockheed Hudsons, bought a Lockheed Lodestar. They had an argument about this aircraft and Board bought Godden out of it and took the aircraft away.
Godden then, together with myself, purchased another Lockheed Lodestar from Disposals and two Hudsons. I paid for the two Hudsons myself and put £500 up for the purchase of the Lodestar from Godden and I entered into a partnership agreement with Godden on the Lodestar. The Lodestar afterwards became VH-BFZ. That left me with a half interest in VH-BFZ, the owner of VH-ASV and two other Hudsons whose numbers I think were A16-122 and A16-112.
I then went abroad and the two Hudsons were bought over from Richmond to Bankstown and subsequently sold, one to Megner and the other to a man named Clarke. The one that was bought by Megner was subsequently re-possessed by me and latterly given to the Shell Company as guarantee against their bill. The other one bought by Clarke was subsequently taken over by Thomas, repaired in our workshops and then vanished overseas.
After that, I bought two more aircraft, a D.H.86 in England G-ADYH and I myself bought another Lockheed Lodestar G-AGBU also in England, and that was the sum total of my fleet.” 11
* Air Carriers was a short-lived charter company which based Handley Page Halifax G-AGXA/VH-BDT at Sydney.
ICAT Director Mr. F. Megna became owner of one of the original disposals Hudsons A16-112 for a short time. Warren Penny’s brother Raymond Penny’s three Hudsons were parked at Intercontinental Air Maintenance by November 1947. However by then the original plans for these aircraft had fallen through, as indicated in a letter from Mr. H. Parkinson, General Manager of Intercontinental Air Maintenance to
C. R. Penny dated 14 November 1947:
“We wish to bring under your notice, the amount of approximately £600 outstanding to this company, for work done of your aircraft A16-122, A16-147, A16-149. We would point out this amount has been outstanding for some considerable time, and while we appreciate the fact that difficulties have arisen with you personally over these aircraft, this company, as a Maintenance Company is totally disinterested, except from the repair and maintenance point of view, and continually being put to further expense: the employment of a night watchman to guard the machines in question.” 56
A Sydney Morning Herald report on 5 September 1947 stated that American Travel Headquarters, a large Sydney travel agency announced that it has made arrangements with Trans Oceanic Airways to bring 26 Greek migrants to Sydney. They have also arranged with Mr. Warren Penny to bring nearly 100 Greek migrants to Sydney by November.
Hudson VH-ASV departed Mascot on 9 September 1947 for London. A DCA Memo from the NSW District Superintendent to Head Office on the same day records these details: 95
“I forward particulars received from Mr. Warren H. Penny in regard to the overseas trip by aircraft VH-ASV which left for England today.
Passengers: Mrs M. Schring and child aged 6, Mr. A. J. Hurst, all to London and non-paying.
Freight: Half dozen parcels from Greek Consulate - no charge and have export licence.
Freight inward, if any, at BOAC Flying Boat rates
Return Trip: Ten paying passengers. Greeks from Athens to Sydney. Charter Flight fares average £300 (A) per head.
Route: Charleville, Cloncurry, Darwin, Koepang, Sourabaya, Batavia, Singapore, Butterworth, Rangoon, Calcutta, Gwalia, Karachi, Jiwani, Bahrein, Cyprus, Athens, Rome, Nice, Croydon Airport London
Crew: W. Penny. M. Croft (Co-pilot), G. Taylor (W/O), C. Clayton (Engineer), E. S. Allan (Steward)”
VH-ASV was photographed at London’s Croydon Airport on 21 September 1947 and a few days later visited nearby Redhill Aerodrome for maintenance by Field Aircraft Services. It returned to Sydney on 16 November from London carrying 8 British visitors and 4 Italian and Greek migrants. Warren Penny described his time in London in late 1947 building up the migrant business:
“We took a flat in North Audley Street, just near Berkeley Square. I went round to Australia House and I talked to the boys at Immigration. They were getting a huge number of enquiries for Australia - I suggested to them that if they had any enquiries from persons willing to pay their own fares, to send them round to my office, which I had established in the basement of a travel agency in South Audley Street. For each one I signed up, the boys got £5. A run started and I began to put a lot of fare money aside. As a result, in November for £3000 I bought a D.H.86*. It had belonged to Skytravel at Speke and they had gone into liquidation, after having over £5,000 spent on it on overhaul. I advertised and got an excellent skipper, Captain Mellor, and a wireless operator named Thurlow. I sent the D.H.86 off to Australia with a capacity load of 12 English migrants. They ran into trouble in Allahabad with an engine out, but Mellor somehow got another motor and after about four days, they were on their way and had a relatively unadventurous trip to Australia.” 58
*Compilers note: the unusual choice of the biplane D.H.86 airliner is explained by Penny’s urgent need to acquire additional aircraft due to overbooking of migrants by ICAT’s agents. While Penny was in London, Flight magazine for 16 October 1947 carried an advertisement for sale by order of the liquidators of Skytravel Ltd at Squires Gate aerodrome, Blackpool: 3 Austers, 2 Proctors, 2 Consuls, Miles Aerovan, Bristol Wayfarer and 3 D.H.86s. Offers were required by 31 October 1947. It must have proven too good an opportunity to bypass for Penny, who was experienced in flying the D.H.86 type from a pre-war period flying for Union Airways in NZ. He purchased D.H.86B G-ADYH “Denebola” which retained “Skytravel” titles throughout its time with ICAT. An auction of the remaining Skytravel Ltd aircraft was held at Squires Gate 9 December 1947, which did not include any of the D.H.86s. 51
ICAT’s newly purchased D.H.86 G-ADYH arrived at Mascot on 28 November 1947 with 10 British, Greek and Italian migrants. It was followed by the Lodestar G-AGBU which arrived Christmas Day 1947 flown by Penny. He describes its acquisition:
“In England from my advertising for air crew, I had met a Captain Michelson, who wanted to go to Australia. He had a lot of experience but only on light aircraft. He agreed to invest £6,000 sterling in the outfit, due for repayment later on arrival in Australia. I consequently purchased through brokers W.S. Shackleton Ltd, an ex BOAC Lockheed Lodestar G-AGBU, which had been on the Cairo-Khartoum run and was in fact parked at Khartoum. It was fully equipped as an airliner and the total cost was £8,500 sterling. It was ferried back by a BOAC crew but whilst taxying in at London Airport in a fog, struck a building and wrote off the port propeller and engine.
Apart from the 12 passengers on the D.H.86, I had 6 more passengers in London for Australia and had to put them in a hotel in Croydon to get them together for the departure. BOAC sent to Cairo for another engine, but the delay was going to be some weeks. After a couple of weeks the passengers started getting very restless and expenses were mounting, although up to this point BOAC were footing the bill. I decided to charter an aircraft and get them on their way.
I appointed as hostess a girl who wanted to go to Australia also, and who had been acting as my secretary in the office. She seemed a sensible type and was an excellent secretary, so I put her in charge of the flight. The passengers, highly excited at the thought of spending a couple of days in Italy, departed in a converted Oxford shortly afterwards. Two of the passengers were not in a hurry, so they waited for me. On 12 December 1947 the Lodestar was finally ready and we proceeded after lunch to London Airport. It was very foggy but they gave me a clearance. I had never flown a Lodestar before, although it was very similar to the Hudson, except it had the dual controls and automatic pilot. It was getting fairly late so I decided to night stop at Lyons. Next day I went straight to Rome and picked up the other passengers. I had 15 seats in the Lodestar and four crew. My wife Mone was acting as hostess. This meant that on the pick-up I had the full load of 15.
Heading for Athens I ran into very heavy weather, so I decided to go over the top. I levelled at 12,000 feet but after 30 minutes I couldn’t find a hole. The passengers were starting to suffer from anoxia and I was getting pretty fuzzy myself, mainly because of tiredness generally. Luckily just as I was about to go into cloud, a slight break occurred and sticking up in the middle of it was a large mountain peak. A few minutes later the cloud started to fall away. I had worked my way northwards to avoid high cloud and when I broke through I was south of Salonica, which is well north of Athens. I went back to Salonica and landed to give the passengers a break and to get some more fuel, and then went on to Athens.
I stayed a couple of days at Athens to get some more passengers although their paperwork was not quite in order. The English passengers had complained about the behaviour of the hostess - too much drink and too many men. I found their complaints justified when the Police called me to her hotel room, which was a shambles, with a couple of drunken sailors spread-eagled over the bed. Needless to say, I fired her on the spot. How she got back, if at all, was her worry. She was an efficient secretar who went round the twist when her routine, of years perhaps, was suddenly and dramatically broken by these new experiences.
With this full load, I left Athens, having to call at Cyprus to pick up another Greek passenger, which meant a slight overload as far as seating was concerned. The Lodestar was a delight to fly - it was much more pleasant than the Hudson, and with the automatic pilot, it was piece of cake on the long runs. At Karachi, I ran into trouble again. BOAC had neglected to attach the Cholera certificate to the log books and the Health officials were going to hurl us all into the Quarantine Station. Luckily the log books had been stamped, although the certificate was not in the book. I eventually got the Quarantine Controller who was 200 miles away, on the telephone and he agreed to let us go. We were delayed three hours in all. At Calcutta the passengers approached me to see if I could be in Australia for Christmas. I told them I would try.
On my first flight to Australia through Calcutta, I had a hell of a row with the airport control tower at Dum Dum, which was the official name for the Calcutta strip, and after a lot of savage words, I was forced, in my own interests, to apologise to the whole tower. So I decided to win them, and on the next trip I had two dozen bottles of Australian beer for them. On this particular trip, when I went to the tower, they told me I couldn’t go on, as Rangoon Airport was being repaired and no flights were allowed in or out for three days. This meant of course that Sydney by Christmas was impossible. I asked the boys what they could do to help and as a result, about two hours later they told me the authorities had agreed to open the field at Rangoon for my arrival and also for the departure next morning. I was grateful to the tower for their help - it just shows what a few bottles of beer can do.
I got into Rangoon at 10pm and left at 4.30am next day. We had an uneventful run through to Mascot, where we duly arrived on Christmas Day. The only episode of note was coming down the Burma Peninsula. We were on the automatic pilot and I asked Michelson to watch it while I had a doze. I was dropping with tiredness. I was also very hot. After about half an hour, Mone came up to the cockpit with some cool drinks and she woke me. I woke with a start and saw the coastline on the starboard side - it should have been on the port. Michelson was sound asleep. What had happened was the automatic pilot had gradually precessed and turned the aircraft on to almost the opposite direction. I was furious and decided to fire Michelson on arrival. We took a heavy battering going through the Inter-Tropical Front. One passenger got a bleeding nose out of it and the cabin was a shambles.” 58
Australia House in London cabled DCA Head Office Melbourne on 22 November 1947 advising that Penny had purchased G-AGBU and was preparing it for a flight to Australia. He had requested Australian registration. DCA cabled back allocating VH-BKH.
Before the Lodestar departed London on its first trip to Australia, Penny had “Intercontinental” painted in large letters above the cabin windows and the name Aurora Borealis on the nose, but retained the BOAC Union Jack flag on the tail fins. “The letters VH-BKH were only in existence for two or three days at the most. We were in a hurry to get out of London ..... the English lettering G-AGBU was painted out and the Australian lettering painted on; but then we were informed we could not take the aircraft to Australia under the Australian lettering; so I had to put the aircraft back to its original British registration.” 11
Intercontinental Air Tours Lockheed Lodestar G-AGBU at Darwin 1948. Penny left the Union Jack on the
tail fins hoping it might ease transit through foreign airports. Greg Banfield collection
When Captain Percy Michelson was hired by Penny in England, he had made a significant financial investment in ICAT. After G-AGBU reached Sydney on Christmas Day 1947 on that first trip to Australia, Penny sacked Michelson because of his poor airmanship enroute. Michelson took legal action against Penny for the return of his investment money, which resulted in transfer of ownership of G-AGBU to Michelson by March 1948 in settlement. Penny recalls: “That was a mutual arrangement between Michelson and myself. After discussing the position of affairs in Australia we decided that it might be advisable to keep the aircraft under British registration. The Department of Civil Aviation was cramping our operations and I decided to operate some of the aircraft from England and I formed a company in England called Intercontinental Airways Limited with respect to which the solicitors were in process of drawing up documents. I suggested to Michelson that if there should be any question as to our operations in Australia it would be a good thing to have this company in England and for him to be recognised as the legal owner of the aircraft so that it could not be repossessed, clamped on by the Australian Government or suffer any other mishap. Michelson was in agreement with it and documents were drawn up with his consent by my solicitors in London.” 11
Sydney Morning Herald 20 January 1948 reported G-AGBU's arrival from its next trip:
“An Intercontinental Air Tours Lodestar reached Sydney yesterday with 14 British and Greek passengers from London and Athens. Most of the passengers were migrants. The Greek migrants included a family of five, who said they left their village on the Greek-Bulgarian-Yugoslav border because it had been burnt and ransacked by guerillas. The family comprised Mrs.A. P. Tsormbaris, her three children and her 85 year old mother-in-law, who will live in Melbourne”
On 2 February 1948 a British subsidiary company under the name Intercontinental Airways (England) Ltd was registered with Directors
H. W. G. Penny and P. Michelson. An application was lodged with the British Air Transport Licencing Board for passenger services between the United Kingdom and Australia, via Italy, quoting the aircraft to be used as the DH.86 biplane. Although this application no doubt caused raised eyebrows within the British Civil Aviation Authority, events unfolding in Australia ensured that there were no further entries in the application file. 119
A letter dated 18 February 1948 to DCA from ICAT Operations Manager W.T.Mellor set out the ICAT structure at that time:
“Types of aircraft:
Lodestars VH-BFZ, G-AGBU
2 Hudsons undergoing CofA and conversion
2 Lodestars will start CofA in about 2 weeks
Douglas C-47 PI-C233 on loan
Douglas DC-2 VH-ADZ on loan
Douglas C-39 VH-ARC on loan
Projected additions 1948: 2 Douglas C-47 and 1 or 2 Canadair 4s
Penny (9500 hours)
Mellor (6500 hours)
Michelson (7000 hours)
Hurst (3500 hours)
Rochforte (4000 hours) in process of engagement
Junior Captain Barnard (3000 hours) D.H.86 Captain, Lodestar F/O
2nd Officer Chalmers (1500 hours)
Nav Officers Taylor (1500 hours), Mathers (2000 hours)
Radio Officers Thurlow (1500 hours), Long (2000 hours), Shirley (1000 hours)
Engineer Officers Clayton (500 hours), Brown (150 hours), Dennison (Nil hours)
You should note that this company is in the process of becoming a Limited Liability company under the name of Intercontinental Airways Australia Pty Ltd.” 96
Later in February 1948, Penny was back in Sydney when he was summoned to a meeting with the Minister for Civil Aviation, A. S. Drakeford. He was bluntly told that Intercontinental Air Tour’s overseas permits to operate were cancelled. Requests for time to clear his backlog of booking were refused, although his Hudson VH-ASV was permitted back into the country because Captain Hurst had already departed Rome inbound. That final Hudson trip was a succession of frustrating delays and unserviceabilities covered below in INDIVIDUAL FLIGHTS DESCRIBED.
Penny discontinued the ICAT migrant charters effective 31 March 1948, just as their southern European agents were drumming up large numbers of prospective customers. Penny blamed DCA interference both at a policy level (demands for carriage of navigator etc) as well as specific harassment of his maintenance organisation Intercontinental Air Maintenance at Bankstown.
The Government edict to refuse further overseas permits for ICAT shattered Warren Penny’s plans for a considerable expansion for his operation, which included leasing two Canadair Fours (DC-4s with Merlin power plants):
“I had been negotiating in Canada for two Canadairs with Merlin motots, but I had to cancel the arrangements and lost a good deal of money in doing so.” 58
At that time, Penny had registered a new company Intercontinental Airways (Australia) Pty Ltd in partnership with his ICAT Director Mr. F. Megna of the travel agency Italo-Australian Travel and Transport Co, and Stan Godden. The company’s express purpose was to cater for Italian immigration, and had been allocated one of ICAT’s Hudsons, which by February 1948 was only partially converted by Intercontinental Air Maintenance. This new company never commenced operations, for reasons described by a DCA internal memo:
“The main trouble with this concern is that the Italian members do not wish to put in any further money until they are assured that the Government regulations will enable them to operate with a greater margin of profit.” 124
During February 1948 payments for 30 outstanding migrants from Italy had already been absorbed in ICAT running costs. Penny did a deal with “the owners of an American Douglas C-47 visiting Sydney at the time” to transfer ownership of ICAT Hudson VH-ASV and D.H.86 G-ADYH to them in return for them collecting the 30 migrants from Rome to Sydney. 58
This Dakota chartered by Penny to bring the last of the ICAT migrant bookings to Australia was Filipino operator South Eastern’s PI-C233. American citizen Francis James Grigware was a principal of South Eastern, and ownership of VH-ASV and
G-ADYH was transferred to Grigware on 13 March 1948. The C-47 PI-C233 arrived Mascot on 21 April 1948 from Rome under command of Captain Tucker with 20 passengers and 5 crew. Most of the passengers were Penny’s outstanding Italian migrants. Customs ledgers record the agent as Southern European Air Travel.
However Grigware did not uplift all of Penny’s outstanding Migrants from Rome with this C-47 trip, and the remainder were to be collected by the Hudson VH-ASV, which he now owned. ICAT Captain Jack Hurst joined Grigware as pilot for the Hudson, and Hurst departed Darwin 22 May 1948 for Rome and back to Darwin to collect the last of Penny’s booked migrants.
In March 1948 the ICAT hangar at Bankstown had four Hudsons parked awaiting civil conversion. 124
On 16 March 1948 DCA wrote to Penny saying the Lodestar G-AGBU must undergo inspection for Australian CofA and take up an Australian registration. Penny replied that the aircraft would be leaving the country within the next few days. However the Lodestar remained parked in Sydney. On 9 April 1948 Penny obtained Michelson’s approval to use G-AGBU on an aerial search off Coffs Harbour for a missing yacht, carrying relatives of the yacht’s crew as observers. Penny and Michelson wewre paid to fly 8 hours in G-AGBU on this search. 58
Three days later Penny wrote to DCA advising that the aircraft would soon be flown to Cairo for renewal of its British CofA by BOAC. However by now ICAT had effectively ceased operations and the Lodestar was under Percy Michelson’s ownership.
Warren Penny stated:
“By April 1948 my only income was from the Maintenance Company which was only doing outside work. I swapped my share of the Lodestar VH-BFZ with S. Godden for his shares in the Maintenance Company, making me the sole owner of the Maintenance Company. I had left then only one Lodestar G-AGBU and a Hudson, which was in pieces repossessed from some people who could not pay for it. At the beginning of June I received word, followed up by a letter from DCA that I was to be out of the hangar by 30th June 1948 owing to the fact that the hangar was required by the R.A.A.F. I contacted all the relevant people in D.C.A. to see if I could get a replacement hangar and was given a blank refusal. At this time I had 37 employees and a good deal of work on hand and some to come in. I was approached by D.C.A. and told that if I didn’t get the machinery out of the hangar it would be put out in the open, so I approached the C.O. R.A.A.F at Bankstown for extra time, which he gave me, and subsequently I managed to store all the equipment temporarily.
The word passed around very rapidly and I was forced, because of the pressure of creditors, to sell the machinery for £500 which was the best price I could get for it The Lodestar G-AGBU had to be pushed out into the open as there was no hangar space available anywhere. Some hundreds of pounds damage had been done to it by the recent gales. The Hudson (in pieces) was stored at Curtis Madsen’s Hangar and was costing £3 per week to keep it there.” 11
Being unable to trade his way out of his financial investment, Penny was forced to declare bankrupcy. His main creditors were Shell and Vacuum Oil for aviation fuel supplied and costs for agents overseas and aircraft maintenance overseas. Among the smaller creditors was DCA listing hangarage fees at Darwin during 1947/48 for parking DH.86 G-ADYH and Hudson VH-ASV in the DCA hangar.
“About this time also the Department of Civil Aviation started getting tough. They stopped us from carrying either passengers or freight out of the country (except perishables) forced us to carry engineers and Flight Navigators and cabin attendants, and also forced us to pay £20 and then up to £45 for cabling to overseas countries for permission to cross (We had previously been doing this for ourselves at the cost of £10. They also took away our Licence as a metal workshop on a technicality, and generally become most uncooperative. Up to now we had had four Australia-Europe return flights, and two England-Australia flights without any hold ups, conveying 82 migrants in, and some 20-30 people out, as well as small amounts of freight (This section was building up rapidly). The putting of all these regulations on us made it terribly difficult to continue operations. Two extra crew on a Lockheed cut down our passenger seating which was even then controlled by D.C.A.
The cutting out of passengers and freight out of the country meant we were operating on a 50% loading, ie. nothing out and 100% back. Route expenses were mounting and fares were coming down, however as our passenger commitments had to be met, I decided to carry on for a while, even if only to clear up our backlog
Accordingly, I stopped any further bookings and concentrated on the backlog. I also started to take in outside work in the Maintenance Company to augment our income and to save the drain on the Air Tours side. About February, I decided that it was impossible to operate any longer in view of the restrictions that were being imposed on us and sent the last aircraft out. Between December and February we brought in another 42 migrants on these flights. The last flight was a troublesome one - the pilot ran out of money in Rangoon and did not notify the Sydney office. As a result it cost me £1000 to pay all the bills and the Press gave us a fearful amount of adverse publicity for about five days.
As a result of this publicity I had a large number of cancellations and had to sell aircraft rapidly to meet the run on the the “bank”. I was then left with a back-log of 40 passengers, and I sold two more aircraft and with the £12,500 obtained, I chartered a Dakota to uplift these passengers from Rome and Athens, and this was subsequently done and all the passengers were in Australia by May” 11
I was unable to continue my business of an airline operator mainly because of Government restrictions on Private Airlines and my subsequent eviction from my hangar at Bankstown Aerodrome.
Although I owe a good deal of money I have not done anything dishonest - all the passengers who had to be lifted were lifted. I have not been in any gold, gun or narcotic running ventures, and I think I can safely say that my reputation in Customs branches all through the world is of the highest order.” 11
ICAT former RAAF Lockheed Hudson VH-ASV at Camden near Sydney, parked at Intercontinental Air Maintenance.Ed Coates Collection
Intercontinental Air Tourr Hudson VH-ASV "Aurora Australis" at Mascot 1947. Frank Walters collection
Passenger cabin on ICAT Hudson VH-ASV. Photo by Warren Penny via Greg Banfield
Intercontinental Air Tours aircraft:
Hudson Mk. 1 VH-ASV Aurora Australia (c/n 1881 ex RAAF A16-30)
23.6.46 Purchased by G. R. Board ex Commonwealth Disposals Commission
12.10.46 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage, RAAF Richmond
10.46 A16-30 ferried Richmond-Mascot by Greg Board. Civil conversion began at Mascot, painted as VH-ASV.
4.12.46 Ferried Mascot-Camden by Greg Board, CofA at Camden overhaul by Intercontinental Air Maintenance at Bankstown
2.47 Ownership transferred to partner H. W. G. (Warren) Penny, Sydney
3.4.47 Ferried Camden-Bankstown by Warren Penny for completion of civil conversion
9.7.47 Testflown Bankstown by Warren Penny after CofA inspection
10.7.47 Registered VH-ASV to H.W.G. Penny, Sydney: 10 passengers 3 crew
10.7.47 Departed Mascot for London, Cpt. Warren Penny, FO A.Dibbs, with 9 passengers
13.4.48 sold to Francis J. Grigware (see Grigware under FOREIGN OPERATORS for subsequent use)
Lockheed Lodestar C-60 VH-BFZ (c/n 2611, ex A67-7, 43-16451)
10.9.47 Purchased by Stanley V. Godden, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1000
26.9.47 Issued to purchaser ex 7AD Storage RAAF Tocumwal
10.47 Civil conversion under way by Intercontinental Air Maintenance
30.12.47 Registered VH-BFZ Stanley V. Godden, Sydney: CofA issued (half share owned by Warren Penny)
31.12.47 Departed for Rome, Cpt. Starkey.
Operated by Godden Air Transport and Intercontinental Air Tours
3.48 Flown Sydney-Darwin-Sydney by Warren Penny
5.48 Penny sold his half share to Godden. Now perated by New Holland Airways.
8.48 Chartered to Service Airways Inc, Rome (agents for Israel Government) for £8000
8.48 Departed Australia for Israeli Air Force, through Bahrein 5.9.48
11.10.49 Struck-off Australian register “improper sale overseas”
Lodestar G-AGBU Aurora Borealis (c/n 2090, built to BOAC order)
11.47 purchased ex BOAC by H. W. G. Penny, London via W.S. Shackleton Ltd.
Aircraft stored Khartoum after retired from BOAC wartime African services, ferried by BOAC from Cairo to London;
damaged on arrival London Airport in fog, struck a building while taxiing. Repaired by BOAC
25.12.47 arrived Sydney from London & Rome, first ICAT migrant flight, Cpt. H.W.G. Penny, 14 pax, 4 crew.
4.48 Ownership transferred to Percy Michelson, Sydney
9.4.48 Flown Bankstown-Coffs Harbour by Warren Penny with Michelson as copilot, returned next day
4.48 retired Bankstown NSW
9.48 struck-off British Register
10.48 tailplane damaged Bankstown during windstorm.
6.49 sold by ICAT Receiver to Percy Michelson, Sydney who was now a partner in South Coast Airways, Wollongong NSW.
16.7.49 East West Airlines Board minutes record that Mr.Michelson has offered his Lodestar to the airline
.49 Purchased by Doug Fawcett, Fawcett Aviation, Bankstown from Laurie Middlemiss.
12.51 Registered VH-FAD and Australian CofA issued: owned Fawcett Aviation, leased to South Coast Airways for services
between Sydney, Wollongong, Cowra and West Wyalong.
8.53 returned to Fawcett Aviation, Bankstown.
4.55 ZK-BJM sold to Fieldair Ltd, New Zealand, modified at Bankstown by Fawcett Aviation for agricultural topdressing.
D.H. 86B G-ADYH Denebola (c/n 2344) 44
10.47 Purchased by H.W.G. Penny in England ex Skytravel Ltd, Blackpool-Squires Gate, named Denebola
28.11.47 arrived Sydney on first migrant run from London, Cpt. W. T. Mellor with 10 British, Greek and Italian migrants
2.48 sold to Francis J. Grigware, Manila Philippines
1.3.48 parked in DCA hangar at Darwin from 1.3.48-12.4.48, then to Burma in support of Indonesian republican forces
(see Grigware under FOREIGN OPERATORS for subsequent use)
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-112 (c/n 6041 ex 41-23182)
10.9.47 Purchased by Stanley V. Godden, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commossion, price £1000
13.10.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
.47 Ferried to Camden, stored by Intercontinental Air Maintenance pending civil conversion
Transferred to H. W. G. Penny, Sydney
Sold to F. Megna, Sydney
Repossessed by H.W.G. Penny, Sydney. Stored at Camden NSW
10.48 Shell Oil Co, Sydney: as part payment of ICAT fuel debt
49 Sold by Shell to East-West Airlines, Tamworth NSW
23.4.49 Ferried Camden-Bankstown for civil conversion by Curtis Madsen Aircrafts for East-West Airlines,
Became VH-BNJ, later VH-EWA, VH-AIU, VH-AGS, VH-KOY
still flying with Temora Aviation Museum NSW painted as RAAF "A16-211 The Tojo Busters"
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-122 (c/n 6051 ex 41-23192)
24.4.47 Purchased by Stanley Godden & Gregory Board, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commossion, price £1000
7.8.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
.47 Ferried Richmond to Camden NSW, stored by Intercontinental Air Maintenance pending civil conversion
.47 Transferred to H. W. G. Penny, Sydney
.47 Sold to Mr. Clarke, Sydney
.47 Purchased by C. Raymond Penny, Sydney
11.47 Work on civil conversion by Intercontinental Air Maintenance ceased by now
11.54 Registered VH-AGX by Adastra Aerial Surveys, Sydney
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-147 (c/n 6076, ex 41-23217)
24.4.47 Purchased by Stanley Godden & Gregory Board, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commossion, price £1000
22.7.47 Issued to purchaser, ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
Ferried Richmond to Camden NSW, stored by Intercontinental Air Maintenance pending civil conversion
.47 Purchased by C. Raymond Penny, Sydney
12.6.48 Test flight Bankstown, pilot Warren Penny, also on 17.6.48, 20.6.48, 23.7.48
17.6.48 Registered VH-BIH: C. Raymond Penny, Sydney
10.48 Ferried to Israel
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-149 (c/n 6078, 41-23219)
24.4.47 Purchased by Stanley Godden & Gregory Board, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commossion, price £1000
6.8.47 Issued to purchaser, ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
.47 Ferried Richmond to Camden NSW, stored by Intercontinental Air Maintenance pending civil conversion
.47 Purchased by C. Raymond Penny, Sydney
11.47 Work on civil conversion by Intercontinental Air Maintenance ceased by now
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-155 (c/n 6416, ex BW737, 41-23599)
10.9.47 Purchased by Stanley V. Godden, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commossion, price £1000
21.10.47 Issued to purchaser, ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
no civil conversion
|* NEW HOLLAND AIRWAYS, SYDNEY|
Gregory Richmond Board
(6.47) “Gleneagles” 10 Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point, Sydney
(4.48) 15 Roosevelt Building, Roslyn Avenue, Potts Point. Sydney
(5.49) 279 George Street, Sydney
New Holland Airways (NHAW) was among the first operators on the Australian migrant run, mostly from Rome. The company was founded in June 1947 by Gregory R. Board, who had originally been a partner in Intercontinental Air Tours with Warren Penny and Stan Godden. Before ICAT commenced operations Board went out on his own to form New Holland Airways for the same overseas charter market, taking on partners Gregory W. Hanlon and Stan Godden. General Manager was Captain Ronald W. Howitt, although by the following year Greg Hanlon was also using that title.
Greg Board, a former RAAF fighter pilot during the war, had ambitious plans for his post-war civil flying career. Earlier he had been watching Commonwealth Disposals Commission advertisements in the Sydney newspapers, offering military aircraft for sale at low prices. In April 1946 the first RAAF Hudsons came on to the market, when ten Hudson Mk.1s with P&W Twin Wasp engines were advertised at various RAAF Stations. The CDC tender document stated “A Certificate of Airworthiness will be issued for this type by the Department of Civil Aviation under the same conditions as for Lockheed 14 aircraft.” Board went to RAAF Richmond, close to Sydney, to inspect the eight Hudsons listed as stored there at No.2 Aircraft Depot. Tenders closed on 6 June 1946 and he submitted a written offer of £600 for A16-30, which seemed in the best condition. His tender was accepted by the CDC and A16-30 was officially sold to Greg Board on 23 June 1946. 163
Hudson A16-30 was ferried to Camden airfield, south of Sydney where the civil conversion commenced. The following February it was given two short test flights at Camden by pilot Geoff Hoskins. In April 1947 Board was forming a partnership with a similarly adventurous Sydney pilot Warren Penny, both with plans for flights to Europe. Penny took over ownership ofA16-30, completing the civil conversion at Mascot where the cabin was fitted out to airline standard for 10 passengers and 3 crew. It was registered VH-ASV in July 1947 and began service with Intercontinental Air Tours.
Another Commonwealth Disposals Commission sales document dated 16 December 1946 offered six RAAF Lockheed Lodestar passenger transports and 80 spare Wright Cyclone engines. Tenders closed on 10 January 1947 and Greg Board bid for Lodestar A67-5 located at RAAF Tocumwal. A business associate Stan Godden put up most of the £1000 offered, and A67-5 was sold to Messrs G.R.Board & S. Godden, Sydney on 3 February 1947.
The formation of New Holland Airways is closely connected with Warren Penny and the early ventures were a partnership between Penny, Board and Godden. See Intercontinental Air Tours history above.
18 February 1947: Penny flew Board and Godden to Camden in his Proctor G-AIEF to inspect the Hudson A16-30 which they had purchased from RAAF disposals. Work had commenced on its civil conversion but needed interior lining and seating. Penny purchased the Hudson from them to establish his ICAT operation.
27 February 1947: the trio set off again in the Proctor, this time to Tocumwal to inspect the RAAF Lodestar A67-5 purchased earlier that month by Godden & Board from Commonwealth Disposals Commission. 58
An early business enterprise by the partners was to smuggle a police fugitive out of Australia. In this remarkably candid account, Warren Penny describes the events:
“Stan Godden had been approached by a Mr. Hammond, who wanted to get out of the country. It later transpired that he was on a fraud charge for share selling and he was out on bail pending the hearing of the case. The price arranged to get him to Singapore was £5,000 because Hammond had no passport. We each put up £500 and Board was to fly the aircraft, an Anson which we bought quite cheaply just for the job. The arrangement was to leave Mascot with only the pilot on board, cleared out to Walgett. On being airborne the aircraft would divert to Woy Woy where there was an old air force strip, pick up Hammond and proceed to Walgett. The few minutes involved in picking Hammond up did not greatly affect the flight plan. The route was via Wyndham, because Customs agreed that as it was only a ferry flight to Singapore for the sale of the aircraft, with only the pilot on board, Wyndham could do the necessary clearance. Again, the plan at Wyndham was to drop Hammond on a clay pan outside Wyndham. Board then flew back and night-stopped, cleared Customs the next day, and enroute to Koepang, land on the claypan and pick up Hammond.
All went well until Board landed at Banka Island instead of Palembang in Sumatra. The Dutch arrested him and then later found Hammond in the back locker of the Anson which opened on the inside of the cabin. The idea on arrival at Singapore was to land at Changi, a military field, and to do a long landing run. This took the aircraft behind some trees outside the vision of the control tower. Hammond could then jump out and disappear in the scrub. He was then, of course, on his own. Board would be told that he was on the wrong field and be sent back to the civilian field at Kallang.
Board and Hammond got out of the Dutch jail, got to the aircraft and under various pretexts started the engines and began to take off. As they took off, they were shot at by the guards but luckily there was no damage and they were not hurt. The Dutch of course alerted Singapore, Hammond was arrested on arrival and later flown back to Sydney. We had to refund £5,000 and we lost about a £1000 on the deal among the three of us.” 58
(Compiler’s note: The aircraft in this adventure was Avro Anson VH-ARK purchased by Gregory Board 23.4.47, departed Mascot 10.6.47 on ferry flight to Singapore for resale. A DCA report stated Board was grounded on Banka Island for 4 days by Dutch authorities who questioned him regarding his relationship with the Indonesian independence rebels. Board had taken off under gun fire and arrived at Singapore with a stowaway, identified as Mr. George Stamford, an Australian wanted on fraud charges from 1944. Police arranged his extradition to Australia. VH-ARK was sold 28.6.47 to Lim Cheng Sun in Singapore and was reportedly operated for the Indonesian rebel fighters, fate unknown. Greg Board's pilot logbook records the Anson VH-ARK flight Sydney-Singapore 10.6-47-19.6.47)
With typical Greg Board panache, he returned to Sydney from Singapore by working his passage on board the Halifax bomber VH-BDT converted to a freighter by Sydney-based Aircarriers Pty Ltd. The Halifax chanced to be in Singapore on its one and only charter flight, and Board was offered a ride back to Sydney. He was listed on the manifest as "copilot"and after several days delay, departed Singapore 2.7.47 and reached Sydney 5.7.47 on what was to be the Halifax's final flight. Refer HP Halifax in Australia on this website.
When New Holland Airways was founded in June 1947 the address was “Gleneagles” 10 Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point, Sydney (same as Warren Penny) and its imposing letterhead proclaimed:
New Holland Airways
Luxury charter flights to all parts of the world
Agents in Sydney, Singapore, Calcutta, Lydda, Athens, Rome
A DCA internal memo dated 8 March 1948 throws more light on the formation of NHAW:
“In brief, Mr. Board broke away from a partnership with Mr. S. Godden in a Lockheed Lodestar VH-GRB. Mr. Board bought out Mr. Godden with money put up by a Mr. Arrowsmith, who was discussed in a previous memo. It now transpires that Mr. Board is a “lesser light” in the business and has been supplanted by a Mr. Gregory Hanlon as Manager. Mr. Hanlon has been Mr.Arrowsmith’s assistant in previous dealings. The concern owns the Lodestar VH-GRB, a DC-5 and a DC-2 and a half. The Lodestar has been held up for some time in Karachi having an engine changed. 124
There appears to have been another “silent” partner at the time of formation of NHAW, a US citizen named Gunning Patrick "Des" Plunkett. His name is not mentioned in the NSW companies office files, but a Plunket family history from USA suggests that his main role was gold smuggling and is quoted above in The Darker Side.
New Holland Airways’ first aircraft was Lockheed Lodestar VH-GRB (ex RAAF A67-5) which completed civil conversion by Intercontinental Air Maintenance at Bankstown in September 1947. It was test flown by Aubrey "Titus" Oates and DCA issued its CofA on
1 October 1947. Three days later VH-GRB departed Mascot on its first migrant run to Singapore to collect migrants left at Singapore by European airlines. Departure Mascot was delayed 4 hours due to a Customs search, which included a body search of Captain Board, his wife and crew who were strip-searched by Customs officials. Nothing was found, however Customs said gold and Malayan and British currency had been found on other aircraft during recent searches at Mascot. 1
The Lodestar returned with 15 Greek migrants, arriving at Singapore 27 October 1947 under charter to a Singapore tourist agency and landed in Sydney next day. Pilot was Captain Board and his wife flew with him on each trip as cabin attendant. 46
Greg Board's pilot log book records his long distance flying in the Lodestar VH-GRB during the early days of New Holland Airways.
On all these flights he was Captain and his wife was hostess:
4.10.47 Mascot-Charleville-Cloncurry-Darwin-Koepang-Sourabaya-Singapore-return to Mascot, arrived 13.10.47. W/Op Morgan.
17.10.47 Mascot-Charleville-Cloncurry-Darwin-Koepang-Sourabaya-Singapore-return to Darwin, arrived 22.10.47. W/Op Morgan
26.10.47 Singapore-Sourabaya-Bali-Koepang-Darwin-Cloncurry-Charleville-Mascot, arr 28.10.47
7.11.47 Mascot-Charleville-Cloncurry-Darwin-Koepang-Sourabaya-Singapore-Kota Baru-Bangkok-Rangoon-Calcutta (
19-25.11 Bahrein-Lydda-Athens, arrived 26.11.47
Koepang-Darwin-Cloncurry-Charleville-Mascot arrived 12.12.47. W/Op Morgan
Greg Board later summarised his aircraft:
“I bought the old DC-2 VH-AEN from Australian National Airways at Essendon Airport together with the DC-5 VH-CXC. Both aircraft were in good condition although their airworthiness certificates were expired. They came absolutely complete with all radio, catering equipment and even blankets for the passengers. Both were parked at Essendon when I bought them and I took them up to Camden or Bankstown, I cannot remember which, as our maintenance section was originally at Camden and later moved to Bankstown. I also had in New Holland Airways around that time, about three Lockheed Hudsons and one Lockheed Lodestar, as well as one Italian registered DC-3 I-TROS.
All of these aircraft were used to transport immigrants from Rome, Athens and Singapore. Of the whole fleet I must say the DC-5 was the finest of them all to fly, except for its rather short range and lack of an auto pilot." 7
This later recollection from Greg Board (Jan 2003) gives a slightly different slant on the early days of NHAW:
“I purchased Lodestar VH-GRB from the air force when it was stored at Tocumwal. My friend and neighbour F/L Bill Upjohn had been the personal pilot to Chief of the Air Staff George Jones and flew the Lodestars for a Communications Flight. When I told Bill that I intended to buy a Hudson to start an air service he told me to find a Lodestar and buy it because of its superior performance. The Sergeant in charge when I picked it up at Tocumwal opened up the store for me (there were only 2 personnel on the base) and told me to fill the airplane with spares! I took VH-GRB to Camden where there was a licenced engineer who took on the job of getting a CofA for it. I think we also did VH-ASV there for Warren Penny.
Shortly after this purchase I got to hear that ANA had a couple of passenger planes for sale so I flew to Melbourne and bought the DC-5 VH-ARD and DC-2 VH-AEN for £1500 each complete with passenger blankets and crockery. At this time I took Stan Godden in as a partner as it looked as if New Holland Airways was going to grow. We started Intercontinental Air Maintenance and took over the large DH hangar at Bankstown. Warren Penny came in but as he had no money, we took VH-ASV. I put Doug Fawcett in as Chief Engineer as he was fully licenced.” 81
Doug Fawcett, who had left Butler Air Transport to set up his own maintenance company Fawcett Aviation, buying the workshop tools and equipment of Intercontinental Air Maintenance recalls:
“Australians were starting to operate aircraft on immigration runs. One evening I had a call from Greg Hanlon, who was an associate of my friend Stan Godden and owner of New Holland Airways. Greg asked me if I could overhaul an ‘upside down’ DC-3. This was what we called the high-wing Douglas DC-5. The aircraft carried 21 passengers, the same as the DC-3, but the main undercarriage, nose wheel and flaps were far from DC-3 standard. I hired Sid Marshall’s hangar for a week in my own name to overhaul the DC-5. There was no great trouble doing the overhaul. The DCA insisted that I increase the number of escape hatches, as the number fitted did not meet their requirements. Because of the hours we worked, I parked my DC-3 fuselage motor home outside Sid’s hangar and made it both my home and a canteen for my men. We started work one Friday night and finished it in time for the inspectors to issue the paperwork by the following Friday afternoon. Greg Board, who had been the chief test pilot for the CAC, tested the aircraft and I went with him as observer. There were no faults.” 10
The DC-5 had been delivered from Melbourne to Sydney on 2 January 1948 by Greg Board. After completing its CofA renewal inspection by Doug Fawcett on 29 January, Board immediately commenced crew training. Later that same day at Schofields military airfield near Sydney, the aircraft slid down the runway on its belly when the undercarriage was retracted too early on takeoff. However it received only minimal damage and was quickly repaired to enter service on migrant charters from Rome to Sydney, usually flown by Captain Ron Howitt. In March 1948 VH-ARD visited England where it was photographed at Lydd showing changes to the paintwork with titles "New Holland Airways Charter Services", the Australian flag on the tail and exotic name Bali Clipper on the nose. 82, 130, 132
DC-5 VH-ARD at Essendon January 1948 just after purchase from Australian National Airways.
Greg Board lost no time in having "New Holland Airways" painted on the aircraft. Photo: E.D. Daw collection
VH-ARD two months later at Lydd, England with revised New Holland Airways markings and the name "Bali Clipper" on the nose.
VH-ARD refuels at Cloncurry Qld during 1948 on the long haul between Sydney and Darwin. Photo: Dr.A.J.Wood
4 March 1948: Karachi-Sharjah-Bahrein-Basra-Baghdad-Habaniya-Nicosia-Athens (arrived 12 March)
19 March 1948: Athens-Nicosia-Lydda-H3-Bahrein-Jiwani-Karachi-Delhi-Calcutta-Rangoon-Mergui-Singapore-Sourabaya-Koeopang-
-Darwin-Cloncurry-Charleville-Mascot, arrived 27 March 1948. 18
The Douglas DC-2 VH-AEN took longer to get ready for the migrant run and outbound on its inaugural trip from Sydney to Rome was badly damaged on landing at Darwin on 9 May 1948. Control was lost during the landing roll and it swung off the runway. Engines and parts were removed but its hulk remained off the side of the runway for a year or more.
Greg Board said: "Of all our aircraft only one never made a trip to Europe and that was the DC-2 VH-AEN. The pilot we hired for it Keith Robey evidently could not handle the differential hand brake and ran off the runway in Darwin on its maiden flight to Rome. It was a total write off. I was overseas at the time and missed the episode.” 7
Keith Robey moved to Cutiss Madsen Aircrafts in Sydney to fly Hudsons on airline services followed by a long career in aviation with Fawcett Aviation and Illawarra Flying School at Bankstown. His copilot on the DC-2 VH-AEN at the time of its accident at Darwin was ex RAAF pilot Jim Perry, on his first flight with New Holland Airways. He later joined Guinea Air Traders as copilot on C-47s on the migrant run to Rome. 2, 45
Two views of DC-2 VH-AEN's accident at Darwin 9 May 1948 while outbound to Rome. Photos via Ron Cuskelly/QAM
On 10 May 1948 DC-5 VH-ARD departed Darwin for Rome. DCA harassment of the migrant charter flights was at its height, and instead of immediately returning to Sydney with Italian migrants, Greg Board while away negotiated its sale to an American citizen Martin A. Rybakoff, resident in Sicily the papers dated 28 May 1948. Known to all but the government authorities, Rybakoff was acting as an agent for the new nation of Israel, as described in The Israeli Connection below. The attractive deal offered Board a handsome profit for his orphan DC-5, but also included a replacement aircraft, Douglas C-47 with Italian civil registration I-TROS. By operating a foreign registered aircraft, Board hoped to evade most of the DCA restrictions being placed on Australian charter aircraft. 2
NHAW wrote to DCA on 2 July 1948 simply advising that VH-ARD was unairworthy in Italy and requested approval to transport migrants to Australia in an Italian registered aircraft. This was approved by DCA and DC-3 I-TROS arrived in Sydney on 17 July 1948 with 22 migrants and 6 crew.
During July 1948 a dispute between Greg Board and his partner Greg Hanlon had resulted in Board going to court in Sydney and successfully gaining an interim injunction on 30 July 1948 against Gregory Wolfram Hanlon, to prevent him departing Mascot Airport with two aircraft bound for Rome. Board asked the court to rule on the respective rights of the partnership between himself and Hanlon. Board told the court that Hanlon wanted to quit their partnership and sell their aircraft. The partners seem to have later solved their differences because Greg Hanlon was listed as crew on the DC-3 on some European sectors in November 1948.
NHAW continued to operate the DC-3 I-TROS under its Italian registration for four months, retaining the previous airline’s titles “Transadriatica” and the Italian flag on tail. Thanks to the logbooks of its copilot Alan Murray, an Australian who flew aircraft up to Lancaster bombers for the wartime RAF Air Transport Auxillary in Britain, we have a glimpse of the long-distance travels of New Holland Airways DC-3 I-TROS: 182
1.9.48 to 6.9.48 Captain R.W.Howitt, copilot A.Murray, Radio Operator J.Batten, Engineer C.F.Batten:
3.9.48 Darwin-Koepang-Den Pasar
4.9.48 Den Pasar-Batavia-Singapore
6.9.48 Mergui-Rangoon-Calcutta (Crew change)
10.10.48 to 15.11.48 Captain R.W.Hewitt, copilot A.Murray, Radio Operator J.Batten, Engineer C.F.Batten,
Engineer Elerbery, Hostess Elerbery:
6.11.48 Rome-Athens-Nicosia (additional crew member G.Hanlon listed as the third Engineer to Darwin)
14.11.48 Sourabaya-Den Pasar-Koepang-Darwin
Courtesy Alan’s grand daughter Carmen GrenfellHowever DCA demanded that the DC-3 must be registered as an Australian aircraft. After Captain Ron Howitt arrived at Mascot from Rome in I-TROS on 17 November 1948 with 27 passengers and 5 crew, the Douglas flew on to Melbourne for Australian certification inspection by Australian National Airways and was registered VH-BNH on 24 November. NHAW operated it for another few months to Rome until the restrictions on Australian charter operators carrying migrants led to its sale to Butler Air Transport, Sydney.
On 8 December 1948 New Holland Airways applied to DCA for a variation of its Charter Licence, signed by Ronald W. Howitt as Operations Manager. It stated “operations are mainly between Australia and Europe but any part of the world”. Aircraft used were only DC-3 (28 seats) and Lodestar (15 seats). Maintenance was contracted to ANA in Australia and KLM overseas.
Sydney Morning Herald of 27 December 1948 gave a summary of the migrant charter flights. It reported that most Australian companies had been forced out by DCA restrictions “but New Holland Airways has managed to evade these bureaucratic restrictions by registering under the Italian flag.”
New Holland Airways replaced the DC-5 with this Italian DC-3 I-TROS used on migrant charters for six months in the markings of
its previous Italian operator Transadriatica. Seen at Melbourne-Essendon in late November 1948, when it arrived for
Australian certification inspection by ANA. It was registered VH-BNH to New Holland Airways.
Atmospheric photograph at an Athens street café early November 1948 showing the New Holland Airways crew of DC-3 I-TROS
relaxing before the next sector. Facing camera on left is Operations Manager Captain Ron Howitt, copilot Alan Murray to his left.
Photo: Alan Murray, courtesy his grand daughter Carmen Grenfell
The same DC-3 at Sydney early 1949 as VH-BNH in New Holland Airways markings. John Hopton CollectionDuring 1948 Greg Board also conducted a series of migrant flights of a different nature. Instead of European migrants heading for Australia, he flew his Lodestar VH-GRB on a series of flights during the chaotic days of the India Partitioning to form Pakistan. He recalls:
“I also flew GRB in India during partition, taking Muslims to Lahore and Hindus to Bombay and Calcutta. I managed to get about 32 pax in per flight without seats. The overload was such that the first hour was a battle to get up to 2000 feet. Also did one trip with a millionaire who was a leper. He chartered the plane for himself and three servants. The entire interior was covered with linen to prevent contamination.” 81
By early 1949 Greg Board had left Australia to pursue a flying career overseas (covered in The Players below) leaving New Holland Airways and its debts with Greg Hanlon and Operations Manager Ron Howitt. By March 1949 NHAW had changed its letterhead to include a picture of a Douglas DC-4 circling the globe with the words “Rome Athens Nicosia Sydney”. 181 But in fact by that time migrant charters for the comany had all but ceased because of Australian Government restrictions.
On 29 July 1949 Hanlon wrote to DCA on New Holland Airways letterhead: “We wish to advise that our Operations Manager Captain Ronald W.Howitt has taken over full control of our aircraft and under the circumstances we would appreciate the transfer of our Charter Licence No.39 to his name. At the direction of Captain Howitt, the basic company structure and complete operation will remain as previous.” A month later on 16 August, DCA transferred NHAW’s charter licence to R.W. Howitt, Sydney.
New Holland Airways was wound up during 1950. On 11 February 1950 Hanlon wrote to DCA on NHAW letterhead advising that New Holland Airways was no longer operating as a company. The remaining aircraft was Lodestar VH-GRB stored at Bankstown. On 12 April 1950 Australian National Airways wrote to DCA: “Gregory William Hanlon who trades under the name New Holland Airways is indebted to this company for a considerable amount of money. ANA hold Bill of Sale on Lodestar aircraft VH-GRB and two spare Wright Cyclone engines. If the aircraft is sold, we will have first call on the monies paid in settlement of his debt to us” 37, 181
The matter was resolved and VH-GRB was sold in August 1950 to Overland Air Services, Condobolin NSW, with Captain Ron Howitt as their Operations Manager.
Photo: Doug Fawcett via Ron Cuskelly
Lockheed C-60A Lodestar VH-GRB Singapore Clipper, Jade Star (c/n 2538, ex A67-5, 42-56045)
3.2.47 Purchased by G.Board & S.Godden, Sydney from Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1000
15.3.47 Issued to purchaser ex 7AD Store, RAAF Tocumwal NSW
3.47 A67-5 ferried Tocumwal-Camden by Geg Board for civil overhaul by Camden by Intercontinental Air Maintenance
5.47 A67-5 ferried Camden-Bankstown by Greg Board when IAM moved to Bankstown
1.10.47 Registered VH-GRB owner G.R.Board, Sydney A
4.10.47 Departed Mascot for Europe on first NHAW migrant flight, Captain G.R.Board
8.4.48 Ownership transferred to New Holland Airways, Sydney.
30.9.48 CofA expired, retired parked Mascot 1948-50
7.49 NHAW assets taken over by Captain R. W. Howitt, NHAW Operations Manager
1.8.50 Sold to Overland Air Services, Condobolin NSW as VH-OAS. CofA renewed 29.9.50
Douglas DC-5 VH-ARD Bali Clipper (c/n 426, ex VH-CXC, 44-83232, PK-ADD, PJ-AIZ)
2.1.48 Purchased by G. R. Board & G. W. Hanlon from Australian National Airways ex open storage at Essendon
2.1.48 Ferried Essendon to Sydney and prepared for overseas passenger use by Fawcett Aviation at Mascot
29.1.48 Damaged Schfields NSW undercarriage retracted too early on takeoff during crew endorsement training,
25.2.48 CofA renewed after repairs. Entered service with NHAW, named Bali Clipper
10.4.48 Ownership transferred from G. R. Board to New Holland Airways, Sydney
28.5.48 Sold to Martin A. Rybakoff, Sicily. Delivered 6.48 to Israeli Air Force/Chel Ha’Avir.
Douglas DC-2 VH-AEN (c/n 1259 ex VH-ADQ, A30-6/”VHCRJ”, NC13733)
9.1.48 Purchased from Australian National Airways ex open storage at Essendon
2.4.48 CofA renewed Mascot.
6.5.48 Flight trials Mascot under DCA supervision to evaluate increased payload as requested by NHAW. Increase not approved
9.5.48 swung off runway on landing Darwin outbound to Europe on first migrant run, write-off.
Douglas C-47A I-TROS/VH-BNH (c/n 26675/15230, ex 43-49414)
5.48 Purchased as I-TROS by NHAW from Societa di Navigazione Area Transadriatica - Transadriatica, Venice
Operated NHAW migrant chaters as I-TROS between Australia, Rome, Athens
30.8.48 Bankstown-Mascot, Cpt R.Howitt & Warren Penny
11.48 Australian certification inspection at Essendon by ANA, “Transadriatica” markings removed
24.11.48 Registered VH-BNH: New Holland Airways, Sydney.
19.5.49 Sold to Butler Air Transport, Sydney Barragamba
|* S. V. GODDEN / GODDEN AIR TRANSPORT, SYDNEY |
Stanley Vaux Godden, “Melton” 116 Victoria Street, Potts Point, Sydney
Stan Godden was a close associate of Warren Penny (Intercontinental Air Transport) and a founding partner in both ICAT and New Holland Airways: see those companies for more detail. Godden was not a pilot, but a Sydney car dealer involved in wartime black market transactions from which he became quite wealthy.
In the later days of World War II in January 1945 Warren Penny was a pilot with RAAF 38 Squadron flying Dakotas on the courier run to Morotai. A number of pilots were engaged in smuggling liquor, cigarettes, tyres, bicycles and other items in demand by Australian forces in the islands campaigns. Penny recalls: “When I arrived in Sydney, I cashed the cigarettes in with an old acquaintance of mine, Stan Godden, who was running an operation in Kings Cross. I received £416 for the eight cases and orders for plenty more.” 58
After the war, through his association with Warren Penny, Godden became friendly with Greg Board and Doug Fawcett and helped finance their aviation ventures that lead up to the migrant charter period. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement in what today would be labelled money laundering. As well as financing the operations of ICAT and later NHAW, during 1947 Godden purchased five RAAF disposals Hudsons in partnership with Board and also under his own name, probably as investments for resale.
In September 1947 Godden purchased Lodestar A67-7 from Commonwealth Disposals Commission, with a half share paid by Warren Penny. The Lodestar was converted to a civil airliner as VH-BFZ by Intercontinental Air Maintenance and registered under the name Godden Air Transport but was intended to be operated by Intercontinental Air Tours.
On New Years Eve 1947, the day after receiving its CofA, VH-BFZ departed from Sydney on its first overseas trip, to Rome to collect nuns on a ICAT charter, under command of ICAT Captain Bert Starkey. An account of this trip appears in Individual Flights Described.
A DCA confidential report on the migrant charter operators dated 8 March 1948 makes the following carefully-worded reference to Stan Godden’s role:
“Originally Mr. Stanley Godden was the financial heavyweight behind Intercontinental Air Tours. This gentleman was a car dealer before and during the war; he is reputed to have made a considerable amount from a certain class of transaction and to have interests in several garages. He still has a large shares holding in Intercontinental Air Tours but in due course, so he tells me, Mr. Warren Penny will be buying his interest out.” 124
In May 1948 Penny, under financial stress following ICAT being forced to cease opertions, did sell his half share in VH-BFZ to Godden for a cash consideration and the balance of Godden's shares in Intercontinental Air Maintenance Pty Ltd. VH-BFZ now made at least two more migrant charters from Europe underthe command of Captain Horlock during July and August.
In August 1948 Godden sold his Lodestar VH-BFZ to Israel, via a bogus paper charter to Service Airways Inc, Rome for £A8000. Service Airways was a front company used by the Israeli Government to acquire aircraft for the Israeli air force. The Lodestar passed through Bahrein on 5 September 1948 on the ferry flight to Israel with pilot Captain Horlock and carrying Stan Godden as a passenger.
Further details below at The Israel Connection also The Players
Godden Air Transport Lockheed Lodestar VH-BFZ with Stan Godden, his wife and Mrs. Doug Fawcett on right.
Doug Fawcett on his BSA motorcycle, with VH-BFZ at Mascot, probably December 1947.
Both photos: Doug Fawcett, courtesy Ron Cuskelly http://www.lockheed.adastron.com
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-122
24.4.47 Purchased by Stanley Godden & Gregory Board, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1000
7.8.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
.47 Ferried Richmond to Camden NSW, stored by Intercontinental Air Maintenance pending civil conversion
.47 Transferred to H. W. G. Penny, Sydney
.47 Sold to Mr. Clarke, Sydney
.47 Purchased by C. Raymond Penny, Sydney
11.47 Work on civil conversion by Intercontinental Air Maintenance ceased by now
11.54 Registered VH-AGX Adastra Aerial Surveys, Sydney
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-147
24.4.47 Purchased by Stanley Godden & Gregory Board, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1000
22.7.47 Issued to purchaser, ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
Ferried Richmond to Camden NSW, stored by Intercontinental Air Maintenance pending civil conversion
.47 Purchased by C. Raymond Penny, Sydney
17.6.48 Registered VH-BIH: C. Raymond Penny, Sydney
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-149
24.4.47 Purchased by Stanley Godden & Gregory Board, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1000
6.8.47 Issued to purchaser, ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
.47 Ferried Richmond to Camden NSW, stored by Intercontinental Air Maintenance pending civil conversion
.47 Purchased by C. Raymond Penny, Sydney
11.47 Work on civil conversion by Intercontinental Air Maintenance ceased by now
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-112
10.9.47 Purchased by Stanley V. Godden, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1000
13.10.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
.47 Ferried to Camden, stored by Intercontinental Air Maintenance pending civil conversion
Ownership transferred to H. W. G. Penny, Sydney
Sold to F. Megna, Sydney
Repossessed by H.W.G. Penny, Sydney. Stored at Camden NSW
10.48 Shell Oil Co, Sydney: as part payment of ICAT fuel debt
49 Sold by Shell to East-West Airlines, Tamworth NSW
23.4.49 Ferried Camden-Bankstown for civil conversion by Curtis Madsen Aircrafts for East-West Airlines,
Became VH-BNJ, later VH-EWA, VH-AIU, VH-AGS, VH-KOY
still flying with Temora Aviation Museum NSW painted as RAAF "A16-211 The Tojo Busters"
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-155
10.9.47 Purchased by Stanley V. Godden, Sydney ex Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1000
21.10.47 Issued to purchaser, ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
no civil conversion
Godden Air Transport aircraft:
Lockheed Lodestar C-60 Lodestar VH-BFZ (c/n 2611, ex A67-7, 43-16451)
10.9.47 Purchased by S. V. Godden, Sydney from Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1000
26.9.47 Issued to purchaser ex 7AD Storage RAAF Tocumwal
10.47 Civil conversion under way by Intercontinental Air Maintenance
30.12.47 Registered VH-BFZ and CofA issued: Stanley V. Godden, Sydney (Penny owned halfshare)
31.12.47 Departed Sydney for Rome, Cpt. Starkey.
Operated by Godden Air Transport in association with Intercontinental Air Tours
5.48 Godden purchased Penny's half share in VH-BFZ
8.48 Chartered to Service Airways Inc, Rome (agents for Israel Government) for £8000
8.48 Departed Australia for Israeli Air Force, through Bahrein 5.9.48
11.10.49 Struck off Australian register as “improper sale overseas”
|* EUROPEAN AIR TRANSPORT, SYDNEY|
Managing Director Nicholas Marcel, (also known as Marcello), Kings Cross, Sydney
A Director was his son George Marcel, 8 Cottenham Ave, Kensington, Sydney
Manager: Martin L. Cherry
European Air Transport (EAT) was established in late 1947 with the express intention of catering for Greek immigrants to Australia.
EAT was founded by Nicholas Marcel, a prominent member of the Greek community in Sydney, and his son George Marcel. Other principals were Greek milk bar owners in Sydney, all of whom had no involvement in aviation. George Marcel took an active role based in Athens recruiting passengers through travel agents. At the Sydney end, operational arrangements were handled by ex RAAF pilot Martin Cherry.
Application to DCA for a Charter Licence was submitted on 15 December 1947, signed by Martin L.Cherry, EAT Aviation Manager. 181
Sydney Morning Herald 17 November 1947 reported: “A new air charter service European Air Transport Co will begin operations between Athens and Sydney within the new few weeks. Operations Manager is Mr. G. Marcel, an Australian born Greek. He said Hudsons will be used to bring out hundreds of Greek migrants”
EAT ambitiously purchased seven former RAAF Lockheed Hudsons from Commonwealth Disposals Commission on the same day
24 September 1947. While the first of their own Hudsons was undergoing civil conversion, EAT commenced migrant operations by leasing a Hudson VH-JCM from Sydney company Curtis Madsen Aircrafts Ltd, which flew two return trips to Athens. One of those arrived at Sydney on 11 February 1948 from Athens under command of Cpt. F. M. Twemlow, Customs rercording the operator as EAT.
Pilot Ted Gabriel recalls:
“As I remember it, “Mac” Twemlow and I were the first of a series of flights by European Air Transport. The aircraft VH-JCM was chartered from Curtis Madsen Pty Ltd by a Greek family from the Griffith area to bring out members of the family and other relatives as migrants. The aircraft bore the name of “Kythera" which was the island south of Greece where most of these people originated. We were employed by Curtis Madsen Pty Ltd and only made the one flight because we both then joined Qantas.” 80
The first of EAT's Hudsons to complete civil conversion was VH-BFQ, the overhaul being completed by Curtis Madsen Aircrafts at Bankstown in February 1948. It was fitted out for 14 passenger and 3 crew, and immediately departed for Europe. Unfortunately no photographs have ever been seen of this aircraft by the compiler, however Curtis Madsen drawings for modifications to VH-BFQ and drawings of its paint scheme are held in a file at National Archives of Australia in Sydney. The drawing for the paint scheme shows titles “European Air Transport”, Greek and Australian flags on nose, and name Kythera. 53
A DCA internal report report on the itinerant migrant operators dated 8 March 1948 makes the following reference to EAT:
“The finance for the purchase, conversion and operation of their aircraft has apparently come from passenger fare monies collected in advance. The only passengers they have carried to date were brought from Athens in the Hudson VH-JCM, which they chartered from Curtis Madsen Aircrafts Pty Ltd. At present they have a Hudson being converted by Butler Air Transport and another by Curtis Madsen. They are occupying one half of the hangar formerly completely occupied by New England Airways at Bankstown. Here they have five Hudsons awaiting conversion. At the moment they have two men and a boy removing camouflage paint from the aircraft.” 124
Second EAT Hudson to complete civil conversion was VH-BIA, also fitted for 14 passengers. Third Hudson VH-BIB was under overhaul by Curtis-Madsen Aircrafts at Bankstown in May 1948 when a dispute over costs caused the conversion to be discontinued and the aircraft was sold for scrap some time after EAT was dissolved.
Engineer Doug Fawcett recalls:
"Martin Cherry was the manager of European Air Transport, a company contacted to transport Greek immigrants to Australia. The company had purchased a Lockheed Hudson and we converted it for passenger use. After the first round trip, Martin asked me if I would carry out a mandatory modification to the "J" gears in the supercharger section of the Wright Cyclone 1820 engines. He was aware I had devised a scheme to do this work while the engine was still in the airframe, cutting the cost and time on the ground. The original conversion to the airframe for passenger use was paid in the normal way, but Martin suggested to me an unusual proposition for this supercharger payment. I would be paid on a daily basis! Every night, a car would arrive at my home and two men would carry sugar bags of silver coins into the house and tip them on to the carpet. They were in denominations from 3d to 2s and aways sticky. My wife, myself and the men would then proceed to count it, the end result being tallied and signed for, Apparently the men would travel the Sydney suburbs, collecting money from Greek-owned milk bars. The stickiness came from the milk and flavouring spilt on the coins." 10
In May 1948 Hudson VH-BIA flew from Sydney to Athens and return and suffered numerous technical problems. The EAT flight engineer was subsequently reprimanded by DCA over the aircraft’s condition en route. DCA were concerned over the lack of organisation of the owner for servicing the aircraft while overseas. A DCA inspection of VH-BIA at Bankstown in June 1948 revealed its electrical system was in poor condition. The aircraft was serviced by Curtis-Madsen Aircrafts at Bankstown, who received a written reprimand from DCA. 35
Later in 1948 EAT ceased migrant charters, blaming DCA harassment, the requirement to carry a First Class Navigator and the ban on carrying passengers outbound from Australia. An internal DCA memo in November 1948 states “European Air Transport are virtually non-existent.” 35
In February 1949 EAT's two airworthy Hudsons VH-BIA and VH-BFQ were sold to Israeli agents who were offering attractive prices. Identical typed letters from their Kings Cross milk bar owners were mailed to DCA stating each aircfraft would shortly be departing “on a private business trip overseas”. In fact they were illegal sales to the Israeli Air Force contravening a worldwide embargo on supplying military equipment to Israel. A later DCA investigation found that the sale to Israel was transacted by an EAT associate company named Southern European Transport Co, represented by G. Marcel, a milk bar owner in Kings Cross. 35
European Air Transport aircraft:
Hudson Mk.IVA VH-JCM Kythera (c/n 6039, ex A16-110, 41-23180)
1.4.47 Purchased by J.V. Madsen, Sydney from Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1,500
1.6.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond
2.12.47 VH-JCM Registered: Curtis-Madsen Aircrafts Pty Ltd, Sydney
30.12.47 CofA issued Bankstown after civil conversion by CMA: 15 passengers, 2 crew.
2.48-5.48 operated by CMA on charter to EAT for two return flights Sydney-Athens in Feb and May 1948
Continued in CMA service on airline services to NSW country towns
Hudson Mk.IIIA VH-BFQ Kythera (c/n 6417 ex A16-156, BW738, 41-23600)
24.9.47 Purchased by EAT from Commonwealth Disposals Commssion, price £170
12.11.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond, TT 1439 hrs
47/48 Civil conversion by Butler Air Transport at Mascot
12.47 VH-BFQ Registered, owner EAT: 14 passenger seats, 3 crew
11.11.48 ownership transferred to George Marcel, Kings Cross, Sydney
13.2.49 departed Sydney for Darwin on delivery to Israeli Air Force
11.10.49 Struck off Australian civil register as “improper sale overseas”
Hudson Mk.IIIA VH-BIA (c/n 6477 ex A16-226, FH187, 41-36988)
24.9.47 Purchased by EAT from Commonwealth Disposals Commssion, price £1,000
25.11.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond, TT 1280 hrs
47/48 civil conversion by Curtis Madsen Aircrafts at Bankstown
17.12.47 VH-BIA Registered, owner EAT: 14 passenger seats, 3 crew
29.11.48 ownership transferred to Rene Jorio, Kings Cross, Sydney.
19.1.49 ownership transferred to Nicholas Marcello, Kings Cross, Sydney
13.2.49 departed Sydney for Darwin on delivery to Israeli Air Force
11.10.49 Struck off Australian civil register as “improper sale overseas”
Hudson Mk.IIIA VH-BIB (c/n 6357 ex A16-192, BW678, 41-23540)
24.9.47 Purchased by EAT from Commonwealth Disposals Commssion, price £620
22.10.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond, TT 1322 hrs
12.47 VH-BIB Registered, owner EAT: 14 passenger seats, 2 crew
5.48 CofA conversion at Bankstown discontinued
.49 sold for scrap, struck off Register 25.5.5
Hudson Mk.IVA A16-105 (c/n 6034, ex 41-23175)
24.9.47 Purchased by EAT from Commonwealth Disposals Commssion, price £200
11.12.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage RAAF Richmond, TT 1692 hrs
no civil conversion, stored by EAT
31.10.49 VH-BKY Registered, owner Curtis Madsen Aircrafts Pty Ltd, Sydney
Operated CMA airline services to NSW country towns
Hudson Mk.IVA A16-163 (c/n 6092, ex 41-23275)
24.9.47 Purchased by EAT from Commonwealth Disposals Commssion, price £180
11.12.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD storage RAAF Richmond, TT 1652 hrs
no civil conversion, stored by EAT
Hudson Mk.IVA A16-200 (c/n 6467, ex FH177, 41-36978)
24.9.47 Purchased by EAT from Commonwealth Disposals Commssion, price £200
11.12.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD storage RAAF Richmond, TT 1580 hrs
no civil conversion, stored by EAT
Hudson Mk. IVA A16-231 (c/n 6492, ex FH202, 41-37003)
24.9.47 Purchased by EAT from CDC, price £350
11.12.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD storage RAAF Richmond, TT 1298 hrs
no civil conversion, stored by EAT
|* CURTIS MADSEN AIRCRAFTS PTY LTD, SYDNEY 42, 43, 57,121, 124|
Curtiss Madsen Aircrafts Pty Ltd was formed in 1947 to establish a maintenance organisation at Bankstown Airport, Sydney and operate RAAF disposals Lockheed Hudsons on airline services from Sydney to NSW country towns. The shareholders were John David Curtis, his brother Ronald G. “Jack” Curtis and Vernon James “Jim” Madsen.
Jim Madsen was an Australian record holder in dirt track motorcycle racing. By 1943 he held a private pilot licence and worked for ANA, his duties including acting as a supernumerary crew member on scheduled flights. In July 1943 he purchased Genairco VH-UOD to build up his hours for a commercial pilot licence, flying the biplane in conjunction with the Sydney Anti-Aircraft Group as a target aircraft. By March 1944 Madsen flew with W. R. Carpenter & Co as copilot on their Lockheed 14 VH-ADT, then Qantas in New Guinea. During 1946-47 he was a pilot with Interstate Air Services, Mascot flying Avro Ansons.
On 22 November 1946 Jim Madsen was pilot of an Interstate Air Services Anson VH-AVZ when it was damaged on landing at Port Moresby while carrying buyers to Commonwealth Disposals Commission sales in New Guinea. 134, 135
John and Jack Curtis managed a tyre re-treading business named Curtis Brothers at 55 Parramatta Road, Glebe. The brothers were also partners in Borokina Disposals, Bourke Road, Alexandria, Sydney.
Curtis Madsen Aircrafts (CMA) aircraft maintenance business was established in Hangar 17 at Bankstown, next to Marshall Airways, under Chief Engineer W. G. Brown. This hangar had previously been used by Air Carriers, a freight operation started by Mac Twemlow planning to use the Handley Page Halifax VH-BDT, which went out of business after one eventful charter flight to Singapore. CMA serviced aircraft owned by Interstate Air Services, Macair Charter Service and European Air Transport and carried out civil conversions of RAAF disposals Hudsons for themselves and European Air Transport.
On 1 January 1948 CMA commenced flying operations on a DCA Charter Licence. , undertaking two migrant flights to Athens on charter to European Air Transport early that year. Original pilots were F. M. ”Mac” Twemlow, Ted Gabriel and Jim Madsen, later including Keith Robey, K. Curtis and J. McLean. In February 1948 ANA were holding one of two retired ANA Douglas C-39s VH-ARB and VH-ARC at Mascot for potential sale to CMA. While CMA was trying to raise the purchase price, ANA sold both to Macair Charter Service (see below).
CMA’s first aircraft was Hudson VH-JCM (ex RAAF A16-110) whose conversion to a civil airliner was completed in November 1947, fitted out with high-density seating for 15 passengers. Its first test flight was undertaken by CMA pilots “Mac” Twemlow and Ted Gabriel.
During February and May 1948 VH-JCM flew two trips to Rome on charter to European Air Transport to collect migrants : see the EAT section above for details.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper published a story on Curtis Madsen Aircrafts: “When purchased by the two lads John Curtis and Jim Madsen, their first Hudson aircraft had only flown 1000 hours in air force service. They worked together converting their new purchase into an airliner. It made two flights to Athens returning with 15 Greek migrants each trip, experiencing no problems at all en route. “ 41
CMA was determined to commence scheduled airline servies with its Hudsons and applied to DCA for an Airline Licence which was issued when the Department was satisfied the company had sufficient operational, maintenance and financial backup for regular passenger services. The inaugural CMA airline service departed Sydney Airport (Mascot) on 14 January 1949 to Cootamundra and Temora, VH-JCM arriving at Cootamundra at 10.26am. Captain was Jim Madsen and copilot Jack Curtis. The airline advertised in newspapers with the following snappy slogans 48
Don’t Delay-Fly CMA
Fly CMA-The Safer Way
Morning Tea in Coota -Midday Meal in Sydney
A second Hudson was needed. During 1949 one was purchased from the liquidators of European Air Transport, A16-105 stored in RAAF military configuration. It underwent civil conversion to become VH-BKY in November 1949 for CMA airline services. The route was now extended to West Wyalong under a new operating name Curtis Madsen Airlines. Other routes were planned before the company was taken over by Overland Air Services in November 1950 and both Hudsons sold to East West Airlines.
R. G. (Jack) Curtis then went into the used car business, trading as The Motor Market on Parramatta Road, Glebe. In 1953 the Australian War Memorial disposed of a complete Nakajima Ki.43 Oscar due lack of space, and it was acquired by Curtis and displayed on top of the office at his car yard as advertising. Several years later he sold it to Sid Marshall, who moved it to his Bankstown hangar on the Marshall Airways Chevrolet truck. It is now in the United States with the Flying Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington 122
Lockheed Hudson VH-JCM of Curtis Madsen Aircrafts at Cootamundra in 1949. Photo: Bruce Winley* TRANS OCEANIC AIRLINES, SYDNEY 92
Trans Oceanic Airways Pty Ltd (TOA) was founded by Squadron Leader Bryan A. W. Monkton, a prewar flier with a distinguished wartime RAAF record mainly on flying boats. He purchased the RAAF's five Short Sunderland Mk.3 flying boats from Commonwealth Disposals Commission on 4 October 1946. The sale included the entire spar parts inventory. Monkton ferried each Sunderland from storage at RAAF Rathmines NSW to Rose Bay flying boat base at Sydney.
TOA was incorporated as a company on 24 February 1947 with Brian Monkton as Managing Director and Chief Pilot. Three Sunderlands were converted to civil passenger standard as equivalent to the BOAC "Hythe" class and initially flew mainly to Lord Howe Island and Pacific islands. Australian pioneer flying boat pilot Captain P. G. Taylor joined TOA in December 1948 as a Director and Captain. TOA later introduced four ex BOAC Solents and flew scheduled services from Sydney to Brisbane, Hobart and Port Moresby. 1, 45, 92
Bryan Monkton recalled TOA’s migrant charters in his book “The Boats I Flew” :
“This left the migrant organisations with large numbers of displaced persons waiting for transportation to their new land. One such organisation was headed by a coffee importer named Andronicus, a wiry and energetic Greek who never let up in his efforts to persuade us to help him. The long flight to Europe and back seemed fraught with possibilities for disaster and I was not keen on the idea, but over several cups of black syrupy Turkish coffee in his office, no doubt laced with ouzo, I weakened and agreed to make a trial flight to Egypt.
So Mathiesen and his crew set off on the 20,000 mile return flight to Cairo. Fortunately the risks of serious delays were minimised by following the Empire Air Mail Route flying boat bases along the way. Three weeks later the aircraft returned with 36 migrants (sic). This flight had gone so well that a few months later (sic) we decided to do it again and Mathiesen made a second flight to the northern hemisphere, this time to Augusta, Sicily.
Then we received the bills from BOAC for handling the aircraft at each port of call and found we had been charged through the nose. We barely broke even and decided not to push our luck any further.” 92
TOA’s first migrant charter departed Rose Bay on 21 October 1947 under the command of Captain Philip H. Mathiesen. The plan was to collect 26 Greek migrants waiting at Athens. Mathiesen, another highly experienced wartime RAAF flying boat skipper, explained how things did not go to plan and the flight terminated in Egypt :
"The company had arranged a charter to bring migrants back from Athens and on 21st October 1947 I started off with the old Short Sunderland VH-AKO for Europe. It was daylight flying only and about 8 or 9 hours flying every day. We went to Bowen, Darwin, Sourabaya, Singapore, Rangoon, Calcutta, Karachi, Bahrain and to Cairo. There weren't a lot of maps available and I couldn't get maps across India, so i went from Calcutta to Karachi on a school atlas.
There was a cholera epidemic in Egypt at the time and when I got to Cairo on 29th October I landed on the River Nile to be told that on that day all Mediterranean countries had closed themselves to aircraft operating through Egypt. So I wasn't permitted to go on to Athens where my load was waiting. I knew enough about the company to realise that if I didn't do something in a hurry, we would be flat broke and I would be stuck there with the aeroplane. So the First Officer, Gordon Taylor and I .... went around to all the travel agents, including Cooks. It took us about ten days to arrange a load of passengers in Cairo and we got all sorts of people. The money was collected in many different currencies and some of it wasn't extracted from the country until 18 months later. But I finally drummed up a load and started off back on 8th November, returning to Sydney ten days later.
That was quite a trip. We operated with two pilots, a radio operator, a flight engineer, a ground engineer and one steward. At Karachi, the passengers were getting pretty high in the aeroplane as they hadn't bathed for days, so I had to direct that they weren't getting back on the aeroplane unless they all had a bath." 126
The second TOA flight a year later was again in VH-AKO under command of Captain Phil Mathiesen, departing Rose Bay on 25 October 1948 bound for Augusta, Sicily. It returned to Rose Bay on 5 December 1948 with 36 passengers including two children. Clearance of passengers took over 2 hours because there was only one Customs officer on duty. 1
There is a Customs record of TOA’s Sunderland VH-AKP departing Rose Bay for Greece on 9 January 1948, but the compiler believes that it was more likely one of the charters the TOA undertook to carry workers to Pacific islands to prepare war disposals equipment. Bryan Monkton refers to these in his book:
“Other more lucrative and less risky charter flight followed. We flew demolition gangs to Truk in the Caroline Islands and to Kwajalein in the Marshalls. Both places had been big Japanese bases during the war and the task of our muscle-bound passengers was to dismantle and prepare for shipment the large amount of war equipment which their scrap metal companies had acquired.”
Trans Oceanic Airways Short Sunderland VH-AKO "Australis" which flew two migrant charters.Trans Oceanic Airways aircraft: (migrant charter only) 17
Pictured on a scheduled TOA passenger service to Lord Howe Island Barrie Colledge collection
Short Sunderland 3 VH-AKO Australis (ex A26-4, ML733)
4.10.46 Purchased by B.W.Monkton from Commonwealth Disposals Commission, ex storage RAAF Rathmines NSW.
21.11.46 Ferried from Rathmines to Rose Bay by Monkton for civil conversion
6.3.47 First test flight Rose Bay after civil conversion, seating for 28 passengers on a single deck
5.5.47 VH-AKO Registered and CofA issued, TOA named Australis, later renamed Samoa Star
19.12.50 CofA expired, retired Rose Bay. Struck-off Register 8.51, scrapped
|* MACAIR CHARTER SERVICE, SYDNEY|
Founded by Colonel Charles Morrison McDonald in late 1947 to join the migrant charters, but operated for less than six months. Three Douglas DC-2 type airliners were purchased but it appears few flights were undertaken. The company's letterhead by December 1947 was “Macair Charter Service, c/- Curtis Madsen Aircrafts, Bankstown”.
In November 1947 Macair purchased Douglas DC-2 VH-ADZ from Australian National Airways. ANA also offered Douglas C-39s VH-ARB and VH-ARC which were stored at Mascot pending a decision on their further use. These civilianized C-39s were frequently referred to at the time as “DC-2 and a half” .
Also in November 1947 Macair placed advertisements in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper offering for sale Airspeed Envoy VH-UXM. The advertisement said it was excellent for charter work, 6 passengers, just completed CofA. Many spares held including spare engine. Presumably Macair was only acting as a sales agent, because the Envoy was in fact retired at Essendon, still owned by Ansett Airways. It was not sold and was broken up for scrap at Essendon.
On 7 December 1947 Colonel McDonald purchased Douglas C-39 VH-ARC from ANA, following by VH-ARB a month later. The following day he wrote to DCA advising that he intended to fit 15 passenger seats to VH-ARC, which was currently a freighter. “I have a contract to carry a few loads of migrants to Australia on a charter basis. The aircraft will then be used for freight work.” 38
Macair Charter Service’s Manager and Chief Pilot was Mr. Alan Murray. He told DCA that his main aim was build up freight business, particularly carriage of cattle between Australia and New Guinea, as pioneered by Guinea Air Traders. But in the meantime the migrant charters offered good work for the new company. DC-2 VH-ADZ operated Macair's first migrant run, arriving back at Mascot on 18 January 1948 from Athens with 15 passengers, under the command of Captain A.J. Brooks. They had suffered an uncomfortable delay at Calcutta with maintenance problems. 19, 124
DC-2 VH-ADZ while in Australian National Airways service. John Hopton Collection
During January 1948 at Bankstown VH-ARC was fitted with seats and had its cabin lined for passenger work. CofA was renewed on
12 February 1948 and departed on its first migrant charter a few days later but was delayed at Darwin outbound with engine trouble. Whether it continued to Europe has not been established, but it was reported at Darwin in April with two cylinders in an engine unserviceable. 38, 124
Sydney Morning Herald of 17 March 1948 reported “Macair Charter Service claimed its Douglas DC-2 had been sabotaged when starting to operate its first migration flight; the aircraft had made a forced landing at Darwin.”
Arthur Carveles was a chemist of 11 Hastings Road, Kogarah, who had another business International Rapid Air Service, Kings Cross, Sydney which was a booking agency for some of the early migrant passengers. Passenger reservations from Europe were booked, then Carveles approached Macair and ICAT for space on their flights. McDonald was in debt to Carveles who went to the police, resulting in McDonald being charged with fraud and remanded in Long Bay Gaol, Sydney. Warren Penny of ICAT was approached by a friend to put up bail for McDonald, despite him not being a personal acquaintance. Penny agreed to put up the required bail, shared with Captain F. Twemlow, who flew for Curtis Madsen. 11
Warren Penny later said “I thought by going bail for him I would get McDonald in a position where I would be able to use his aircraft for some of my passengers, which I badly needed. But soon after he came out of Long Bay I heard that Mr. Carveles had attached a financial hold on his aircraft. ” 11
This was the end for Macair. VH-ARB was repossessed by ANA because McDonald had not completed the payment installments. It was ferried from Mascot back to Essendon on 3 April 1948 where ANA promptly arranged its sale to Guinea Air Traders in May 1948, by which time Macair had officially ceased operating. Ownership of VH-ADZ and VH-ARC was transferred to the creditor Arthur Carveles who arranged the resale of both. Carveles then filed for bankrupcy. 11
Macair Charter Service aircraft: 73
Douglas DC-2/C-32A VH-ADZ (c/n 1376 ex 44-83227, “VHCXH”, PK-AFL) 109, 121
5.11.47 Purchased by Col. C. M. McDonald, Sydney from ANA Essendon.
6.48 A. Carveles/International Rapid Air Services, Kings Cross, Sydney
8.7.48 Sidney D. Marshall/Marshall Airways, Sydney-Mascot NSW
8.49 Re-registered VH-CDZ due DCA requirements. Flew with Marshall Airways for charter and joyriding until 1957.
Douglas C-39 VH-ARC (c/n 2089 ex “VHCCH”, 38-532)
46-47 ANA wartime callsign “VHCCH” stored by ANA at Essendon with outer wings removed
c11.47 Ferried Essendon-Mascot for CofA renewal and reale
24.11.47 CofA renewed Mascot as VH-ARC owner ANA
7.12.47 Purchased by Col. C. M. McDonald from ANA. Operated as Macair Charter Service
18.6.48 A. Carveles/International Rapid Air Services, Kings Cross, Sydney
21.6.48 Guinea Air Traders Ltd, Lae, New Guinea
Douglas C-39 VH-ARB (c/n 2076 ex “VHCCG”, 38-519)
46-47 ANA wartime callsign “VHCCH” stored by ANA at Essendon with outer wings removed
c11.47 Ferried Essendon-Mascot for CofA renewal and reale
17.1.48 Purchased by Cl. C. M. McDonald from ANA.
3.4.48 Ferried Mascot-Essendon on return to ANA after sale to Macair fell through
28.5.48 Guinea Air Traders, Lae, New Guinea
|* GUINEA AIR TRADERS LTD, LAE NEW GUINEA & SYDNEY |
Samuel Jamieson and John Jamieson
Australian Air Traders Ltd, 12 O’Connell Street, Sydney.
Guinea Air Traders Ltd, Lae New Guinea
This vibrant company operated over 30 aircraft during a tumultuous three-year existence in New Guinea before withdrawing in 1950.
During 1948 GAT joined the European migrant charters, operating 12 return flights from Sydney to Rome using DC-3 G-AKNB. Showing typical GAT flair, the company appointed an agency in Hong Kong and some flights between Sydney and Europe routed via Hong Kong to carry charter passengers. 189
GAT’s swashbuckling pilots were legends in the Territory. During 1948 alone GAT aircraft carried over 4,000 tons of freight in New Guinea. However the lure of profits from the Australian migrant trade was to hasten its demise, because management and key aircraft were diverted from their core business in the New Guinea goldfields, resulting in failure to honour contracts and a deserved reputation for unreliability among New Guinea businesses.
The operation was founded in September 1946 in Sydney under the original name of Australian Air Traders by brothers John and Samuel Jamieson. They were active in the timber business in Sydney but established AAT and purchased Avro Ansons from RAAF disposals for an expected post-war boom in charter flying. During an early Anson charter flight to New Guinea, carrying buyers to Commonwealth Disposals Commission sales of military vehicles and equipment, Sam Jamieson was approached at Lae by the aviation manager of Bulolo Gold Dredging Company, offering large scale freight work. He explained that Qantas and the few charter operators to have started up again in New Guinea after the war were unable to carry much of his goods and equipment to the mountain goldfields.
The Jamieson brothers quickly formed an associate company Guinea Air Traders (GAT) at Lae in October 1946. Pilots were hired, mostly demobbed RAAF aircrew and as their Ansons completed civil conversions in Sydney, they were ferried north to New Guinea.
GAT commenced operations at Lae in February 1947 with Ansons carrying freight on contract to Bulolo Gold Dredging Co, as well as general freight and passenger charters, later flying scheduled services from Lae to Madang, Wewak, Aitape, Wau, Bulolo and Mount Hagen.
“Sam Jamieson had quickly realised that the Anson was not large enough to satisfy the increasing air transport demands of its principal customer, Bulolo Gold Dredging Ltd. The Anson was not capable of lifting items such as a dredge bucket, which weighed 1587 kilograms. A few months after GAT commenced operations, Jamieson went to New Caledonia and purchased a pair of C-47 freighters. One of these he sold to Butler Air Transport Company. The other, VH-GAT, went into service at Lae in September 1947” 45
At Lae in November 1947, the majority of the GAT Avro Anson fleet was grounded when a DCA airworthiness inspector found serious glue deterioration and mould in their tailplane wooden structure due to the intense tropical weather. They were replaced by Hudsons, DC-2 types and DC-3s. Their main Bulolo Gold Dredging Co contract flew supplies and staff to Bulolo and Wau, including frozen food shipped to Lae. Hudson VH-ALA operated by GAT crashed at Lae 18 April 1948 due to an engine failure soon after takeoff, killing all on board: 4 Australian crew and 33 native passengers. The native labourers were being carried on bench seating as freight, without individual seatbelts, a standard practice in the Territory at the time. This tragedy brought much outrage against Guinea Air Traders with questions asked in Parliament in Canberra, and the Minister for Civil Aviation stating that the company would be prosecuted. However the accident investigation found no fault in GAT’s operations and the aircraft was below its maximum all-up weight. No legal action was taken against the company
45, 84, 146, 149
In early 1948 Guinea Air Traders Ltd senior staff were as follows:
Managing Director: John Jamieson
Directors: Samuel Jamieson, D. Jamieson, W. W. Alderton
Manager: W. W. Alderton
New Guinea Manager: W. Fishwick
Flight Superintendent: Captain Richard Burt
Chief Engineer: G. (Bill) Humphreys
European Charters: Captain Lionel Van Praag
Senior Pilots: W. Burdus, J. Dalrymple, K. Lockyer, G. Condell, T. Deegan
The DC-3 VH-GAT was used as a freighter and pioneered the carriage of valuable livestock between Australia and New Guinea. In May 1948 two Douglas C-39 “DC-2-and-a-Half”s VH-ARB and VH-ARC were purchased also to be used for freight work but Sam Jamieson was aware of the migrant charters to Australia and was considering using them to join the trade. One ran into trouble at Darwin in August, probably while ootbound to Europe. In a letter to DCA on 16 August 1948 GAT stated that their C-39 VH-ARB was u/s at Darwin:
“The aircraft has recently done a trip to Darwin where it was grounded due to defects which were apparently the result of sabotage.” 39 Two spare engines and two engineers were flown to Darwin in GAT’s other C-39 VH-ARC, both engines were changed and VH-ARB ferried back to Bankstown, where it was parked in the Curtis Madsen Aircrafts hangar and considerable maintenance undertaken. In the event VH-ARB was to remain at Bankstown for a year before returning to GAT service. 45
This quote from the book Balus - The aeroplane in PNG by James Sinclair probably refers to this flight to Darwin:
“Jim Perry first flew for GAT as first officer on a C-39 on a ferry flight from Sydney to Darwin. He was offered permanent employment at Lae but initially declined…...He was offered yet another job as first officer on G-AKNB on the Rome immigration run, but finally took up the Lae offer, arriving in September 1948. He remembers his first New Guinea flight, in a C-39 piloted by John Dalrymple. He received his Anson command in October 1948 on one of the few survivors of the GAT Anson fleet”. 45
The two Douglas C-39s caused GAT much heartache. July 1948, shortly after GAT had purchased the pair from ANA in Melbourne,
DCA wrote to GAT stating that the payload of the C-39 type Certificate of Airworthiness was to be significantly reduced, based on recent flight performance tests. GAT Director W. W. Alderton immediately replied to DCA on 12 July 1948: “Had we known that your Department proposed to reduce the effective payload by practically 50% we would certainly not have purchased them.” 38
In a letter dated 29 July 1948 GAT requested DCA carry out flight tests in their VH-ARC to determine whether a relaxation of the proposed decreased All-Up Weight was possible. VH-ARC was currently at Bankstown having maintenance at Curtis Madsen Aircrafts and would be made available for flight performance testing the following week. However the engines of VH-ARC needed more work and there was a delay while parts were sent to ANA. GAT then decided to swap the Wright Cyclone G2s from -ARB into -ARC to allow the test flying to go ahead, which was flown by ANA Captain John Dalrymple who had extensive experience on C-39s in ANA service. As a result of these flight tests, GAT won a reprieve and DCA agreed to reinstate the C-39 type AUW back to the original 21,000 pounds.
C-39 VH-ARC's CofA was renewed at Bankstown on 29 August 1948, fitted for 14 passengers and was due to depart for New Guinea immediately. An October 1948 report stated it was in use on freight and passenger work in New Guinea.
The European Migrant Charters beckon for GAT“Sam and John Jamieson recognised the potential goldmine of the migrant runs and they went looking for suitable aeroplanes. They found them, a pair of C-47s in England. Says Sam Jamieson ‘my brother John joined me and we bought these two DC-3s from Shackletons and Scottish Aviation, G-AGHN and G-AKNB. They were British registered, and straight away we had 1,000 pounds each more payload than if we’d registered them in Australia. We could fly at 28,800 pounds all up. I traveled extensively back and forwards with the aircraft - over empty, back loaded with Italian migrants." 45
G-AKNB was placed on the migrant run between Sydney and Rome, and G-AGHN was initially based at Lae employed on the Bulolo Gold Dredging Co contract, GAT’s bread and butter. With its heavy payload, the DC-3 quickly became the key aircraft in the GAT fleet.
But so lucrative was the Sydney-Rome immigrant work that John Jamieson withdrew G-AGHN from Lae to be put to work on the Rome run.
This was the beginning of the end for GAT in New Guinea, which struggled on without aircraft and air crews diverted to the migrant runs with little response from its distracted Sydey management. GAT Pilot Tom Deegan has no doubts about these events
"The Hudson crash was a great factor in the failure of the company, but the real factor was taking that English-registered DC-3 which had 34 seats and putting it on the Rome work. There was Ken Lockyer, George Cordell, Bill Burdus, Lionel Van Praag, they used to fly this aeroplane to Rome and bring back migrants for about 300 quid each. In New Guinea we had lost our Ansons, and when they took this English DC-3 away, we became unreliable as far as Bulolo Gold Dredging went, and they got Qantas to do their work.” 45
Pilot Lionel van Praag’s usual copilot on his migrant runs was Tom Watson, who had been employed by GAT as a ground engineer but his pilot licence was endorsed for the DC-3. Watson was quickly promoted to the position of GAT Chief Engineer.
DCA officials were interviewing migrants arriving at Sydney on itinerant charter flights, collecting information on fares being paid. A typical report is this cable from the Sydney Airport office to Head Office Melbourne on 25 April 1949:
“April 23rd 1949 Guinea Air Traders C-47 G-AKNB from Nicosia Beirut 30 passengers landed 1957 Hours six passengers checked - fare £140. Cyprian agent for passengers Amathus Navigation Company” 19
Douglas C-39 VH-ARB had its CofA renewed at Bankstown 14 July 1949 after a year’s maintenance and storage following the alleged sabotage at Darwin. Weighed by DCA at Bankstown the previous day and accepted by GAT representative, Chief Engineer Tom Watson, it was fitted as a freighter with four passenger seats and two crew. Watson advised that the aircraft would leave for New Guinea immediately, carrying an aircraft engine and an installation crew to install in an aircraft delayed in New Guinea. After its arrival in New Guinea, DCA approved its conversion to high density seating, having standard USAAF Noorduyn Norseman bench type seats to carry 23 natives using same installation as in Hudson VH-BLA. A memo from DCA's Port Moresby office on 23 December 1949 stated that VH-ARB was operational in New Guinea as a passenger aircraft.
On 24 January 1950 GAT chief engineer T. J. Watson wrote to DCA on GAT letterhead requesting payload for VH-ARB to be increased by an additional 500 pounds for short flights in New Guinea. No ruling was forthcoming from DCA before GAT's attempt to revive its New Guinea operations unravelled, and VH-ARB was withdrawn from service at Lae. 40
(Tom Watson joined AirGriculture Control at Bankstown as Chief Engineer in early 1950 and two years later founded Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd at Bankstown. He remained with Aerial Agriculture until its end in 1984, operating a large fleet of Tiger Moths, then Beavers and even a Bristol Freighter crop duster)
Guinea Air Traders DC-3 G-AGHN flew migrant charters from Europe. Photo: Sam Jamieson
Guinea Air Trader's first DC-3 VH-GAT at Kiriwina 1947. Photo by Cliff Jackson via Roger McDonald
Douglas C-39 VH-ARB at Eagle Farm Airport, Brisbane during 1948. Photo by Gus GruelkeGuinea Air Traders founder John Jamieson was a builder by trade and involved in other business ventures, such as importing the first Vespa motor scooters to Australia. GAT's Douglas aircraft also operated charters from New Guinea to Australia. By February 1949 five loads of sheep had been flown from Australia to the Livestock Experimental Stations at Kerowagi and Nondugi. These are probably included in the following incomplete list of GAT flights recorded by Sydney Airport customs with Captain's name, apparently unrelated to the company’s migrant operations:
Guinea Air Traders Douglas C-39 VH-ARC. Air History.Net Archives
GAT charter operations in New Guinea had been allowed to run down while the company concentrated on the migrant charters from Rome to Australia. When the bureaucratic restrictions imade it clear the migrant trade by Australian air charter operators was coming to a close, GAT commenced a scheduled weekly C-39 air service from April 1949 Lae-Goroka-Madang-Wewak-Manus Island-Kavieng-Rabaul passenger and freight service which was welcomed by the residents who previously had long waits for coastal shipping. GAT senior pilot Captain Tom Deegan flew these services, with loadings organised by traffic officer John Rowbottom. 147, 148
In May 1949 it was reported that GAT were using C-47s on the scheduled Lae-Rabaul service. This prompted DCA to write to the company in June 1949 stating that their British registered DC-3s G-AGHN and G-AKNB were not permitted to carry passengers within Australian territory. John Jamieson replied that G-AGHN was operating livestock charters between Lae and Sydney at that time. He stated that he wished to return both aircraft to British aircraft dealers W.S. Shackleton Ltd for resale. G-AGHN departed Port Moresby on 21 September 1949 for Cairns reportedly on ferry to England. However it was, in fact, on its way to Sydney where it remained until 26 April 1950 when GAT applied for ferry permit for G-AGHN to proceed Sydney-Essendon for overhaul by Ansett Airways, still painted in British markings. While at Essendon it was sold to Ansett Airways, becoming VH-BZD. 36,147
By mid 1949 GAT was the only surviving Australian operator maintaining migration charter flights. However the situation was now intricate because in May 1949 DCA had been formally advised that Qantas and BOAC had sufficient capacity to cope with passenger traffic offering from Europe, so DCA had refused any further permits for charter operators. Three months later in August 1949 Qantas admitted that it could not in fact handle the extra passenger traffic and DCA approved a limited number of charter flights. An August GAT DC-3 trip to Rome was approved and GAT applied for a permit for a second August flight. But DCA refused the second flight on the grounds that Qantas had once again decided it could take the migrants concerned. 45
“Arrangements had already been made for the second flight, and GAT sought legal opinion on the validity of the Air Navigation Regulations, upon which DCA were relying. Acting on this legal advice, the flight was made. G-AKNB was piloted by Captain Ken Lockyer and First Officer G. Hawke, and on board was Sam Jamieson: ‘We had gotten (sic) under the skin of Qantas. The politicians made it a political issue. On that last flight DCA withdrew our rights to overfly Australia from Darwin with paying passengers. But our legal man instructed us to leave anyway. We were fuelled and could fly empty but couldn’t take anyone who had paid their passage! All the Italians - they were from the mountains - were running around, and we had no alternative but to get these people to Sydney. So I said ‘Anybody wanting to go to Sydney, hop in!’ We took off, and they were firing red Verey pistols at us from the Darwin control tower. We landed at Cloncurry to refuel. DCA gave instructions that the aircraft couldn’t be refueled, but Shell refueled us, and we flew on to Sydney. They took us to court - shows the idiocy of these characters who were supposed to encourage private enterprise..” 45
The official summary of the legal action that followed:
“Guinea Air Traders Ltd was fined £50 in the Special Federal Court for having disobeyed Australian Civil Aviation regulations and the pilot of the aircraft, Kenneth C. D. Lockyer, was fined £10 for having taken off from Darwin on August 12, without an approved flight plan.
The Commonwealth charged the company with having made a non-scheduled flight into Australian territory, contrary to rules of the Department of Civil Aviation, and having discharged passengers at Sydney without the approval of the Department.
Mr. R. J. M. Newton, representing Guinea Air Traders, said the company had allowed 28 migrants free travel between Koepang and Sydney to test the validity of Australian air navigation regulations.” 98
Migrant charters were finished, at least for the Australian companies. The foreign operators just kept coming.
C-47 G-AKNB was ferried back to England by GAT pilot Captain Lionel Van Praag shortly after this final migrant flight. On arrival at Blackbushe, Van Praag was detained by Ministry of Civil Aviation officials citing concerns over the validity of his pilot licence and the CofA of the aircraft. He was interviewed by the Civil Aviation Liaison Officer at Australia House London, who reported back to DCA on 25 October 1949 that Van Praag had made the following statements:
- GAT were about to fold, and owed him considerable money
- GAT Hudson VH-ALA, which he owned and had leased to GAT and crashed at Lae 18.4.48 killing 33 native passengers was in fact overloaded, but a fake load sheet was made out after the accident.
- GAT migrant charters Europe-Australia involved much falsification of loadings and fares 36
During 1948 Sam Jamieson had left the management of GAT, John Jamieson taking over as Managing Director. However GAT’s internal charter services in New Guinea were suffering severe financial and operational problems and the company finally ceased operations in early 1950 and was liquidated. 21
During September 1950 Charter Aviation Service (Australasia) Ltd had taken over the GAT establishment at Lae and commenced operations with Avro Ansons, which they grandly named “Avro Feederliners”. 47
By June 1951 John Jamieson was trading as J. Jamieson & Sons, Timber Merchants, Pitt Street, Sydney.
Guinea Air Traders aircraft: (migrant charter aircraft only, unconfirmed if all used) 39, 45, 73
Douglas DC-3 VH-GAT (c/n 4651 ex 41-38623)
15.1.47 US Foreign Liquidation Commission, New Caledonia
24.2.47 Guinea Air Traders, Lae: registration application.
7.10.47 VH-GAT Registered Guinea Air Traders Ltd, Lae, New Guinea
23.7.48 Sold to Ansett Airways, Melbourne, became VH-RMA, VH-BZG
Douglas C-39 VH-ARB (c/n 2076 ex “VHCCG”, 38-519)
28.5.48 Purchased from ANA, Essendon
6.48 Grounded at Darwin outbound, GAT claimed it was sabotage. Both engines changed, ferried 8.48 to Bankstown for overhaul
14.7.49 CofA renewed Bankstown: freighter
11.49 GAT fit Norseman bench seats to carry 23 native pax.
5.50 sold to Mandated Airlines for parts. Stripped at Lae, later scrapped
Douglas C-39 VH-ARC (c/n 2089 ex “VHCCH”, 38-532)
21.6.48 Purchased ex Macair Charter Service, Sydney
16.3.49 Damaged in heavy landing Kerowagi, New Guinea. Repaired.
31.1.50 CofA expired, aircraft stored u/s at Bankstown. Reportedly sold to Mandated Airlines for parts.
6.8.51 Struck-off Civil Register
10.51 Still parked Bankstown. W. E. James of South Coast Airways, Wollongong advises DCA he is considering purchase for his
Sydney-Cowra passenger service. Not purchased.
Douglas DC-3 G-AGHN (c/n 9414 ex FD868, 42-23552) 117
3.8.43 British Overseas Airways Corporation - BOAC
17.8.48 John Jamieson/Guinea Air Traders Ltd c/- W. S. Shackleton Ltd, London
1.9.48 Arrived Sydney on delivery, ex Rome, Cpt. L.Van Praag, with 28 migrants
27.11.48 visited Tamworth for inspection by East West Airlines shareholders
21.9.49 Ferried Port Moresby-Cairns for reported return flight to England, but parked Sydney.
21.11.49 Struck-off British Register
26.4.50 DCA ferry permit Sydney-Melbourne for overhaul by Ansett Airways
10.5.50 Australian registration application: Ansett Airways, Melbourne-Essendon
19.8.50 Registered VH-BZB Ansett Airways, Melbourne
Douglas DC-3 G-AKNB (c/n 9043 ex FD789, 42-32817) 117
28.11.47 Scottish Aviation Ltd, Prestwick
27.7.48 John Jamieson/Guinea Air Traders Ltd c/- W. S. Shackleton Ltd, London
8.11.48 Arrived Sydney on delivery, ex Rome with 30 migrants
c9.49 Ferried back to England by GAT Captain Lionel Van Praag
14.2.50 Field Aircraft Services Ltd, London Airport.
| MIGRANT FLIGHTS BY AUSTRALIAN DOMESTIC AIRLINES|
|* AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL AIRWAYS PTY LTD, MELBOURNE|
Australian National Airways Pty Ltd, Essendon Airport, Melbourne
Australia’s largest domestic airline, ANA was determined to expand into overseas services in the years after WWII. ANA lobbied the Government for approvals for services to Mexico, United Kingdom and USA, all of which were refused. ANA had proven long-range ability. Since September 1946 ANA had successfully operated DC-4 passenger services Sydney to Auckland, Honolulu, San Francisco and Vancouver on a temporary charter basis on behalf of British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines. BCPA had been recently formed by the Australian, New Zealand and British Governments with a clear aim to ward off a Pan American Airways monopoly across the Pacific Ocean. BCPA ordered DC-4s to commence the service but in the interim ANA was contracted to operating the route and gained a reputation for reliable service. BCPA took over the service with its own DC-4s from April 1948.
With the end of the BCPA contract, ANA found itself with spare DC-4 capacity and aircrew experienced in long-distance international flights. Thus it was perfectly placed to bid for United Nations International Refugee Organisation charters to move displaced persons from Europe to Australia. From April 1948 ANA was awarded a series of DC-4 charters to carry migrants from Rome to Melbourne.
Because the IRO at that time was a high profile inter-governmental body, the charters were promptly sanctioned by the Australian Government. The Australian Department of Civil Aviation required that qualified DC-4 air hostesses were to be carried to provide a normal airline standard for the passengers. DCA also stipulated that fare-paying passengers could not be carried on the outbound empty flights to Rome - maintaining the Government's policy of protecting its chosen international airline Qantas Empire Airways, despite QEA having no spare capacity to operate the IRO charters itself. 131, 196
Stanley Brogden in his book “Australia’s Two Airline Policy” states:
“ANA needed capital to buy pressurised aircraft and dollar permits to import them. It also needed further sources of income. If ANA had succeeded in its struggle to secure overseas services, the whole future would have been different. Meanwhile ANA began flying migrants from Rome to Australia in DC-4s, a trial operation so successful that contracts were secured in many European countries for migrant flights and charters to Hong Kong.” 8
Interavia Newsletter, for April and May 1948:
“The Australian Government began to seek an increased flow of migrants into the country in the immediate post-war period, and by mid-1947 were actively contemplating large scale charter of aircraft of aircraft to expedite the process. A multitude of local operators, using surplus Hudson, Lodestar, DC-2, DC-3 and DC-5 aircraft, commenced operations, and ANA (under charter to Orient-Lloyd Travel Service) participated in this lucrative business. A.N.A.’s first DC-4 departed Essendon on 26 April 1948 for Rome to pick up 40 immigrants. The aircraft departed Rome of 3rd May and arrived at Essendon on the 18th with Italian migrants on board. Fares quoted were £350 per adult and £200 per child.” 23
ANA also acted as Australian agent for several migrant charter operators during 1948. It appears that the SABENA DC-4s bringing migrants from Belgium to Australia were operated under a charter arrangement with ANA, which was their Australian handling agent.
Captain Keith Virtue, veteran airline pilot, was flying DC-4s for ANA at this time. He described one ANA migrant charter in the book Virtue in Flying:
“The next charter flight proved a little too interesting for comfort. It was also in a DC-4 Skymaster, this time from Melbourne to Rome to bring back a load of Italian migrants. Keith and R. P. (Bob) Smith, a Senior Route Captain for ANA, alternated flying the DC-4 via Darwin, Batavia, Negombo, Karachi and Nicosia. In Rome they spent several days sightseeing then set off on the homeward flight.
“We got weather reports before we left”, says Keith, “and we were aware that there was a severe storm on the path ahead of us across the Apennines to Bari. We had a couple of hostesses aboard and a steward to look after the Italians, who had brought a concertina with them and we were all set for a good time. Well, we climbed to 9000 feet and the weather didn’t seem too bad.”
(Keith then describes running into a series of extreme storms, with ice striking the windscreen and the DC-4 being carried up to 15,00 feet then down to 7000 feet, the same level as the mountain tops.)
“We were being constantly bombarded by static discharges or lightning strikes. All I could do was try and keep the aircraft going and the speed between 120 and 180 m.p.h. The lightning burnt off one of the aerials, one of the navigation lights and cracked a landing light. The two hostesses started praying. I didn’t know hosties prayed. Then the lightning bolts caused repeated discharges that sounded like double-barrel shotguns going off right in front of our noses. It frightened hell out of us. I kept saying “The bloody thing’s going to fall to pieces”. I didn’t think the aircraft was going to stand it. We went on battling the storms for 45 minutes and you wouldn’t believe it but in the cabin, the Italians were playing the concertina, singing and having a whale of a time.”
The next load of migrants was flown without incident and provided Keith, his copilot and crew with the evening’s celebrations in Rome proceding New Years Day 1949.” 93
The early ANA migrant flights in 1948 were operated by DC-4s already in service with the airline. However on 1st December 1948, ANA announced its intention to carry imigrants from England and Rome when it delivered four DC-4s recently purchased in England.” 1
This refers to DC-4s VH-ANF (1 c/n 3077, VH-ANG (1 c/n 10365, VH-ANF (2 c/n 1030 and VH-ANG (2 c/n 10347. The first two were leased to Air Ceylon and immediately changed to Ceylonese registrations VP-CBD and VP-CBE. ANA Managing Director Ivan Holyman purchased a 49% interest in Air Ceylon in January 1949 and won a Ceylon Government contract to operate a weekly Colombo-London return service in Air Ceylon's name, later extending to Sydney. The service commenced 4 February 1949, the two Air Ceylon DC-4s operated by ANA aircrew who were stationed at Colombo and Cairo.
There was an on-going dispute with the Australian DCA over the two Ceylonese registered DC-4s coming to Australia to fill in on ANA domestic sectors. It was solved during 1951 when both were repainted in ANA markings and Australian registrations - the ANA titles being simply replaced by Air Ceylon for each overseas departure. 9, 19, 22,24, 25,26, 27,196
A later ANA delivery flight from England in January 1951 of newly-purchased DC-4 G-ALEP (to be registered VH-INY then quickly reregistered VH-INX) collected Italian migrants in Rome enroute. It was flown out by an ANA crew as G-ALEP. Bill Eneberg was Navigation Officer on that delivery flight, and recalls:
"We had our Australian Licences endorsed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority so we could fly the aircraft to Australia. Air Ceylon was in full operation at the time with a crew based in Cairo for 3 months and two crews based in Colombo with a basing of one month. After leaving London with G-ALEP we flew to Rome where we loaded up with Italian migrants for Australia. The original intention was for our crew to carry on to Colombo where we were to hand the aircraft over to a Colombo based crew due for return to Australia after their one month's basing. When we reached Colombo the original on-going crew had not been advised of any change in arrangements and were waiting at the airport when we arrived. As you can imagine, they were very 'cheesed off' to find out that we were the only crew licensed to fly the aircraft. We overnighted in Colombo and continued on to Australia with a further overnight in Singapore. We were a little concerned that the aircraft was not performing according to the book, which was highlighted by an incident out of Kemajoran, the airfield for Djakarta. The temperature was in the 30s Centigrade at takeoff and the runway was not very long. We managed to scramble off only because the skipper dropped some flap at the last moment and bounced us off! When we got back to Melbourne and the aircraft documentation was more closely examined it was discovered that it had been fitted with an armoured floor for the carriage of gold bullion and the empty weight was 2000 pounds higher than standard." 123
ANA DC-4 VH-ANG at Adelaide-Parafield in 1950. Photo via SA Aviation Museum
Australian Customs Passenger Arrival Card from an
ANA DC-4 from Rome in November 1948
* TRANS-AUSTRALIAN AIRLINES, MELBOURNE:
While their competitor ANA was gaining favourable publicity with their DC-4 migrant charters from Rome to Melbourne, the Australian Government owned TAA did not have the spare capacity to take on such work. However later in 1948 TAA had an opportunity to show it could do the same. Five new Convair 240s had been ordered off the drawing board, to be completed from August 1948. TAA crews would test fly each aircraft at the San Diego factory then ferry them to Melbourne. Lack of range precluded the more direct Pacific ferry route, so they would be delivered via London and Middle East.
The Australian Government approved the proposal that the Convairs carry immigrants on their delivery flights to Australia. DCA stipulated normal passenger safety procedures were required, supervised by experienced air hostesses in the passenger cabin. TAA air hostess Mavis McGill was one of four who were flown to Britain to join the new Convair delivery flights, each to carry 35 English migrants to Australia. 76
VH-TAQ was the first of TAA’s new Convairs to arrive in Australia, picking up migrants at London-Heathrow on 28 August 1948 and reaching TAA’s home base at Essendon Airport, Melbourne on 7 September 1948 under the command of Captain John Chapman. It entered TAA airline service on 18 October 1948. VH-TAR and VH-TAS were delivered together, both arrived at Heathrow on 16 October 1948.
TAA Convair 240 Deliveries 8, 24, 77 ,79, 176
VH-TAO at Alice Springs NT in original TAA bare metal scheme. DCA airports inspector Phil McCulloch's photograph
was dated June 1949, so the brand new Convair was probably on its delivery flight from USA to Melbourne.
THE OPERATORS – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
* ALASKA AIRLINES, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (DC-4)Operated at least two migrant charters from Europe to Australia during 1948. An Alaska Airlines DC-4 arrived at Darwin on the evening of
2 June 1948 carrying 50 Czech, German and Italians of the Jewish faith. DCA had refused the aircraft onward clearance to Sydney, causing the Australian Jewish Society to hastily charter two Trans-Australia Airlines DC-4s to fly empty to Darwin to collect the migrants and bring them on to Australian cities.
Press reports described "a very long ordeal"for the passengers to gain Australian Customs and Immigration clearance at the airport which took until 4.30am. Insufficient hotel accommodation in Darwin forced a number to sleep at the airport while waiting for the TAA DC-4s to arrive. 187
Alaska Airlines DC-4 NC90915 arrived Sydney from Rome 12 July 1948, carrying 45 passengers and 6 crew. The flight's handling agent at Sydney Airport was Qantas. Perhaps the press publicity over the previous flight forced to terminate at Darwin played some part in DCA's decision in approving this flight to come on to Sydney.
* ALL AMERICAN AVIATION (C-46)
Flew migrant charters to Sydney from Europe in 1948 with Curtiss C-46 NC1673M.
From January 1949 NC1673M was recorded by Sydney Customs as operated by Immigration Air Transport.
Curtiss C-46F N1673M (c/n 22461 ex 44-78638) 54
48/49 USAF leased to All American Aviation
49 Operated by Immigration Air Transport Corp
51 USAF leased to Caribbean American Co
* ALL TRANS AIRLINES (C-46)
All Trans Inc, operating as All Trans Airlines was a US charter operator with Curtiss C-46 Commando transports.
The airline used at least one passenger C-46 N1800M on the Australian migrant charters in late 1949.
A cable to DCA Head Office Melbourne from DCA Sydney Airport dated 16 November 1949:
“All Trans Inc C-46 aircraft N1800M arrived 0635 HRS November 16th. Fifty passengers including four children in arms. 40 Lebanese who paid £230 Sterling and 4 Greeks who paid £250 Sterling ex Rome. Condition of aircraft re amenities unaltered from last report. All passengers questioned were satisfied as to treatment enroute. Full report will follow early next week “ 19
Curtiss C-46F N1800M (c/n 22577 ex 44-78754)
All Trans Airlines Curtiss C-46F N1800M named "Deuce" at Darwin December 1949. Photo by Phil McCulloch
48/49 USAF leased to All Trans Airlines
50 USAF leased to Flying Tiger Line
* IMMIGRATION AIR TRANSPORT CORPORATION (C-46)
A US corporation, no other details known.
“25 October 1948 Immigration Air Transport Corporation announced in Sydney that it planned to fly more than 15,000 European migrants each year to Australia using Curtiss Commando aircraft” 1
“The first migrant-carrying aircraft to arrive from Europe since the Government lifted the ban on unscheduled charter flights reached Darwin on September 14th 1949. The aircraft, a Curtiss Commando of the US company Immigration Air Transport Inc (sic), brought 38 migrants from Cyprus.” 115
Curtiss C-46F N1673M (c/n 22461 ex 44-78638) 54
48/49 USAF leased to All American Aviation
49 Operated by Immigration Air Transport
51 USAF leased to Caribbean American Co
* MATSON NAVIGATION COMPANY (DC-4)
An established US shipping line founded in 1882, which specialized in carrying passengers and cargo from the USA west coast to the Hawaiian Islands, later extending to Australia.
On 27 August 1947 the Matson Navigation Co announced in Sydney that it planned to fly immigrants from America to Australia using 18 to 20 Douglas DC-4 aircraft. No further references have been found, but Matson could have been agents in organizing migrant carriage to Australia by a number of international charter aircraft 1
* SEABOARD & WESTERN AIRLINES, NEW YORK (DC-4)
Seaboard & Western Airlines was founded in September 1946 by brothers Arthur and Raymond Norden, both USAAF Air Transport Command veterans. The new charter operator commenced operations on 10 May 1947 with a Douglas DC-4 on contract cargo flights across the Atlantic. Further DC-4s and C-46s were added to the fleet, and the company became a large carrier with Constellations, CL-44s and later DC-8 freighters specialising in US military cargo and personnel contracts. In 1961 the name was changed to Seaboard World Airlines and in 1980 was taken over by competitor Flying Tiger Line. 54, 190
On 9 April 1948 a Seaboard & Western Airlines Douglas DC-4 arrived at Perth, Western Australia carrying 44 Jewish migrants from Germany, Poland, Romania and Czechoslkovakia. The flight was under the command of Captain V.R.Sproul of New York. The migrants boarded in Paris and the last leg was 10 hours from Batavia to Perth.
The DC-4 was impounded on arrival Perth because at that time Perth Airport was not a designated entry port into Australia for international flights and no customs or immigration facilities were provided. This had caused several days delay for the migrants, although all their papers were found to be in order. 160
* SKYWAYS INTERNATIONAL, MIAMI, FLORIDA (Curtiss C-46s)
Skyways International Trading & Transport Co Inc, Miami, Florida.
President Robert J. Bergeron. (1948)
Skyways International flew a number of C-46 Commandos on the Australian migrant run, apparently operating for Immigration Air Transport Corporation. Included was N53472, one of the rare C-46E model with “stepped” cockpit windscreen.
Sydney Morning Herald newspaper 16 January 1949 reported:
“A Skyways International Curtiss Commando landed at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport at 3.10pm, one hour earlier than the radioed time of arrival; the 48 European migrants were forced to remain in the aircraft because Customs, Immigration and Health officials were not available; the passengers had not eaten for 12 hours; requests to allow the passengers out of the closed aircraft were refused by airport officials.” 1
Skyways International Trading & Transport Co was a non-scheduled cargo and passenger charter operator, conducting flights to Latin America 1946-1951 using C-46s, C-47s, Lodestars and Sikorsky VS-44A flying boats. The company was also operating charters in Iraq 1948-51 with US registered Curtiss C-46 Commandos. 54
Skyways International acquired two Vought Sikorsky VS-44As NC41881 and NC41882 in June 1947. These large flying boats were to be based in Uruguay on contract with a local airline Transportes Aereos de Carga International. However Skyways won a Ecuadorian Government freight contract and NC41882, reregistered in Ecuador as CX-AIR, crashed during a night landing on the River Plate at Montevideo on 15 August 1947 while carrying supplies for rebels fighting the Paraguayan Government.
VS-44A NC41881 was returned to USA and leased to Captain Charles Blair’s Associated Air Transport Inc during July-August 1947 for military supply flights from a lake in Michigan to Keflkavik, Iceland to support construction of the US military air base at Keflavik.
Skyways purchased their first Curtiss C-46 Commando on April 26 1946 from the US Reconstruction Finance Corp at Walnut Ridge Army Air Force Base, Arkansas. It was a C-46E model, registered as NC53472 and operated on charters carrying cargo to the Middle East and Latin America until about 1951. 85
During the early post-war reduction of military strength, the US Government offered near new US Air Force Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commandos to civil operators on lease arrangements as low as $300 per month with the latest model Pratt & Whitney engines, new three bladed props and spare parts package. Many of these leased C-46s were in use with US scheduled and charter operators before they were taken back by USAF during the Korean War period.
Skyways International leased six C-46Fs from the USAF effective 19 May 1948. These included NC1649M, NC1650M and NC1651M. The Civil Aeronautics Administration (forerunner of today's FAA) awarded Skyways International Trading & Transport Corporation an Approved Type Certificate (ATC 808) for a civil conversion of the C-46F model. Other US carriers held ATCs for civil conversions of earlier models of C-46. 28, 54, 55, 86, 88
Skyways International C-46F Commando NC1648M at Makassar, Celebes late 1948 between Singapore and Darwin.
The European migrants are wearing heavy clothing which must have been uncomfortable in the equatorial heat.
Air History.net Photo Archives
Curtiss C-46 Commando NC1648M of Skyways International is seen re-boarding its migrant passengers at Singapore after
a refuelling stop enroute from Europe to Australia. Photo via Robert Wiseman
|Skyways International Curtiss C-46E NC53472 named "Big Bird" at Darwin 1949. Note the stepped cockpit unique to this |
model of Commando series. Photo: Kevin Millbank via David Vincent
|Skyways International Curtiss Commando fleet: 54, 88|
Curtiss C-46E NC53472 Big Bird (c/n 2932 ex 43-47406)
26.4.46 Skyways: purchased ex Reconstruction Finance Corp disposals at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.
51 Colonial Trust Co, New York: operated by Caribbean American Airlines
Curtiss C-46F NC1646M (c/n 22393 ex 44-78570)
19.5.48 USAF leased to Skyways International
22.8.49 USAF leased to Seaboard & Western
Curtiss C-46F NC1647M (c/n 22394 ex 44-78571)
19.5.48 USAF leased to Skyways International
Curtiss C-46F NC1648M (c/n 22395 ex 44-78572)
19.5.48 USAF leased to Skyways International
22.8.49 USAF leased to Seaboard & Western Airlines
Curtiss C-46F NC1649M (c/n 22561)
19.5.48 USAF leased to Skyways International
2.6.48 Registered to Skyways International Trading & Transport Co
18.3.50 FAA report: Total airframe hours only 152 hrs 27 mins
21.3.50 USAF leased to Seaboard & Western Airlines
Curtiss C-46F NC1650M (c/n 22563 ex 44-78740)
9.12.48 USAF leased to Skyways International
8.48 accident at Pyote TX, operated by Skyways International
14.2.49 Registered to Skyways International Trading & Transport Co
20.1.50 leased to Continental Charters Inc
Curtiss C-46F NC1651M (c/n 22399 ex 44-78576)
19.5.48 USAF leased to Skyways International
30.9.48 damaged in groundloop on takeoff, Bastra, Iraq
14.2.49 Registered to Skyways International Trading & Transport Co
15.5.50 Sold to Arabian American Airlines
|* TRANSOCEAN AIR LINES, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - TALOA (DC-4)|
Heavy aircraft charter airline founded by Captain Orvis M. Nelson and Ray T. Elsmore in 1946, initially US military contracts across Pacific to Hawaii and Japan using C-54s leased from USAF. Built up a large fleet of DC-4s and C-46s and entered developmental contracts with Philippine Airlines, Air Jordan, Air Djibouti, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Pak Air (Pakistan), Japan Airlines among others. TALOA went on to become a scheduled passenger airline with Constellations and Stratocruisers before ceasing operations in 1960 and filing for bankcrupcy. 55
A report in Flight Magazine dated 24 July 1947 stated:
“An air immigration scheme for prospective Australian settlers may be introduced soon if Mr. Arthur Calwell, Australian Minister for immigration, approves a plan put forward by a San Francisco aircraft company to fly a thousand British migrants a month to Australia. The company plans to use ten DC-4s for the operation. Mr Calwell, commenting on the suggestion said “I am most interested and will go into the offer thoroughly.” Mr Calwell is leaving for the United States in a few weeks’ time.” 101
Nothing came of this proposal, which almost certainly came from Transocean Airlines
The book "Folded Wings - A History of Transocean Air Lines" records the following:
“In August of 1948, Transocean contracted with the International Refugee Organisation (IRO) for a flight from Paris to Australia with 50 European migrants. The flight plan was complicated because some of the passengers were Jews. This meant TAL would be unable to take the most direct route and would need to avoid flying over any Arabian countries, The plan called for the aircraft to be routed from Paris over Rome and Athens with the first refuelling stop to be Abadan, Iran.
Before takeoff, Captain Galvin “Ace” Sargent was handed a cablegram ostensibly from TAL’s office in Shannon, Ireland. Its instructions were for him to continue past Abadan and land at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on the Perian Gulf. The message was received without any suspicion, and Sargent insisted that a confirmation of the new plan had been made en route over Paris.
Before the transport’s descent over Saudi Arabia and landing at Dhahran, the uneventful flight was forced to deviate from the flight plan. The traffic control tower at Dhahran refused permission to land. In the middle of the Arab world, carrying a charter of Jews, and now low of fuel, the situation looked bleak. Why was the flight plan changed by Shannon and now permission to land denied, wondered Sargent.
After many airports in the Persian Gulf refused landing rights to Captain Sargent, the Iraqis across the Gulf at Basra finally granted permission. The tower cleared the aircraft to land and refuel. When it came to a stop near the terminal, it was rushed by soldiers carrying rifles. Bob Glattly, who was the TAL navigator, said that the soldiers threatened to kill everyone as they herded them into a hotel at the airport. Now out of radio contact with the world, the Transocean flight was reported as lost and unaccounted for. Three days later, a pilot flying for an oil company landed at the airport and saw the Transocean plane. After his departure, he reported its location on the ramp at Basra to the airline’s Middle East division offices. The US State Department, IRO and Transocean headquarters negotiated for 18 days before the aircraft and its passengers were allowed to continue to the destination, Australia.” 55
THE OPERATORS - INTERNATIONAL
|* AIR TRANSPORT CO, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (Lodestars, Stirlings)|
Originally formed in early 1947 as Trans-Air, which planned passenger and freight charters from Brussels with RAF disposals Handley Page Halifax bombers. However Chief Pilot Geoffrey Arlington convinced the management that Short Stirlings were better suited, and he was sent to RAF Polebrook where over 80 RAF Stirlings were lined up awaiting sale for scrap. He purchased 12 Stirling C Mk.V transports including spares for a total price of £2,000. Civil conversions were contracted to Airtech Ltd at Thame, some as freighters and some fitted with seating for 36 passengers. Meanwhile a busy period of recruiting and endorsing pilots and ground staff took place. First Stirling delivered to Brussels was OO-XAD in June 1947, which flew the company’s first charter on 13 June when Geoffrey Arlington flew from Brussels to RAF Manston to pick up a load of pigs bound for Italy. Three more Stirlings were delivered to Brussels and Trans-Air commenced a series of charters to China, taking Roman Catholic priests and nuns to Shanghai to be missionaries. The route was 24,000 miles return.
In October 1947 the Trans-Air operation was taken over by another Belgian charter company, Air Transport SA, which retained the existing personnel and recuited more for planned expansion as additional Stirlings completed their civil conversions.
On 22 December 1947 Stirling OO-XAC crashed on takeoff at Kunming, China on the last leg to Canton. The copilot was killed, 5 were injured, but 30 other passengers and crew were unhurt. The aircraft had departed Brussels on 13 December for Rome with 30 Belgian missionaries on board. On takeoff from Kunming, three engines failed and Captain Tam Morrison made a forced landing straight ahead through a cemetery where stone burial mounds tore into the aircraft. The crew was required to wait in China during the accident enquiry, before being collected by a company Lodestar in February 1948. 68, 70, 71, 168
Air Transport SA was one of the early foreign operators to commence carrying migrants to Australia, and was usually referred to as Belgian Air Transport Co. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on 27 August 1947 reported: “The Belgian Air Transport Co plans to operate Lockheed Lodestars and Douglas DC-4s on an eight day service commencing 1 November 1947. “ Air Transport Co did fly migrants to Australia in each of its three Lodestars, but did not own DC-4s, so presumably the SABENA DC-4s which flew migrants to Australia were operating on a cross-charter arrangement.
Newspaper reports record the Belgian company’s early Lodestar trips to Australia:
- Canberra Times 5 December 1947:
“Darwin Thursday (4th): A Belgian Lockheed Lodestar arrived today with 29 (sic) immigrants. It was under charter to BOAC to bring out migrants who could not be accommodated on other aircraft. The plane’s radio failed on the final stage between Timor and Darwin. The wheel brakes failed when the machine landed but there was no mishap.”
- Brisbane Telegraph January 1948:
“A Belgian Lockheed Lodestar, Sydney-bound, landed at Darwin with 12 British migrants and continued its journey. The plane left Brussels on December 30. Two of the migrants left the plane at Darwin. The others intend to settle in Mackay, Sydney and New Zealand.
The plane arrived at Cloncurry a little after 11am and continued on its journey, intending to call at Bowen and Brisbane. A Yorkshireman, Mr. John Richardson, who has his wife and child with him, told a Brisbane Telegraph reporter by phone from Cloncurry that he “thought he was in paradise”. Asked what he intended to do in Australia, Mr Richardson said “I did local government work in England but I will do anything here. Australia seems such a grand place that I don’t think the work I do will alter things greatly” he added. Mr. Richardson will settle in Mackay with relatives.”
Details of the January 1948 Lodestar flight in OO-GVP come from the logbook of pilot Cecile Heems who acted as a stewardess on two Air Transport Co flights to Australia, with more information in a book she later published Les Chemins du Ciel. This flight in Lodestar OO-GVP was scheduled to depart Belgium on 30 November 1947 but was delayed by a series of problems including radios, and finally got away a month later on 30 December 1947 under the command of Captain Baudox with First Officer Tacquin and a total of 5 crew. The number of passengers not given, but no passengers spoke French or Belgian:
7.1.48 Rangoon-Phnom Penh-Singapore (delay due engine problems)
10.1.48 Sourabaya-Koepang. (delay due burst tyre)
23.1.48 Departed Sydney on return to Brussels, delays at Phnom Penh, Baghdad and 6 days at Damas due vibrating and smoking engine.
10.2.48 Arrived Brussels
Air Transport Co operated their Short Stirlings on migrant charters to Australia during 1948. Three have been identified. The first reached Darwin on 19 May 1948 carrying 30 migrants from Rome and Athens. It had blown a tyre landing at Macassar, Celebes on the last stage to Australia and the crew had made a temporary repair. A replacement tyre from England was air-freighted to Darwin.
Stirling OO-XAL departed Brussels on 3 June 1948 under command of Captain Lucke (ex RAF) and like the Lodestar trip described above, company pilot Cecile Heems acted as stewardess, and thanks to her book Les Chemins du Ciel. we have details of this adventurous trip:
8.6.48 Rangoon-Singapore-Macassar. In flight to Macassar a port Bristol Hercules engine exploded in flight, was shut down and feathered. A three-engined landing made at Mascassar, where the Stirling was grounded waiting for engine repairs. Eleven days later, during the night of June 19-20, the replacement aircraft, Stirling OO-XAK, arrived at Macassar flown by another ex RAF pilot Captain S.W. Rogers. It carried a set of engine spares, which were quickly found to be unsuitable. OO-XAL’s flight engineer accompanied the passengers to Sydney on OO-XAK where he unsuccessfully attempted to find the required engine parts, before returning on the aircraft to Macassar.
20.6.48 OO-XAK flew Macassar-Darwin
(Next day at Macassar a telegram from the company in Brussels advised that the correct engine spares had been dispatched on another company Stirling on the regular charter service to China. However luck was really against them, because the spares were not off-loaded at Calcutta as intended for onward shipment to Macassar, instead remaining on board to China. Some days later the parts finally reached Macassar. While the engine was being rebuilt in tropical heat, the crew received a telegram from company head office telling them that OO-XAL had been sold to an Egyptian company and that once repaired, they should deliver it to Cairo and leave it there.
17.7.48 OO-XAL Macassar-Batavia
20.7.48 Karachi-Bahrein. Delay at Bahrein due engine maintenance
22.7.48 Bahrein-Cairo. On arrival Cairo, the hapless crew received a telegram from Air Transport Head Office stating that the sale had not been completed, and the aircraft should continue to Brussels.
Stirling OO-XAK returned to Darwin via Macassar in the Celebes in October 1948 carrying migrants, mostly Greek nationality. Later that month OO-XAK was among the Air Transport Stirlings sold to the Royal Egyptian Air Force, using a small civil operator Tangiers Air Charter Co as cover because aircraft sales to Arab countries and the newly founded Israel had been banned. 74
Short Stirling OO-XAK of Air Transport Co, Brussels at Darwin during 1948. John M. Smith collection
Other Air Transport Co Stirlings OO-XAS and OO-XAV at Blackbushe, England in July 1948. Photo by Dave Freeman
Air Transport Co fleet: (only those used on Australian migrant charters)
Lockheed L.18 Lodestars: 68, 70,71
OO-GVP (2322 ex 42-55905, NC9095H)
25.3.47 delivered to Belgium ex USA via Prestwick as NC9095H
4.4.47 Registered OO-GVP to Air Transport Co, Brussels
27.7.48 crashed Wadi Haifa, Sudan
OO-OLY (2469 ex 42-55996, NC29218)
8.5.47 Registered OO-OLY to Air Transport Co, Brussels
10.47 diverted RAF Benina, Benghazi, Libya while en route El Adem to Malta,
3.50 retired due company collapse
31.12.50 Struck off register, broken up
OO-EDS (2442 ex 42-55984, NC55984)
30.6.47 Registered OO-EDS to Air Transport Co, Brussels
26.10.47 refuelled at Bombay-Santa Cruz 26.10.47 enroute Australia
21.3.48 arrived Sydney 21.3.48 from Brussels
27.4.51 sold to R. Lefebre, Etterbeek, Brussels
Short Stirling C.Vs: 68,70,71
OO-XAK (ex RAF PK136)
3.5.48 Registered OO-XAK to Air Transport Co, Brussels
10.48 sold to Tangiers Air Charter Co, to Royal Egyptian Air Force
OO-XAL (ex RAF PK182)
28.2.48 OO-XAL test flown RAF Polebrook after CofA conversion overhaul
1.6.48 Registered OO-XAL to Air Transport Co, Brussels
18.8.48 crashed landing Bovingdon, over-ran runway into a field damaging landing gear and props 111
29.10.48 struck off register, broken up at Bovingdon
On 24 March 1950 a public auction of assets of Air Transport Company S.A. (in bankruptcy) was held at Melsbroek airfield, Brussels. Included were three Lockheed Lodestars, an Auster and a Percival Proctor and a quantity of spare parts including parts for Short Stirling aircraft. 69
* CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS, HONG KONG (DC-3)
Operated numerous DC-3 freight flights between Sydney and Hong Kong during 1946-1948. The airline was among the first to carry migrants to Australia, initially from Rangoon and Singapore to Sydney.
“Cathay Pacific became involved in a lucrative carriage of migrants who flocked from several European countries to Australia, carrying its first load in October 1947. Radio Officer Ken Wolenski told me of one of these migrant trips in Cathay Pacific’s first DC-3 VR-HDB, skippered by John Furley. Their route lay between Rangoon and Darwin, with technical stops at Bangkok, Singapore, Soerabaya and Koepang. At Singapore the ground engineer found a broken rudder hinge, and naturally, no spares were available. It seemed that Cathay Pacific would lose heavily on its charter as some 28 migrants would soon be eating their heads off at Raffles Hotel at company expense.
Then Furley remembered that some of his old RAF chums would be at Changi airfield, so the crew hailed a taxi and were soon breasting the bar at the RAF Officers Mess, surrounded by Furley’s old friends, each insisting he would buy the next drink. The total mess bill amounted to about 12 to 15 Straits dollars, but since it was Air Force duty free grog that is no indication of the amount consumed.
‘We were soon making a somewhat unsteady way to the RAF stores’ Ken Wolenski said, ‘and were there presented with a handful of the elusive rudder hinges. Someone insisted I should have my very own hinge as a momento of the event. I still have it somewhere. With the repair made we were soon on our way, a little hung over.’ When Furley later submitted the grog account to the company for payment it was refused.” 33
7 October 1947 27 Greeks and two Italians were flown into Darwin on a Cathay Pacific Airways DC-3; they had flown to Singapore on a KLM flight before transferring to the Cathay charter flight. The DC-3 continued on to Sydney on 9 October 1947. 62
On 20 February 1948 a Cathay Pacific DC-3 arrived in Darwin from Singapore, carrying 21 migrants, including British subjects from Palestine. DCA would not allow the flight to continue to Sydney, and the passengers were off-loaded at Darwin to wait for a TAA DC-3 to carry them further. 106
During 1948, Indian rebels were on the edge of Calcutta’s Dum Dum Airport and firing at aircraft.
“At the same time Pat Hall was flying there for Cathay Pacific Airways and they shot off one of his wheels as he was taking off. A good place to get out of!” It is not confirmed that this was a migrant flight because Cathay did operate numerous charters, for example Calcutta to Sydney in April 1948 with 17 ships crew. 3
As an interesting aside, a number of Cathay Pacific’s visits to Mascot from late 1948 were from Douglas C-47 VR-HDJ. This particular Dakota had been used for long-term charters for Indonesian Republicans in 1947. The first crew flew from Hong Kong to Singapore where directions were received in a cloak-and-dagger style in the dining room of the Raffles Hotel. Their operations were based at Jogjakarta on Java, which was Doctor Ahmed Sukarno’s headquarters for the independence fight against the Dutch. VR-HDJ flew daily return flights to Bukittinggi on Sumatra for a number of months, with Cathay Pacific crews on three week rotations. The Cathay charter was discontinued after Dutch P-40s shot down C-47A VT-CLA on similar work on 21 October 1947. It had just been purchased in India and was being flown by Cathay pilot Roy Hazelhurst and a Captain Cunningham, who was establishing an air force for Sukarno. 52
* SABENA, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (DC-4s)
SABENA DC-4s flew a number of migrant charters to Australia, probably in a cross-charter arrangement with Belgian Air Transport Co. SABENA had a large DC-4 fleet, the following two have been identified on migrant runs: 70, 71
OO-CBS Douglas C-54A (c/n 10326 ex OO-SBS, N49539, Bu39173, 42-72221)
5.47 OO-SBS purchased by SABENA ex Douglas
3.6.48 OO-CBS re-registered by SABENA
10.50 sold to Belgian Air Force as KX-1
OO-CBD DC-4-1009 (c/n 42906)
22.2.46 Registered to SABENA Ville dce Bruxelles
26.2.46 transferred to SABENA Congo services
(later leased to United Nations, then sold to Air Congo as 9O-CBD, 9Q-CBD)
SABENA DC-4 OO-CBD at Brussels 1947 R.A.Scholefield collection
|* SOUTH EASTERN, MANILA, PHILIPPINES (DC-3)|
Warren MacMillian, Manila, Philippines
South Eastern, a syndicate based in Manila, Philippines, operated an DC-3 PI-C233 on migrant charters to Australia. Principal was a United States citizen Mr. Warren MacMillan. The main work of the syndicate was earth-moving, including demolition of war damaged buildings in Manila. 124
The first recorded visit of PI-C233 to Sydney was on 13 January 1948 under the command of Captain L. M. Tucker, under charter to Airways Burma. It brought a load of passengers for Thomas Cook & Co Ltd.
Greg Board of rival migrant charter operator New Holland Airways was Captain of PI-C233 between 2-17 February 1948 when it flew Karachi-Athens-Karachi, with a fortnight on thre ground at Athens.
PI-C233 then became a regular arrival at Sydney carrying migrants from Europe, usually flown by Captain L. M. Tucker. Later flights to Sydney were under the command of Captain U. L. Caldoza, presumably a Filipino national. Interestingly, the Customs records for this DC-3 at Mascot quote Captain Tucker's initials as W. D. Tucker, and there is a record of a Philippine Airlines Douglas C-47 PI-C141 being flown from Hong Kong to Bangkok on 21 October 1946 by Captain W. D. Tucker. 143
Warren McMillan purchased two ex Netherlands East Indies Air Force Lodestars retired in Australia at RAAF Tocumwal, LT931 and LT934. These are listed as sold by the US Foreign Liquidation Commission in 1948 to an owner at Manila, Philippines. Stan Godden had also been interested in acquiring these two Lodestars. Having been parked in the weather at Tocumwal for three years, they were considered unfit for a ferry flight. Doug Fawcett of Fawcett Aviation was given the job of dismantling both and moving them by road to Bankstown, a very demanding task along the poor standard of country roads at that time. By the time Fawcett started civil conversion at Bankstown, MacMillan had backed out of the deal and both Lodestars defaulted to Doug Fawcett, who later operated them as freighters VH-FAB and VH-FAC. 94, 124
An internal DCA memo dated 8 March 1948 reports:
“DC-3 PI-C233 has now been chartered out to Intercontinental Air Tours and are therefore employing their custom for a trip from Darwin to Rome and return to Sydney. Mr. MacMillan is considering putting a certain amount of capital into Intercontinental Air Tours, both in the way of cash and aircraft. The aircraft will probably consist of the C-47B and the two Lodestars. This investment will be subject to discussion and ratification by Mr.MacMillan’s partners, the majority of whom are at present in Singapore. Should this deal come off, Intercontinental Air Tours should then be on more solid foundation than at present.” 124
As shown in the history of ICAT above, this investment was not finalised, in fact almost the opposite occurred. Warren Penny of ICAT was in such financial difficulties that he sold two of his aircraft to the South Eastern syndicate, through another of their principals, US citizen Francis James Grigware. In February 1948 Warren Penny was forced to pull out of the migrant trade and did a deal with “the owners of an American Douglas C-47 visiting Sydney at the time” to transfer ownership of ICAT Hudson VH-ASV and DH.86 G-ADYH to them in return for South Eastern collecting 40 outstanding migrants booked with ICAT from Rome to Sydney. 58
Warren Penny recalls the events: 11, 58
“I made arrangements with some Americans to bring these 40 passengers out. I could not afford to pay them £12,500 for the passages so I sold two of my aircraft to pay for the trips. The sale of these two aircraft returned £12,500. It was a contra agreement with the people who own the aircraft they contracted to carry the 40 passengers. It was an aircraft owned by a man named Martino who was a Philippine merchant and he had a syndicate operating and which consisted of people named Tucker, McMillan and others - there were about 5 of them in the syndicate. It was known as PI-C233”
I gave them the Hudson and D.H.86 in return for two flights to lift my backlog. They agreed and I organised my mother to go out on the first trip on the DC-3. She fell over in Singapore and broke her wrist and was put in hospital. She had to stay in Singapore for some weeks before the second flight, which was done by Captain Hurst in the Hudson for the new owners and he picked her up and took her to Rome.”
DCA Head Office Melbourne cabled their Darwin Airport office on 20 April 1948:
“Approval has been granted DC3 aircraft PIC233 under charter Intercontinental Air Tours proceed Sydney purpose disembarkation of passengers from Rome and Athens subject compliance with Australian Certification of Safety conditions and subject to loading restrictions as EER BCAP 003 Criterion Runs Charter ie aerodromes Darwin Sydney 26200 Longreach Cloncurry Daly Waters 26100 Charleville Camooweal 26050 pounds Maximum All Up Weight. Approval is given without prejudice to attitude of this Department to future applications. Please advise Mr. Penny accordingly.” 19
Ownership of VH-ASV and G-ADYH was transferred to Frank Grigware on 13 April 1948. The DC-3 PI-C233 arrived Mascot eight days later from Rome under command of Captain Tucker with 20 passengers and 5 crew. Most of the passengers were Penny’s outstanding Italian migrants. The remainder were to be collected by the Hudson VH-ASV which Grigware now owned. ICAT Captain Jack Hurst joined Grigware as pilot for the Hudson, and Hurst departed Darwin 22 May 1948 for Rome and back to Darwin.
Frank Grigware appears to have then moved his base to Burma, flying the Hudson and DH.86 in support of the Indonesian independence fighters. See further details of his subsequent activities in The Burma Connection below.
When PI-C233 arrived Sydney on 11 September 1948 from Rome, Customs records quoted the Australian agents as a new name Eastern Developments Pty Ltd, O’Connell Street, Sydney.
Sydney Morning Herald newspaper 22 November 1948 reported:
“Eastern Developments Pty Ltd, O’Connell Street, Sydney are now flying large numbers of migrants from Europe. In early November one of their aircraft arrived with 45 Italians and a few days later another arrived with 48 passengers. Both planes immediately left for Italy to return again with further migrants. A third plane last week brought 45 Cyprians” (assumed to be C-46s)
South Eastern aircraft:
Douglas C-47B PI-C233 (identity unknown) 73
48 Operated on migrant runs to Australia
Hudson Mk. 1 VH-ASV (c/n 1881 ex RAAF A16-30) 27,66
13.4.48 Purchased by F. J. Grigware from H.W.G.Penny/ Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney
22.5.48 Departed Darwin for Rome, pilot A. J. Hurst
9.48 tailwheel collapsed Rangoon. Grigware in jail in Burma
(to XY-ACD Burma Air Traders .49, later to Burmese Air Force)
DH.86B G-ADYH Denebola (c/n 2344)
4.48 Purchased by F. J. Grigware from H.W.G.Penny/Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney
19.5.48 Departed Singapore reportedly bound for England for CofA renewal. Did not reach UK.
48 Based in Burma and Malaya, operating for Indonesian rebels.
19.12.48 captured by Dutch paratroops at Maguwo, Java: operational still named Denebola
(Later broken up at Bandoeng and its Gipsy Six engines later used on a locally designed aircraft built at Bandoeng.) 44, 59
A glimpse of DC-3 PI-C233 can be seen behind this anonymous Curtiss C-46 at Sydney during 1948. John Hopton Collection* SAIDE EGYPTE, CAIRO, EGYPT
Services Aerienes Internationaux d’Egypte, Cairo.
This airline was founded in February 1948 as a partnership between estabished Egyptian airline Misr Airwork with Contieri Aero Navali and manufacturer SIAI-Marchetti, to operate services to Mediterranean and Arab countries. The airline was privately owned, with 45% shareholding by Fiat and rest shared between the Egyptian Misr Bank and King Farouk's family. 87, 136
SAIDE operated an eclectic fleet of Fiat G.212 trimotors and four-engined Savoia-Marchetti SM.95s, commencing with passenger services on the North African littoral route from Cairo to Tunis via Benghazi and Tripoli. Charters for The Hadj were also flown each year, carrying pilgrims to Mecca. Later scheduled services from Cairo to Athens, Rome, Paris, Milan were flown. During 1949 sIx Curtiss C-46 Commandos were obtained direct from USAF stocks. 18, 87
SAIDE Egypte flew its SM.95Cs and Fiat G.212s on migrant charters from Mediterranean countries to Australia. The SM.95C carried 38 passengers and was of mixed construction, wings being wooden three spar structures with plywood skinning, and fuselage welded steel tube framework, with light aloy skinning for nose, underside and a rear section, ther fuselage sides and upper surfaces being ply and fabric covered.
The Fiat G.212 Monterosa trimotors carried 34 passengers. Both types in SAIDE service were powered by P&W R-1830-S1C3G Twin Wasp radials, as used by most DC-3s, which reduced engine maintenance concerns when so far from home on the Australian run. 20
Known visits to Darwin and Sydney by SAIDE Egypte are listed in the Migrant Aircraft Movements below.
After King Farouk was deposed in 1952, SAIDE was nationalised and services reduced until it ceased operations in April 1953. The airline went into liquidation on 5 December 1953. Its surviving Fiat G.212s were taken over by the Egyptian Air Force, and at least one G.212, painted all white, was used to repatriate Egyptian Prisoners-of-War from Israel during 1956. 136
SAIDE Egypte Savoia-Marchetti SM.95C SU-AFC at Darwin in January 1949, with the landmark water tower behind.SAIDE Egypte fleet
The Captain is at the top of the steps with a group of TAA ground staff on the tarmac. Photo by Phil McCulloch
SAIDE Egypte Fiat G212 SU-AFE flew migrants to Australia during 1949. Ed Coates Collection
Fiat G. 212 Monterosa:
SU-AFX (c/n 7), SU-AFY (3), SU-AFE (8), SU-AFF (9)
SU-AFZ (c/n 17), SU-AGC (20), SU-AGD (13), SU-AFC (15), SU-AFD (16)
Curtiss C-46 Commando:
SU-AFP, SU-AFS, SU-AFT, SU-AFU, SU-AFV, SU-AFW
* NICARAGUAN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES
William G. Spillman was an American who owned Curtiss C-46D AN-ADD and was captain of this Commando on at least four migrant runs into Sydney during 1948. Spillman was also in command of C-46 N1648M of Skyways International on two migrant runs to Sydney late that year, so appears Spillman operated his own Nicaraguan registered aircraft on a cross-charter arrangement with Skyways.
Doug Fawcett, in 1948 Chief Engineer of Butler Air Transport, Mascot, wrote:
“After two years as chief engineer I was feeling a little restless when a Nicaraguan pilot came into the workshop and asked if I could repair his Curtiss C-46. I spoke to Arthur (Butler), who said he did not want anything to do with itinerant aeroplanes, but if I wanted to assist this gentleman after hours he would not mind. This marked the beginning of my personal business life in aviation. I gathered around me a few good mechanics, repaired the aeroplane to the pilot’s satisfaction and was paid accordingly.” 10
Curtiss C-46D AN-ADD (c/n 33452 ex 44-78056) 54
C-46 AN-ADD at Kemajoran Airport, Batavia/Djakarta 1948. Photo by Hugo Hooftman
30.1.47 Reconstructional Finance Corp, Bush Field, Georgia ex USAAF for disposal
48 CX-AKB not taken up
48/49 AN-ADD registered to William G. Spillman.
(Reappeared 1957 as AN-ADD with LANICA, Nicaragua)
INDIVIDUAL FLIGHTS DESCRIBEDAlthough the majority of the migrant flights were relatively uneventful given flying standards of the day, the following accounts give an insight into passenger experiences and problems faced by aircrew so far from home with no back-up operational organization.
1. Stephen Rose was an 8 year old passenger on board Intercontinental Air Tours' Lockheed Lodestar G-AGBU on its first trip to Australia in December 1947. Dates are confirmed from his passport stamps: 133
"My mother was widowed in 1943 when my father died from the results of being gassed during WW1. She decided there was no future in staying in the UK – the options were to migrate to Canada – too cold; South Africa – trouble was already brewing there; or Australia. Unfortunately, in 1947 there was an 18 month waiting list to get any sort of passage to Australia, whether by sea or by air. About mid 1947 she saw an advertisement offering air passage to Australia for £350 per person. All we had to do was pay up, get the necessary vaccinations, and have all the necessary clothes and possessions in a suitcase not exceeding a weight limit of 45 pounds.
The first departure was delayed when the plane was damaged striking a hangar door. So a few weeks later we had to be at the aerodrome for an early morning departure on 12th December 1947. We did not depart until about 14.00 – the plane did not have the oxygen bottles for flying over the Alps so were limited to 16,000 feet. There were four crew, Captain Penny, a co-pilot, a radio/engineer and an air hostess Captain Penny’s wife . There were 14 passengers including two children, myself, 8 years old, and Pat who was about 7. The rest were thirtyish to middle aged, mostly couples. There were only 12 fixed seats and two extras that were not bolted down – for us kids. (Not that it made much difference as I was most of the time up in the cockpit with the crew.) Due to our late start and lack of oxygen, we flew to Toulouse for the first night. This was my first experience of ersatz coffee – served French style in cups like soup bowls! Next stop was Rome (13/12). The crew earned a little extra fuel money that afternoon by flying refugees. The next day the aircraft smelled of spring onions. In the UK we were still on rations so many of the passengers ate too much of the abundant food at the hotel and were very airsick the next day.
The next leg was to Athens (14/12) where the airport was under armed guard due to the civil war. The next day was to Nicosia, Cyprus (15-16/12) where we stayed two nights while the plane was used to ferry refugees. It was a very noisy place as every motorist drove with a hand on the horn! From here we flew to Habbaniya in Iraq (17/12) – a mud-brick fort out in the desert. The next day we must have stayed somewhere in Iran – I have a feeling it was Teheran (18/12). From here we flew either to Delhi and got sent to Karachi or the other way around. Between the time we left the UK and arrived there, self-government had taken effect and cholera had broken out and we would have had to be quarantined hence being sent on to the other place. Here we had to stay in the transit area overnight (19/12).
The next stop was Rangoon (20/12). We were supposed to go to Singapore but that was closed due to the wide-spread cholera epidemic, so we must have stayed somewhere in Malaya or Sumartra (21/12). The next day we refuelled at Batavia (now Jakarta) again an airport under armed guard as the Dutch were fighting the the rebels. We overnighted in Bali (22/12) where the airstrip was on a plain surrounded by paddy fields. The hotel was colonial Dutch and each bungalow was linked by a covered walkway. We travelled from the strip to the hotel by military jeep.
Then came the long sea crossing to Darwin which is relatively flat so not readily visible in the haze until you were almost there. Here we landed at the old aerodrome, which is now Ross Smith Avenue. The two curved roof hangars are still at Parap and one of these was used by the health inspector. We stayed at the old Hotel Darwin (23/12) and travelled in an ancient taxi whose sides opened up whenever the vehicle hit a pothole. We refuelled at Cloncurry where we had to circle the strip to attract the attention of the agent. We overnighted in Charleville on Christmas Eve (24/12). On Christmas Day (25/12) we departed for Sydney at about midday. In Sydney we stayed at a hotel in Rose Bay for a few days before heading for South Australia. While in Sydney the film, ‘The Overlanders’, had its premiere. It was funny to see the women wearing furs to the premiere, in the Christmas heat. Also there were cars with gas bags on their roofs for gas producers and of course there were the trams."
2. Bill Brown, who was on board as flight engineer, gives a first-hand account of a January 1948 Lockheed Lodestar migrant flight.
It was an Intercontinental Air Tours charter using the Godden Air Transport Lodestar VH-BFZ under the command of ICAT Captain
Bert “Moonlight” Starkey, from Sydney to Rome to collect 10 Cabrini nuns migrating to Melbourne. Although these recollections are quite matter-of-fact, it highlights how these itinerant charters were flown in barely airworthy aircraft without any operational support and independent of official scrutiny. That they continued without serious accident is a testament to the fact that virtually all pilots, engineers and navigators were mostly recently demobbed wartime military aircrew:
“On this flight to Rome, we were to pick up Catholic nuns coming to Australia. The captain was Bert Starkey, copilot Hugh Hamilton,
radio operator Geoff Taylor and myself as flight engineer. The first stop outbound was Charleville, where we punctured our tail wheel tube on landing. I changed this with our spare. We also carried a spare main tyre and tube plus my own fairly comprehensive box of tools. We stayed overnight at Harry Corone’s hotel and I remember it was very hot. At about one o’clock in the morning I was awakened by a man enquiring as to whether I was one of the Lodestar’s crew….. he said be sure to let the captain know that he would be joining the aircraft as a passenger the next morning.
The next morning our new passenger arrived accompanied by a female companion. Two elderly Italian men were the other passengers, both of whom wanted to return to their homeland. The flight to Darwin was uneventful. As we were about to leave for Timor, Titus Oates, who was also flying to Rome in a Lockheed Lodestar, asked me to adjust the regulators on his generators. I did this and we flew to Timor, then to Surabaya, where we stayed overnight. On takeoff the next day one of the two hydraulic pump drive shafts broke, so we returned to the airport, where I removed the pump and shaft.
As it happened there was a contingent of Dutch marines in residence, one of whom I knew from the war. His name was Michael - he was the resident technical officer for the Dutch Air Force at Clyde Engineering in Sydney when we were overhauling Dutch B-25 bombers. He had my pump fixed in four hours.
The next day we flew to Singapore .... (then Penang, Rangoon)... We then left for Calcutta arriving there at nine thirty at night. The next morning I went out to the airport earlier than the others to give the aircraft a thorough check before going on. While there, Titus Oates arrived and asked me to adjust his automatic pilot. He was also having trouble with his automatic direction finder, so I pulled the autopilot regulator out and found that someone had installed it back to front. When I got back to Grand Hotel, Bert Starkey advised me that we would not be leaving for two days. In repayment for the work I had done on his aircraft, Titus invited me to go with him to a nightclub.
The day before our Calcutta departure we went by private bus to the airport. The driver took the bus down to what appeared to be a low-dive area where he stopped outside a doorway and ten men, our new passengers, emerged. All were quite large and one in particular seemed to weigh about 300 pounds. He just fitted in the aircraft door and when he was on board I had to remove one of the armrests from a chair to get him a seat. After taking off, Bert called me up to the cockpit and asked me to quickly get some of the heavy men up front as he was having trouble getting the nose down. This took some time, but we eventually had the load distributed to his satisfaction and he levelled off at 9000 feet.
Later we were getting low on petrol and I noticed a town on the right, so I suggested to Bert that we land there. ‘No way’, he said. ‘That’s New Delhi, if we go in there they will kill everyone on board including us. The passengers we took on at Calcutta are refugees and must be landed at Lahore.’ After some rapid calculations it was decided that we could just make Lahore, and we did, arriving there late afternoon.
We left Lahore the next day for Karachi. On arrival four of the Sikh passengers who went into town were attacked by the townpeople, who came off second best. After refuelling, our passengers were loaded on board and I was very careful where they all sat. Bahrein was our next stop where we stayed at the RAF base. We had off loaded our passengers, the last of them going to Bahrein, and we were now just the crew, so we sat and drank in the RAF mess and bedded down in their quarters.
(Continued via Lydda, Nicosia, Athens to Rome: radio aerials iced up and they lost radio contact)
“Bert carried on until he judged he should be over Rome, so he let down through a break in the clouds. Just then the radio compass handle seized and he could not get a fix on the airport. At the time he was over the sea....so he circled for some time. Because of his predicament he asked me to get the life jackets ready. Bert flew into a small valley, which he recognised, as he had been there before. Suddenly he saw a blue flash from the arcing of the tram poles as they passed over joins. Bert knew the trams were near the airport. The aircraft had been in the air for six and half hours and he landed straight ahead, no circuit.
On the day of departure, the nuns we had contracted to fly to Australia were surrounded by about 100 friends. After takeoff I realised I did not have a seat, so I sat on the floor and leant against the spar which ran through the cabin about 18 inches high and one seat distance behind the cockpit door. Sometimes I would doze off. Upon waking I found that the nuns had taken off their shawls and covered me over - a very thoughtful act.
(At the nuns’ request, Bill built a makeshift pulpit, which fitted over the wing spar inside the cabin, using wood purchased in Athens).
“Before departing for Nicosia next morning I waited until the nuns were seated and I then installed the pulpit. They were not prone to excitement, but their eyes lit up. The Mother Superior embraced me, then immediately stood behind it and went through a ceremony which I did not understand, because it was all in Latin. Bert opened the cockpit door during the ceremony but closed it quickly when he saw what was happening. Mother Superior only took about five minutes to say her piece, then I stowed the pulpit in its position and we took off. The ceremony was repeated after each landing and before each takeoff for the rest of the trip.
We pushed on to Baghdad where, arriving at night, we found that only half the runway lights were on. We could not get the tower on the radio. Bert made his approach. As he was about to land, the tower came on the air and told him to circle the airfield while they fixed the runway lights. This was quickly done and Bert made a perfect landing and parked at the terminal. Bert, Hugh Hamilton and Geoff Taylor left the cockpit quickly. I installed the pulpit, then left the nuns for a few minutes before helping them to disembark. We left Baghdad the next morning for Bahrein, where we refuelled and flew on to Karachi and stayed at the RAF station.
(Then via Calcutta (night stop), Rangoon, Penang (night stop), Surabaya (night stop), Timor, Darwin.) “The next day we headed for Charleville, arriving quite late. We stayed overnight and left the next morning for Sydney. The nuns were to go on to Melbourne. Bert Starkey came over to me and asked if I would go with them. I said that I had had enough, so I said goodbye to the nuns and they took off for Melbourne.” 10
Warren Penny, Managing Director of ICAT sacked Captain Starkey on his return to Australia from the above flight and Starkey took legal action against Penny for alleged moneys owed. Penny adds to the above account:
“I was in Sydney when they arrived back, and the Mother Superior aboard told me the story. She said when Starkey arrived in Rome, they decided to call him ‘Father’ for the trip. Starkey and some of the crew got drunk almost every night stop on the way back and the Sisters, very early in the piece ceased calling him ‘Father’. He was, needless to say, fired after arrival." 58
However a charitable slant was put on the reporting of the flight. The 29 January 1948 edition of the Catholic newspaper “The Advocate” ran a feature story on the nuns’ flight from Rome:
“Cabrini Nuns Arrive Safely in Flying Convent
When a privately chartered Lockheeed Lodestar plane, carrying ten Cabrini nuns, touched down at 6.02 pm at Essendon Airport on Saturday it was probably the first time in the history of the church that an entire community of Catholic nursing Sisters had travelled half way around the world to found a convent. The plane was piloted by Wing Commander F. Starkie (sic) and the Sisters were enthusiastic in their praise, appreciation and gratitude for his kindness and solicitude for their safety and comfort throughout the long journey. “He looked after us like a father”said one of the Sisters.” 99
3. The final ICAT Hudson charter in VH-ASV suffered a series of misadventures, being impounded at Singapore on 30 January 1948 on the outbound flight to Rome, delays due engine troubles, and culminating in a lengthy delay at Rangoon on the return with migrants.
Sydney Morning Herald Monday 15 March 1948:
Singapore, March 14 (AAP-Reuter)
"An Australian airliner is due in Sydney from Athens on Tuesday after a charter flight which has been a chapter of accidents and delays. The airliner, which belongs to Intercontinental Air Tours, of Sydney, is bringing nine Greek migrants to Australia. Members of the crew, when the plane called here yesterday, said the plane had spent more than 6 weeks on a return flight from Sydney to Athens: the flight should have taken only 20 days. Latest hold-up was a delay of 15 days at Rangoon, where no arrangements had been made to meet routine expenses. While the crew waited for funds to arrive from Australia to pay for petrol and hotel expenses they undertook two charter flights - much to the consternation of their passengers, who feared they were being deserted.
The navigator of the plane, Barcroft Mathers, of Mosman, is particularly worried by the delay. He was due to be married in Sydney on February 16, and the wedding had to be postponed. Also he was due to join British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines on February 26 after his honeymoon. He criticised the financial arrangements for the flight and said the plane had met nothing but trouble since leaving Sydney.
It was delayed twice because of engine trouble, once because its papers were not in order, and three times because the crew had no money to meet expenses. In addition all the crew lost all their spare clothing. The passengers paid about £310 each for the trip.
Other members of the crew are Jack Hurst, pilot, formerly of the RAF, Bill Shirley, radio officer, of Bellevue Hill, and Graham Clayton, engineer, of Bondi.”
Penny adds to the story of this last ICAT flight, blaming much of the Rangoon delay on DCA, who insisted on handling all cables and clearances for the Australian charter aircraft while overseas:
“Normally the captain had some £1,500 in various currencies for expenses on each trip. The arrangement was that whatever was left over could be divided amongst the crew. This was designed to stop them fiddling the money. On the way back with Hurst as Captain, they ran out of money in Rangoon. I received a belated cable through DCA giving the full story some days after they had landed. I tore around like a lunatic and eventually got the money together. When the Hudson did finally arrive in Darwin, an undercarriage strut let go while taxiing and some minor damage was done to the wing. I got Stan Godden's Lodestar and flew up to Darwin with Peter Thurlow as radio officer. I brought the whole team back with me, including the passengers, except Mathers who went back to Sydney by scheduled airline.” 58
4. Another first-hand account of migrant runs, from Tom Watson, then chief engineer for Guinea Air Traders
Two DC-3s G-AGHN and G-AKNB had been purchased by Guinea Air Traders at Lae, New Guinea via aircraft brokers W. S. Shackleton Ltd, London. Both retained their British registrations, which GAT hoped would allow them to avoid many of the DCA restrictions placed on Australian registered aircraft making migrant charter flights. 116
"Guinea Air Traders decided to purchase two more DC-3s in the United Kingdom. Our first DC-3 VH-GAT was a freighter with a few military seats. Lionel Van Praag, three times champion dirt track motorcycle rider, ex-RAAF where he was awarded the George Cross for bravery during the war, and a really tough diamond, was employed to collect and fly the first DC-3 to Australia with a load of migrants.
I went to London with Lionel and took delivery of the aircraft* and as we were without any British licence qualifications to fly the aircraft this caused quite a problem which we finally overcame. We flew the aircraft back without much drama."
* G-AGHN which arrived Sydney 1 September 1948 from Rome with 28 migrants
Two weeks later with a pilot from New Guinea, let's call him Joe, we returned to the UK to collect the second aircraft*. Joe was an Avro Anson pilot with no experience on DC-3s and was endorsed after only a one hour dual flight from Madang to Lae. When we arrived at Prestwick in Scotland, we discovered that the money for the aircraft had not arrived. The company was always short of money and undercapitalised. The upshot was that we were stranded in Scotland for two months before the funds came in.
* G-AKNB which arrived Sydney 8 November 1948 from Rome with 30 migrants
When we finally took delivery, Joe told me that he did not know how to start the DC-3. I had many hours of DC-3 flying but was not endorsed to fly as pilot in command. Eventually we took it for a test flight and then off we went, first stop Heathrow. Between Prestwick and London we entered a snowstorm resulting in the propellers icing up and vibrating. After activating alcohol propeller deicing, chunks of ice flew off the propellers striking the fuselage like a bomb. We then got lost and flew over a RAF station resulting in our being chased by a fighter. Naturally enough, the radios were not working. They rarely did. Eventually we ended up over the Isle of Wight, 65 miles south west of London. After finding London, we couldn't find Heathrow so followed a road to the west and as we had no radio, landed without permission. When Air Traffic Control was told we were from New Guinea that seemed to explain everything. It was suggested that we get back to New Guinea as fast as we could, having endangered all air traffic at London.
At midnight we took off for Rome to load 30 migrant passengers. After reaching 10,000 feet through cloud, one engine started to misfire. The decision was taken to return and purely by accident we came out of the cloud right over the runway. I spent the rest of the night pulling everything apart trying to find the cause of the problem. At daybreak we took off again towards Rome. After a storm over the Mediterranean, Joe got lost and we ended up in Marseilles. We were then arrested by the French police and taken in for questioning and ultimately released after receiving a lecture on safety and, as they put it, "good manners". The next morning we left for Rome and made it without great incident.
That night we took off for Athens with our 30 passengers. On the way to Athens an engine fire warning light and bell came on. As there was no sign of fire I decided to stop the noise by pulling the circuit breakers on the light and the bell. On approach to Athens the wheels wouldn't come down due to a leak in the hydraulic system. The reservoir was empty. In our spares I had a can of oil and kept pouring it in until the wheels came down. In Athens, no one would assist me in finding the leak. which entailed removing a panel on the side of the fuselage. The next stop was Nicosia in Cyprus. We arrived when it was almost dark. On the way our automatic pilot packed it in and Joe would not proceed further without it. I pulled it to pieces on the aircraft floor, finishing at 1am, to be ready at 4am to prepare for takeoff.
Next stop Baghdad, no problems. Then we left for Sharjah. A fight then started in the cabin mid flight between some passengers. Being a jack-of-all-trades, I had to stop the fight. On landing Sharjah we had to taxi into an armed barbed wire compound as the locals were shooting at everything and everyone. We then refuelled and took off for Karachi just as darkness fell. Once we reached 9000 feet, Joe said he was going to have a sleep on the bunk, telling me to change course twice by 5 degrees, leaving it to me. Frankly I think it was only good luck that the lights of Karachi appeared on the horizon. Next stop was Allahabad in central India, arriving at noon. Armed Indian soldiers escorted us out of the aircraft, putting our passengers in a shed. It was very hot. Refuelling services consisted of my hand-pumping 500 gallons from 44 gallon drums. I might add that I had no sleep over all this period. Next stop Calcutta. The inevitable happened, we got lost over a mountain range. Trying to avoid cloud we got into a valley underneath the cloud base. We saw a wall of cloud at the end of the valley, did a steep 180 degree turn and luckily found a gap between two hills and went through it. In those days aircraft used to trail HF radio aerials out to try to communicate. Well we did, until that moment, as we were so low that our aerial got caught in a tree and got ripped out of the aircraft.
We landed in Calcutta, then flew on via Rangoon, Bangkok, Singapore, Batavia, Dili, Darwin and Cloncurry. On the way to Sydney we got lost again, headed for the coast which we reached at Coffs Harbour. The cloud was getting lower and lower and by this stage we were over the sea. We could not go any lower and were heading into a large black thundercloud. I decided this was it and took my shoes off expecting to go into the sea. Somehow we got through the back cloud and blinding rain to come out over Coffs Harbour Airport and landed. The next morning we left for Sydney. Halfway there a fire broke out in the cockpit, filling it with smoke. The fire was put out and we landed in Sydney"
RECORDED MIGRANT FLIGHT MOVEMENTS 1947-1949
1. SYDNEY-KINGSFORD SMITH AIRPORT, MASCOT:
These listings of aircraft movements are based mainly on Customs records and Department of Civil Aviation daily reports in memos or cables to Head Office. They do not provide a complete record of the period as there are many months missing from the files held by National Archives of Australia. 19
Times are local, based on the 24 hour clock, dates Day/Month/Year.
ANA Australian National Airways, Melbourne
EAT European Air Transport, Sydney
GAT Guinea Air Traders, Lae
ICAT Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney
NHAW New Holland Airways, Sydney
|2. DARWIN AIRPORT, NORTHERN TERRITORY (Designated Australian Customs Entry Airport)|
THE BURMA CONNECTION
Charles Eather was an Australian pilot with Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong in 1948 when the airline commenced extensive charter flying for the Burmese Government, basing Avro Ansons and DC-3s at Rangoon. Charles flew extensively in Burma and later wrote of this period:
“A motley collection of air charter companies settled in Rangoon to vie for the Burmese Government’s rupees. Some did their best to fulfill every obligation to their charterers; others were strictly fly-by-night adventurers whose interest went no further than the lining of their pockets. Some involved themselves in gold and dope running, bringing no credit to our profession.
Many of these odious operators made little attempt to cover their movements; one of the most blatant, practically advertised on his letterhead that he was the designated agent for the insurgent movement in the Dutch East Indies, and that he was using Mingaladon Airport at Rangoon as a staging post for its gun running. This did little to soften the hearts of the harassed Dutch to the equally harassed Burmese.” 33
Among the “fly-by-night adventurers” referred to in this account was American Francis James Grigware who was previously involved in the Australian migrant trade before moving his base to Burma. He had been a principal of South Eastern, operator of Filipino registered Douglas DC-3 PI-C233 on migrant runs from Europe to Sydney.
During February 1948 Warren Penny of Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney was forced to pull out of the migrant charters and did a deal with Frank Grigware and his partners to transfer ownership of ICAT Hudson VH-ASV and DH.86 G-ADYH in return for their collecting 30 migrants in Rome booked with ICAT, using their South Eastern C-47 PI-C233. 58
A DCA report dated 8 March 1948 on the Australian migrant charter operators makes the following reference in its summary of Intercontinental Air Tours:
“However it appeared to me some time ago that they had over-invested their money in aircraft and left little ready cash with which to operate. The DH.86B is now being sold to a Mr. M. Khara, a hardware merchant of Rangoon, the intention being to raise some ready cash. Mr. Khara will be using this aircraft between Rangoon, Akyab and Chittagong.” 124
The DC-3 PI-C233 arrived at Mascot on 21 April 1948 from Rome, under command of Captain Tucker with 20 passengers and 5 crew. Most of the passengers were Penny’s outstanding Italian migrants. The remainder were collected by the Hudson VH-ASV, flown by Captain Jack Hurst who had left ICAT to join Grigware.
While South Eastern continued on the Australian migrant trade with their DC-3 Frank Grigware based the Hudson and DH.86 in Burma, flying clandestine operations in support of the Indonesian independence freedom fighters led by Dr. Sukarno. They were fighting a bitter war of harassment against the Dutch military forces in nearby Netherlands East Indies, which led to the Netherlands withdrawal and the declaration of the independent nation of Indonesia in December 1949. There is also a strong probability that Grigware was flying arms and supplies to the Karen rebels in the south of Burma who were engaged in brutal fighting for their independence from the central Government in Rangoon.
In September 1948 the Burmese DCA cabled the Australian DCA requesting ownership status of Hudson VH-ASV which was at that time grounded at Rangoon with a collapsed tail wheel and left parked in open. They had reports that it was about to be sold in Indonesia and advised that Francis Grigware was being held by Burmese authorities. 59
In November 1948 a further report from Burmese DCA stated “VH-ASV is grounded in Rangoon at request of Burmese police due to illegal landings at Mergui in southern Burma. Owner F. Grigware has abandoned the aircraft. Grigware has been associated with persons dealing with the disposals of materials etc to Indonesia.” 59
In May 1949 the Burmese DCA reported that VH-ASV had been purchased by a partnership of two pilots and an engineer all based in Burma. They have registered the name Burma Air Traders Ltd, formed for the purpose of getting the aircraft airworthy. The following month they applied to register the Hudson in Burma but were refused by Burmese DCA “for certain reasons”. The problems must have been resolved because it did come on to the Burmese Civil Register later that year as XY-ACD owned by Burma Air Traders Ltd.
In November 1949 two overhaulled propellers for the Hudson were to be shipped from Sydney to to Burma Air Traders but the deal was not completed. Nothing further is known of XY-ACD’s activities, if any. It was subsequently transferred to Burmese Air Force. 27, 59
Meanwhile in May 1948 Frank Grigware’s DH.86 G-ADYH had departed Singapore reportedly bound for England for CofA renewal. However when it failed to reach the UK, the British Ministry of Civil Aviation cabled DCA “We cannot help having suspicions that the aircraft may have altered course to the Middle East.” They were probably thinking it was another illegal sale to the Israeli Air Force, however it was in fact being flown on charter to the Indonesian independence forces.
By September 1948 G-ADYH was reported unservicable at Penang, Malaya while operating for the Indonesian rebels. 59
Warren Penny adds some details on the D.H.86’s subsequent activities:
“I had on my staff a copilot named Donati. When the DH.86 went to its new owners, Donati flew it to Singapore and other places for them, until it was captured by the Dutch during the Indonesian war. Years later, whilst I was working in Cyrpus, I got a message to say that one of Skyways’ Yorks* carrying troops from England to Fayid in the Canal Zone had hit the ground with its wingtip whilst in the circuit at Fayid during a night landing. The pilot was Captain Donati. He was later, after the enquiry, demoted to copilot and sent to Germany for more experience before being made captain again.” 58, 64
* 26.6.54 Avro York Mk.1 G-AGNY owned by Skyways of London painted with RAF trooping serial WW512
G-ADYH was captured by Dutch forces in Java on 19 December 1948. The event is described by Indonesian aviation historian Hugo Hooftman:
“Dutch forces attacked the airfield of Maguwo, near Djokjakarta, then in the hands of the Indonesian Republicans. Among the aircraft captured by the Dutch was D.H.86B G-ADYH “Denebola”, a former aircraft of Imperial Airways. A few days later I was able to inspect “Denebola” at Bandung and its name was still on the nose and it still carried the British registration. On the fuselage was painted “Intercontinental”. On the fin was the name “Skytravel Ltd”. I am afraid that this D.H.86 never flew away from Bandung as it was dismantled there.” 44
Other embryo Republic of Indonesia Air Force aircraft captured on the same day at Maguwo were Dakota RI-001, Avro Anson RI-004 and Catalina RI-006. There were strong Australian links with several of these aircraft and their pilots.
Nothing further is known of Mr.Grigware’s activities.
THE ISRAELI CONNECTION
Australian migrant charter aircraft sold to Israeli Air Force (Chel Ha’Avir, later IDFAF)
When the independent State of Israel was declared on 15 May 1948, a military fight for survivial with its neighbouring Arab countries began. Earlier in November 1947 the United Nations had split Palestine into two nations, one Arab and one Jewish. Among the steps taken in a desperate diplomatic effort to stop Arab aggression was a United Nations embargo on arms and military equipment to the Middle East. The original Israeli Air Force (Chel Ha’Avir) clandestinely purchased combat and transport aircraft from around the world by a variety of subterfuges to beat these embargos. Most were delivered by air to Israel. During 1948-49 aircraft were secretly purchased from USA (73), France (4), South Africa (9), Czechoslovakia (84), Germany (20), Great Britain (16), Australia (6) as well as 12 RAF Spitfires and Austers salvaged from dumps in Palestine and made airworthy.
When DCA imposed increasing restrictions on the Australian migrant charter operators during 1948, continued migrant runs were made uneconomic. These small charter operators had invested heavily in aircraft for this specific migrant market, which was being made unviable. The chance of resale within Australia was extremely limited, so when word spread that the Israel Government was prepared to pay good prices for both aircraft and pilots, it was an attractive option.
First stage in the Israeli Connection appears to be when Doug Fawcett who had established his maintenance operation Fawcett Aviation in Sydney became involved:
“The Jewish War of Independence was in full swing when I had a call from Danny Agronsky, a representative of the Israeli government. He asked me if we could meet regarding the dismantling of aircraft that were to be shipped to Israel. I made it my business to make as many enquiries as I could as to the legality of the work to be carried out. Having done this and satisfying myself that neither I nor my company could get into trouble if all we did was dismantle the aircraft, I decided to invite Danny to my house for dinner.
He told me that the aircraft to be dismantled were ex RAAF twin engined Beaufighters, which had been purchased from the Department of Supply (sic) and were to be shipped to Israel. We talked for some time. I was not worried about the job - the problem was that the aircraft were at Werribee Victoria*. After some haggling over the amount I would charge for the job, we eventually came to a mutual agreement. We discussed things such as hiring equipment, transport, accommodation and, as it was an extensive and expensive project, we drew up an agreement to cover these contingencies plus the payment of a deposit, and a progressive payment schedule.
The money for this project was to come from the Jewish community and when payment was due, I would be met by a person who had details of me and the car I was driving. On one occasion I was told to contact a man on the corner of Elizabeth and Park Street, who would be wearing a dark overcoat with a carnation in his lapel. I think the amount I was to collect was £4000.
We completed the job to everyone’s satisfaction and a contractor was employed to move the aircraft to a disused chicken farm in Ringwood, a suburb of Melbourne. That was the last I heard of them.
I had several social outings with Danny Agronsky when he occasionally talked about the war they were having with the Arabs. Danny was a journalist and on his return to Israel he covered the war for a newspaper. I was saddened to hear later that he lost a leg when he stepped on a land mine.” 10
* The disused RAAF airfield at Werribee had been the base of No.1 Central Recovery Depot, which handled the recovery and repair of aircraft, as well as converting wrecked airframes to components. 1CRD had a unit strength of 473 servicemen in 1945, but was disbanded the following year after the end of WWII. No.1 Aircraft Depot at nearby RAAF Laverton used Werribee from 1945 for storage of large numbers of surplus RAAF aircraft awaiting civil sale by Commonwealth Disposals Commission and Department of Aircraft Production. 138
|Two photographs taken at Werribee in 1949 by Fawcett Aviation mechanic Ray Smith during the dismantling of |
RAAF Beaufighters to be shipped to the Israeli Air Force. They did not reach Israel.
Mr. Ray Smith, an wartime RAAF airframe fitter was
employed by Fawcett Aviation in 1949 as an aircraft engineer. He
recalled that a total of 88 Beaufighters were involved, 44
were dismantled into about 7 major sections each, which were at first
taken by truck to an industrial site at Dynan Road, Footscray, inner
Melbourne where they were stored in the open. The remaining 44 were
broken up for spare parts. Most wore camouflage and retained RAAF
roundels but their serial numbers had been painted over. However
under the worldwide embargo on arms to Israel, the Australian
Government blocked the export of these Beaufighters and it assumed they
were subsequently scrapped in Melbourne. 137|
Chel Ha’Avir had earlier obtained six airworthy ex RAF Beaufighter
Mk.10s from England. These had been flown to Israel in July 1948 under
the nose of HM Customs using a dubious cover story that they were to
take part in a war movie. 122|
The State of Israel was formally established on 14 May 1948. The first Australian migrant charter aircraft sold to Israel was New Holland Airways’ Douglas DC-5 VH-ARD. This company's aircraft carrying Italian migrants to Australia often staged via Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport) while it was under British control but about to become Israel territory. Whether personal contacts were made is not known, but the DC-5 had came to the attention of the Israeli Air Force, as a makeshift bomber. They were desperate days. It has been reported that the same Danny Agronsky (his name also quoted as Danny Agron) who negotiated the RAAF Beaufighter plan, discussed the DC-5 with Greg Board. On 10 May 1948 the DC-5 departed Darwin for Rome ostensibly outbound to collect more Italian migrants. While overseas funds were exchanged and it was sold on 28 May 1948 to Martin A. Rybakoff, Central Corona Hotel, Catania, Sicily. Rybakoff was an American citizen acting as an agent for Service Airways Inc, a front company which acquired aircraft in USA and overseas for the Israeli Air Force. 132
DC-5 VH-ARD was delivered to Haifa Airport, Israel by early June 1948. Israeli Government papers reveal that on 2 June their first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion who was also Minister for Defence, instructed Treasury to disperse £12,000 (Israeli currency) in favour of Chel Ha'Avir for the "procurement of an aircraft that is presently at Haifa." The price was equivalent to 40,000 US Dollars, a high sum for the time, which gave Greg Board a handsome payment as well as commissions for the agents involved in the deal. A replacement airline DC-3, which was almost certainly part of the deal was immediately acquired. On 2 July 1948 New Holland Airways wrote to DCA stating that VH-ARD was unairworthy in Italy and requested approval to transport migrants to Australia in Douglas C-47 I-TROS purchased in Italy.
In Israeli service the DC-5 was flown from Haifa to Sde Dov airfield on the northern outskirts of Tel Aviv, home of the Tel Aviv Squadron which flew an assortment of light aircraft on liaison, spotter and transport duties. The unit also had operated DH.89 Rapides, Beech Bonanzas and Austers with electrically operated external bomb racks for harrassment bombing of Arab troop incursions. The initial plan was to fit external racks for heavier bombs to the DC-5 but this was not done because the aircraft was diverted to troop transport work. Still in June 1948 it was flown to Ramat David Air Base, east of Haifa where it joined 103 Squadron for transport duties alongside three C-47s. It was roughly painted in a dark camouflage with the name Yankee Pasha The Bagel Lancer on the nose. As well as flying supplies, 103 Squadron flew night bombing missions with its Douglas aircraft: 50 Kg bombs were simply rolled out the cabin doorway. A squadron report dated 17 September 1948 lists the DC-5 on strength and airworthy. 130
The undercarriage was damaged in October that year in a heavy landing at Ramat David. The Chel Ha'Avir Order of Battle dated
4 January 1949 listed the DC-5 as unserviceable. It was abandoned at Ramat David when 103 Squadron moved to Tel Nof early 1949. Meanwhile a deserted school on the boundary of Haifa Airport was taken over as the air force technical training centre, and a collection of grounded aircraft were gathered as instructional airframes. The DC-5 was moved on a large semi-trailer, and reassembled to stand on its own undercarriage. One of its Wright Cyclone engines was later replaced by a Rolls Royce Merlin for ground running. By 1954 it was moved to Tel Aviv International Airport where it was was used as an instructional airframe at Tel Aviv Aeronautical Technical School. It was struck-off Israeli military charge on 1 March 1954 and often reported as broken-up for scrap in 1955, however the DC-5 was last seen in November 1962 stored in the centre of Tel Aviv International Airport, basically complete less engines.
Holland Airways DC-5 VH-ARD at Tel Aviv in 1948 soon after arrival from
Ed Coates Collection|
| DC-5 VH-ARD in service with Israeli Airforce (Chel Ha’Avir) painted in |
camouflage with names "Yankee Pasha" and "The Bagel Lancer"
Godden’s Lodestar VH-BFZ was next to go. As early as March 1948 Godden
was negotiating its sale to an Israeli agent in Sydney. Warren
Penny recalls using BFZ that month:|
“I got the Lodestar from Stan Godden and flew up to Darwin.... Godden had arranged to sell his Lodestar to Israel and it went off soon after the Darwin flight.” 58
In August 1948 Godden completed the negotiations to sell VH-BFZ to the Israel Government, via a paper charter to Service Airways Inc, Rome, Italy for £A8000. A cable to DCA from Ministry of Civil Aviation Baghdad dated 15 December 1948 included the following:
“Another Australian Lockheed callsign VH-BFZ owned by Godden Air Transport passed through Bahrein 5.9.48. Mr. Godden was listed as a passenger and the pilot named Horlock. Crew freely discussed intention to sell aircraft in Rome and have since returned through Sharjah in an aircraft of Skyways International.” 32
Warren Penny’s brother C. Raymond Penny owned 3 ex RAAF Hudsons, of which only one received civil certification. A16-147 completed its civil CofA by Intercontinental Air Maintenance at Bankstown June 1948, fitted for 13 passengers and 3 crew. Raymond was a Director of real estate business Burke Naughton Pty Ltd, which had financed the certification of the Hudson with the aim of an overseas sale.
CofA was issued on 17 June 1948 and registered the same day as VH-BIH to Clifton Raymond Penny c/- Burke Naughton Pty Ltd, 66 King Street, Sydney. Three months later Raymond Penny wrote to DCA on 8 September 1948 advising that VH-BIH would be leaving Mascot “for a private overseas flight” on 16 September 1948, pilot would be Captain Gregory Board. 58, 124
|Hudson VH-BIH at Bankstown 1948 before departure for Israel. Note the operational bomb bay doors. Photo: Warren Penny|
After a series of test flights at Bankstown and Mascot during
September, Greg Board departed Mascot in VH-BIH on 2 October 1948 bound
for Rome where the aircraft would be handed over to Israeli agents. His
pilot log book records him leaving Darwin 9 October with stops of
Baghdad-Beirut-Nicosia-Athens, arriving Rome 6 November 1948. 184
Board took some time off then on 12 November hitched a ride on an American C-47 to Marseilles, France. VH-BIH was ferried to Israel the very same day he delivered it to Rome, based on the following cable sent to the Australia DCA by British Ministry for Civil Aviation office at Baghdad:
“Hudson VH-BIH passed through Bahrein for Baghdad and Nicosia on 3 November. Its documents named the owner as Burke Naughton of Sydney and the pilot as Captain G. R. Board. Latter also known from previous flights through Bahrein as Captain Penny. Registration letters painted on side of aircraft were about two inches high presumably to avoid identification except at close quarters. Cheque to B.P. Aviation Service for petrol at Jiwani and Bahrein not met when presented for payment.
On 6 November Bahrein received flight plan clearing the aircraft Nicosia to Bahrein direct and giving captain’s name as G. Braln.
Bahrein was unable to establish communication with aircraft and eventually took overdue action. Subsequently learning the aircraft diverted of own accord to Haifa Israel. It has not since passed through Bahrein control area.” 4
In February 1949 Hudson VH-BLB owned by Brian Thomas, Sydney departed Australia on a private flight which was actually a delivery flight to the Israeli Air Force. The flight was operated by Sam Jamieson, who took the aircraft out of the country on an alleged private flight in the name of Guinea Air Traders Ltd. When DCA later investigated the circumstances of the flight, their report stated that GAT pilot Lionel Van Praag had a close connection with VH-BLB, having sold it to Thomas. The report stated:
“Mr. Sam Jamieson, one of the persons connected with taking the aircraft out of Australia states that the aircraft was unserviceable at Ciampiano Airport in Rome as late as May 1949 with a failed motor. A replacement engine was obtained in England and fitted. The aircraft was testflown at Rome 29 May 1949 then left Rome for Palestine. The charter to Israel Government is a subterfuge to prevent awkward questions being asked on the sale of warlike materials to Israel Government. VH-BLB is owned by Mr. Thomas, but Mr. Sam Jamieson took aircraft out of the country on an alleged private flight in the name of Guinea Air Traders Ltd. Mr. John Jamieson, Managing Director of Guinea Air Traders denied that Sam Jamieson had any right to use the company name.” 34
Sydney Morning Herald 10 February 1949 reported:
“Melbourne, Wednesday: The Department of Civil Aviation recently asked for explanations about the failure of two Lockheed Hudson planes to return to Australia after permits to fly to Rome to bring out Italian migrants had been issued. The pilots have returned but only one, Mr. Ray Penny, of Potts Point, Sydney, has answered the department’s letter. Mr Penny said his machine developed engine trouble at Tel Aviv, Palestine on the outward journey, and he left it there.
It was stated that neither pilot had permission to sell his machine overseas. They were former RAAF bombers, and were bought through the Disposals Commission and converted to transport planes. Mr Penny said last night that he did not sell his aircraft overseas. He said the plane was in Tel Aviv, Palestine, awaiting a new engine. “The Civil Aviation Department knows the full facts of the position, because I have been communicating with them since I arrived home on December 22. If the Department can get me a new engine. I will bring the plane back to Sydney” he said.
On 13 February 1949 two Hudsons VH-BFQ and VH-BIA departed Mascot for Darwin on delivery flights to Israel. George Marcel, Sydney owner of ex European Air Transport Hudson VH-BFQ had sent a letter to DCA the previous November 13 requesting permission to “take his aircraft on a private business trip overseas.” On 29 November Reno Jorio, Sydney owner of ex EAT Hudson VH-BIA wrote to DCA using the identical wording on the same typewriter. VH-BIA was subsequently transferred to ex EAT director Nicholas Marcello on 19 January 1949 who wrote to DCA on that same day that he “will be taking the aircraft overseas soon”.
The following account refers to the delivery of two Hudsons to Israel by ex RAAF transport pilot J. L. D.“Wac” Whiteman. Despite its swash-buckling style, this summary of Whiteman’s recollections gives an insight in the politics along the route to Europe at the time of the migrant charters. It almost definitely describes the ferry flight of VH-BFQ and VH-BIA: 3
“Wac” was approached in 1949 by Stan Godden to pilot a Lockheed Hudson to an overseas destination. Doug Fawcett was also mixed up in the deal. They had bought 2 Lockheeds from the RAAF for £250 each. They had evidently contacted the authorities in Israel to sell them there for £9000 sterling each. Israel was at war with the Arabs at the time. The Jews could not buy any bombers legally from Australia. Godden and Fawcett got around this, as they owned New Holland Airways operating to Rome, flying refugees to Australia and convinced the authorities the Lockheeds were to be fitted out as passenger planes in Italy. Everything appeared to be perfectly legal.
Stan Godden and Doug Fawcett wouldn’t fly with Wac as their New Holland Airways DC-3 was flying a regular route to Rome piloted by Cec Owen. However they arranged to meet them in Bahrein. So Wac was to fly one of these old wartime Hudsons. He flew without a second pilot but had “Skeeter” Clayton with him as an engineer. The other pilot was a Pole called Wiza who held the Croix de Guerre. His second pilot was a Pommy bloke called Heath*. Both aircraft were in shocking condition. Wac’s starboard engine used to use about 6 gallons of oil an hour, so he had to start it up and keep the revs about 1200 because if he throttled back he would oil all the plugs up. They carried a 44 gallon drum of oil with a hand pump and it was Skeeter’s job to keep the oil up to engine.
They had to wait three days in Darwin for a clearance. They stayed at the Hotel Darwin and raised hell on the ground and in the air. Luckily the chief of DCA there turned out to be an old friend who overlooked their low flying during a test flight. Wac lost an engine as they were approaching Penang. There was no tower but the landing lights were on. Wiza was landing from the opposite direction and heard Wac’s radio in the nick of time and as Whiteman landed on one engine, Wiza managed to lift off over Wac and go around again. It was very difficult getting clearances from then on, as they only had log books and they didn’t have any visas in their passports. They landed at Chittagong refuelling there and then went on to Rangoon. They landed on the wrong airstrip there, the military one, but it was alright. They made them stay the night while they checked them out. They then had dinner in the Officers Mess with all the Sikhs. Some of them were with RAF during the war.
Next day the two aircraft took off to Calcutta where the airstrip was Dum Dum. At that time there were rebels at the end of the strip, and Wac and his mate Wiza had to use the taxiway to land. The rebels were firing at them as they came in. The two crews went into the bar and were sitting there having a drink, when two of the rebels rushed in with their tommy guns and opened up on everyone. So Wac and his mate hopped behind the bar, and opened a bottle of bourbon and sat there while they cleaned the place out, then they left.
They landed at Allahabad with the usual Indian officials’ attitude. Wac says “Feet up on the table. Sling your passports and log books on one side and he says “Come back after lunch and I’ll see if I can find time to look at them. They couldn’t care bloody less.” It was late afternoon by the time they got cleared and then had to fly all night. They landed at a Sharjah in the middle of the desert outside a fort. The fort was just like the one in Beau Geste with soldiers manning the turrets looking like the French Foreign Legion. They parked the two planes outside and were taken through the huge fortress gates into the courtyard. They dined there and spent the night. After being refuelled from 44 gallon drums the next morning they took off for Bahrein, over the Arabian Sea.
It was coral strip at Bahrein. The RAF was there at the time and they had their mess on the edge of the strip, so Wac and Wiza stayed there. It was just about sunset when they arrived and they walked into the mess dying for a cold beer. They had just ordered a couple of cold Carlsburgs when the wailing started and before they were served the barman put down his prayer mat, knelt down and prayed to Allah for about 10 minutes, as Wac says, “while we were dying of bloody thirst”.
The DC-3 arrived with Cec Owen, Stan Godden and Doug Fawcett. They were on a good “cop”. Wac says he only got paid £50 a week for all the risk he took. They were making £18,000 while Wiza and Wac were doing all the hard work and taking all the blame.
They were off the next day for Baghdad. Wac says “we arrived there to all the usual bullshit over clearances. There were armed guard everywhere you went. As the Arabs had an idea these planes were going to the Jews they put special security men on our tail. Everywhere we went we had a security bloke shadowing us. We were at the Grand Hotel in Baghdad, Cec Owen, Wiza and myself, and one security man. So we went outside, Ces went one way and I went another and Wiza stayed put and the poor chap didn’t know what to do. When Ces and I arrived back - no security guard.
“They kept us there three days while they checked all the clearances for the planes and ourselves. While we were waiting there, we were approached to fly the pilgrims up to Mecca. It wasn’t far away so we decided we would do it for so many rupees per head. We had no seats in the planes, they were just wartime bombers. We got a local bloke to put straw on the floor so they wouldn’t make a mess if they were sick. We made a few quid out of it by doing two trips to Mecca. We came across Warren Penny doing one trip, complete with a flowing beard**. The story being that the Shell Company had refused him credit for his petrol, so grew the beard and changed his name.” 3
* Pilot Heath was almost certainly actually Captain A. J. Hurst ex ICAT.
** This reference to Warren Penny still flying in the Middle East in early 1949, close to a year after ICAT abandoned migrant runs is at variance with Penny’s own account of the demise of ICAT and his flying in 1948/49 being confined to part-time for Marshall Airways at Bankstown. There was an apocryphal story during the migrant flights era, of Penny reportedly passing himself off as Greg Board (of New Holland Airways). Asked about this in 1985, Warren Penny said that it was in fact Greg Board with a beard and signing flight plans, customs documents using the name Warren Penny! This seems to be confirmed by a comment in a cable from Bahrein dated 15 December 1948 concerning Hudson VH-BIH “Its documents named the pilot as Captain G. R. Board. Latter also known from previous flights through Bahrein as Captain Penny.” Warren Penny in later years denied that it was him, stating emphatically that he had never grown a beard and he always paid for his petrol. 4, 97
James Whiteman continues, describing the last stage of the Hudson delivery flight to Israel:
“You have to fly over mountains before reaching the Mediterranean. These mountains were about 6000 feet and with the engines burning so much oil, I was flat out getting up that high, but we crossed over at last and saw the clear blue Mediterranean ahead - so I dived down and did a beautiful slow roll. All dust blew up inside the plane, papers went in every direction. We went in and landed at Nicosia. There was a war on there with the rebels. The RAF was there and the red coats. We were in Nicosia for about three days waiting for a clearance which we got to Rome, by saying the aircraft were to be refitted for passenger work. We decided we would take off and after about 50 miles we would re-set our course for Israel, which was at a 90 degree angle. I had to leave Skeeter in Nicosia to be picked up by the Douglas on its way through from Rome. Anyway I took off first by myself after filling the engines with oil. Wiza was behind me. He had left Heath (sic) behind also. After 50 miles, I changed course and headed for Lydda.
After about an hour, we were approached by Kittyhawks with Israel markings. They formated on us and escorted us in to Lyddia airstrip where we landed on the concrete strip. We were greeted by the Chief of the Air Force who arrived at the aircraft accompanied by his military aids in a jeep. We were introduced all around and driven to the Officers Club, which was on the waterfront at Tel Aviv. "
Whiteman and Wiza were invited to stay on as instructors, and met American and Canadian pilots who had delivered aircraft and were flying with the Israel military (including legends such as “Earthquake McGoon” and “Screwball Burling” who went on to fly for the CIA in Indo China where both were killed). However, a brawl with Israeli officers in the mess that night ended their stay:
“The next morning the CO sent for us after breakfast, to come to his office. He told us he had decided to dismiss us and so he booked us on the Great Circle Airways midday flight to Rome. “Earthquake” wasn’t concerned. He had a B-26 to pick up somewhere and then was heading for Saigon to do supply dropping. He had been there before and had been paid £250 per drop by the French.
Wiza and I spent a few days in Rome and then joined the DC-3* with Cec Owen. We arranged to share the flying so that we could fly night and day with our load of 21 refugees. We took off from Rome Airport at night and the passengers were rugged up against the cold and remained that way all the way through the tropics until we laid down an ultimatum at Koepang, which was only our second overnight stop. The toilet facilities were inadequate, all the passengers were overdressed and by Koepang we couldn’t stand the smell any longer. We ordered everyone to shower before boarding the aircraft for the flight to Darwin. The remainder of the trip was uneventful until reaching Sydney, when we were ordered to stay on the aircraft after the passengers had disembarked and we were questioned at some length about the whereabouts of the two Lockheeds. The story we gave was that they had developed engine trouble and were in the middle of the desert awaiting repairs and if they required any further information, they would have to contact Mr. Godden”. 3 * VH-BNH of New Holland Airways
The return to Sydney of some of these key players after delivering Hudsons to Israeli Air Force is recorded in a DCA cable to Head Office Melbourne from Sydney Airport 27 March 1949: “March 25th C-47 VH-BNH from Darwin twenty six passengers including S.V.Godden, G.Marcel and S.Jamieson.” 19
The matter of unauthorised Australian aircraft sales to Israel was raised in Federal Parliament, but it appears no action was taken against the owners by either DCA or Customs.
The postcriptIn August 1949 Captain A. J. Hurst (former pilot with New Holland Airways and Intercontinental Air Tours) made a written statement at Australia House, London. He had declined an offer to fly for the Israeli Air Force at £95 (Stirling) per week after delivering a Hudson to them from Australia. The Australian Hudsons were converted back to bombers and were flying missions against Arabs, initially still bearing their VH registration letters. His statement included the following:
DC-5 VH-ARD: grounded for spares in Palestine in very bad condition. It will not fly again.
Lodestar VH-BFZ: sold to Israel through Intercontinental Airlines. Used by Israel Air Force, written off in a crash by February 1949.
Hudson VH-BIA and -BFQ: owned by Southern European Transport Co (sic) represented by George Marcel who owns a milkbar in Sydney and is not personally connected with aviation. Both left Australia early 1949 on delivery to Palestine. Ownership transfer was made on the basis that the aircraft were chartered to the Israeli Government for five years.
Hudson VH-BLB: Guinea Air Traders. Left Australia February 1949 for Palestine on charter to Israeli Government and is now in the hands of the air force, still flying under Australian registration in hostilities against Arab forces.
| An Australian Hudson with Israel air force at Ekron air base in 1949 with operational bomb bay doors.|
|Israel Defence Force Air Force (IDFAF) records give the following details: 13, 60|
A personal recollection on flying the Israeli DC-5:
Hal Auerbach had joined 150 other American pilots to volunteer to fly in support of Israel’s survival. He was an experienced wartime US Navy PBY-5 pilot, and in March 1948 at Burbank, California commenced his Israeli tenure by transition training on to the Curtiss C-46. The American Jewish Agency for Palestine financed the purchase of 12 USAF disposals C-46s and other transport aircraft for a cover company created to disguise arms deliveries to Israel: LAPSA - Lineas Aereas de Panama Sociedad Anonomia. Painted in LAPSA markings with Panama flag on the tail, the C-46s were ferried to Europe via Mexico, Panama, Dutch Guinea, Brazil, Africa, Morocco, Sicily to Czechoslovakia. From a former Luftwaffe air base in the Sudentenland, west of Prague, they loaded arms and dismantled Czech built Me 109 fighters, which were carried without flight plans or clearances, on a shuttle between Czechoslovakia and Israel.
In June 1948, Hal Auerbach was at Tel Aviv between C-46 missions. He was keen to fly the DC-5, which had just been delivered and which, he recalled, still had VH-ARD on its tail. He had a fondness for the type from watching their original test flights at Mines Field in 1940 during his days as an entry-level clerk at Douglas. He familiarized himself with the DC-5 cockpit and systems, then gained approval for a check-out flight. He later wrote:
“Confident I could handle the DC-5 without transition training, we lined upon the runway for take off, pushed the throttles all the way home, and headed out over the Mediterranean. In flight the DC-5 was a stable and gentle airplane, had no bad habits, was fast, responsive and easy to fly. After a few practice take offs and landings, I taxied back to the ramp with a heady feeling that I, once a 25 cents an hour junior at Douglas, had flown one of their DC-5s I had so admired.”
A month later, in mid July 1948, Hal Auebach was back in Tel Aviv. The situation was desperate with Arab artillery from mountain top positions, pounding the Tel Aviv-Haifa road, which held the new nation together. Three Boeing B-17s had been delivered the previous week from Czechoslovakia where they had been fitted out as operational bombers using parts from abandoned wartime aircraft. When Ray Kurtz, commander of the Israeli B-17s received orders to bomb the artillery positions, Auebach suggested the DC-5 take part in the bombing:
“I asked Ray would he would mind if the DC-5 joined in as a back-door-bomber, flying inside his three plane formation. He said OK, he would arrange for bombs and bomb chuckers for us. Bomb chuckers were mostly immigrant soldiers who knew no English but hopefully comprehended enough sign language to roll live bombs out the back door without exploding them inside the airplane. In World War Two, flight crew often gave their aircraft colourful names. In that tradition and to add a little schmaltz to an otherwise tense mission, we named the DC-5 Yankee Pasha the Bagel Lancer.
On 21 July 1948, flying the DC-5 with copilot Bob Luerry, also a volunteer from California, we rendezvoused with the B-17s at their assigned altitude and elbowed our way into the middle of their formation. Because we were encircled with B-17 defensive firepower, we felt pretty safe. As soon as we saw the B-17s open their bomb bay doors and release their bombs, we chucked ours out the back door.
On landing at Tel Aviv, Yankee Pasha’s brakes failed and she'd kept rolling towards the end of the runway. Fortunately we were able to steer her into a low sand dune alongside the runway, where her wheels ploughed in to a safe gentle stop.
The mission completed successfully, I kissed the DC-5 goodbye, took a last sentimental look back at her sitting knee deep in the sand, went back to my C-46s and that was the last I ever saw of her.” 161
OTHER INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DURING THE PERIOD:The incomplete set of customs records for Sydney Airport 1947-49 which added such valuable detail to the story above included other flights of interest which appear unconnected with immigrant charters.
1. Douglas C-47A G-AKSM of British charter operator Sivewright Airways Ltd, Manchester-Ringway arrived at Sydney on 30 November 1948. It was listed in the Customs ledger as originating in France, under command of Cpt. Lander with 7 crew and 17 passengers. Australian agent was Qantas. After 3 weeks at Sydney, it departed on 22 December for Darwin via Cloncurry. The aircraft was carrying a delegation of Russian dioplomats to a conference of The Economic Commission for Asia and Far East (ECAFE) held at the Lapstone Hotel conference centre near Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
This quote from a history of British Independent Airline companies:
“At the end of 1948, Sivewright Airways became one of the many British charter companies to take part in the Berlin Airlift ......Other charters performed by Sivewright’s Dakota fleet included the carriage of pilgrims to Mecca and several charters between London and the Colonies on behalf of the Crown Agents. A party of Russian diplomats was flown to Australia.” 64
2. Shangai to Sydney: A series of charter flights were operated between Shangai and Sydney:
|3. Philippine Air Lines, Manila:
PAL flights to Sydney, assumed from Manila, operated under contract by
the US company Transocean Air Lines (TALOA). 55, 19|
|4. Air Ceylon DC-3 from Colombo to Sydney|
On 5 June 1948, Air Ceylon Douglas DC-3 VP-CAT arrived at Sydney Airport on a passenger charter from Ceylon. Customs clearance misidentified the aircraft as “VH-CAT” but correctly recorded the pilot in charge as Captain Fernando, with 5 crew and 17 passengers. The long flight had been arduous for crew and passengers, and has been researched by Roger Thiedeman: 162
DC-3 VP-CAT Sunethra Devi was one of the three former RAF Dakotas with which Ceylon’s first national airline Air Ceylon commenced regional services in December 1947. The Ceylon Government Fisheries Department asked the fledgling airline if it could transport a party of naval seamen to Sydney to take delivery of a large fishing trawler it had purchased in Australia and crew it back to Ceylon. The numbers grew, with various officials eager to join the trip, until the party reached 17 passengers. The flight crew was chosen as Captain Peter Fernando, First Officer P. B. Mawalagedera, a radio officer, flight engineer and purser/relief radio officer.
VP-CAT departed Ratmalana Airport, Colombo at 0745 hours on Sunday 30 May 1948. After refueling at Madras, India they reached Calcutta for the first night stop. A scheduled very early start next morning saw them airborne from Dum Dum Airport at 0310 hours for the long haul to Rangoon, then Singapore. Approaching Singapore that evening they flew into thunderstorms with extreme turbulence and the lightning induced static knocked out their radio and direction-finding instruments. They were lost in the dark but their distress radio calls had been heard, and a RAF aircraft dispatched to help. With the RAF crew’s assistance, they landed at Changi Airport after being airborne for a remarkable 9 hrs 15 mins. Tension had been high amongst the passengers, so all were relieved to be on the ground safely.
Following two days in Singapore, the DC-3 continued to Batavia, Surabaya, Koepang, reaching Darwin on Thursday 3 June. Next day their refueling stops were Daly Waters, Cloncurry, Charleville, then Brisbane for the night. Next day they flew on to the destination Sydney, arriving at 1240 hours on 5 June 1948.
The same crew ferried the empty aircraft back to Ceylon, departing Sydney on 10th June, making their overnight stops at Bali and Bangkok. They returned to Colombo on 17th June, where to their surprise, they were hailed as national heroes.
POSTSCRIPT: LATER MIGRANT FLIGHTS TO AUSTRALIAFollowing the enforced cessation of the ad-hoc itinerant charter flights 1947-1949 as detailed above, the Australian Government arranged travel for large scale European migration by ocean liners during the 1950s. Occasionally some were carried on scheduled airline services as well as dedicated charter flights by the major international airlines.
However during 1956-1957 a special program was implemented after European political crises in Yugoslavia, Hungary and Czechoslovakia caused many citizens to leave their homelands. An immediate shortage of shipping resulted in the Australian and Canadian Governments to arrange an airlift for those displaced persons wishing to migrate to those counties, in addition to the regular list of British emigrants. This airlift was contracted to Flying Tiger Line based at Burbank, California which had operated world-wide cargo and passenger charters since 1945. FTL organised a variety of similar US contract airlines with Douglas DC-4s which could be fitted with high density passenger seating for up to 80, and set up an almost daily departure schedule from London or Vienna bound for Canada and Australia. The Canadian operation was publicised with grand name "Air Bridge To Canada", however the Australian Government, in the restrained style of the period, gave it little press coverage.
The unlikely Australian terminus was the NSW country town of Wagga Wagga, chosen for its proximity to the Bonegilla Migrant Reception hostel in northern Victoria. Wagga Airport was a joint RAAF Station with runways and faciltiies able to handle aircraft to DC-4 size. Temporary customs facilities processed the arrivals before they were sent by bus to Bonegilla. In one particular airlift between May and June 1956, more than seventy chartered airliners were scheduled at Wagga, bringing 3,400 Hungarians, 1,100 Germans and 600 Austrians. 152
The Flying Tiger Line flew many Australian using its own DC-4s, recently replaced by Super Constellations on FTL's key military transport contracts. To carry the assigned numbers of migrants to Australia FTL subcontracted other US carriers such as Meteor Air Transport and the French airline UTA. A report in Propliner magazine describing the Canadian airlift from November 1956 to late 1957 provides a good reference to the aircraft likely to have also been used on the long haul to Wagga: All DC-4s:
Overseas National Airways
California Eastern Aviation
Great Lakes Airlines
Meteor Air Transport
This account by Aero Club of Broken Hill instructor Keith McCoy describes an early FTL charter from this period:
“On an hot afternoon in early January 1957 a group of pilots were sitting out the front of the Aero Club at Broken Hill Airport when the sound of a large multi-engined aircraft could be heard overhead. When we looked up we could see a Douglas DC-4 positioning for a landing. The aircraft duly landed and taxied to the apron adjoining the refuelling station. Much to everybody’s surprise the DC-4 carried the markings of FLYING TIGER LINE. The DC-4’s crew kept the engines running while a crew member jumped out of the rear cabin door and the tail stand pole was handed down to him to fix under the tail of the aircraft. The engines were shut down and the aircraft’s tail sank down heavily onto the stand. The DC-4 was stained heavily with engine oil and hydraulic oil and was looking well used. I thought this looks interesting, so while the aircraft was being refuelled I asked to have a look inside.
Much to my surprise the aircraft was full of passengers with clothes and belongings scattered throughout the cabin. Hanging from the cabin ceiling were string bags containing sticks of salami and metwurst and other bits and pieces. The air inside was hot with a strong body odour. The passengers identified themselves as Yugoslav immigrants to Australia escaping the turmoil of Yugoslavia. The Flying Tiger Line crew said that they had come from Darwin, leaving that morning and were bound for Wagga Wagga but were running low on fuel and diverted to Broken Hill. The DC-4 used most of the runway to get airborne and headed east after take-off but stayed low in the sky until they were out of sight.” 150
Further insight into the 1957 migrant uplift is given by experienced commercial pilot Paul Phelan:
“I was in the RAAF at Wagga at the time and remember the Hungarian migrants being flown in by Flying Tiger and UTA in DC-4s carrying 85 passengers in an aeroplane normally configured for 52. They were sent by bus to Bonagilla near Wodonga. Peter Abeles was one of the migrants. One flight arrived from Darwin on 3 engines – it had been observed feathering one shortly after takeoff from Darwin and was running 60 minutes late at Wagga, where he found he also had a flat nose wheel tyre. A couple of times they got the RAAF fire tender to park under the rear fuselage with a mattress on top so they wouldn't fall on their tails when they powered off.” 153
On 15 May 1957 a Flying Tiger DC-4 was escorted into Darwin by a RAAF Lincoln, after experiencing engine trouble over the Timor Sea at night en route Singapore-Darwin carrying 81 Hungarian immigrants and 7 crew. Press reports stated that the DC-4 was chartered by the Australian Government. 151
Tiger Line DC-4 N90423 at Wagga NSW on 6 July 1957, on a migrant
charter. Photo by Barrie Colledge|
Another migrant uplift was arranged by the Australian Government during
1959 to bring European applicants, mainly Poles and Hungarians. DC-4s
of US charter company Seven Seas Airlines flew many trips to Australia,
including N5519V and N5521V staging through Bahrein on 9 October 1959.
Italian charter operator Societa Aerea Mediterranea-SAM was another
airline on this contract.193|
By the early 1960s when the ocean liner era was coming to an end, the majority of Government sponsored travel for migrants to Australia was by air. When British migration was heavily promoted in the 1960s, referred to colloquially as the "Ten Quid Pom" programs, the migrant uplift was principally by air, either on scheduled BOAC and Qantas services or dedicated charter flights. Bristol Britannias of British Eagle flew mumerous British migrant charters to Australia during the 1960s.
Details on the careers of Australian pilots who took part in the migrant charter period
|Greg Board: |
Gregory Richmond Board, 7 Kilgoa Road, Bellevue Hill, Sydney
5.5.21 Born at Point Piper, Sydney
11.11.40 Enlisted in Royal Australian Air Force, occupation on enlistment was student. Pilot training at No.4 EFTS Mascot
27.3.41 Forced landing in Wirraway A20-212 during training at No.2 Service Flying Training School, Wagga
29.7.41 Embarked Sydney for Singapore. On 15.8.41 Sgt Gregory R. Board was among RAAF pilots in Malaya with RAAF 453 Squadron based Sembawang equipped with Brewster Buffalos
19.12.41 pilot of 453 Squadron Brewster Buffalo W8216 when damaged on takeoff Ipoh. 194
22.12.41 pilot of Brewster Buffalo W8170 when he shot down a Japanese Ki48 "Lilly" bomber but was attacked by enemy fighters: baled out of burning Buffalo near Kuala Lumpur, Malaya. 194, 195
10.1.42 forced landing in Buffalo W8219 Kuala Lumpur, aircraft wrecked. 194
2.42 Board was among 453 Squadron personnel to escape to Batavia Java, then to Australia on S.S.Orcades. They disembarked at Port Adelaide on 15.3.42 and the Squadron was disbanded the same day.
10.4.42 Sgt. G.R.Board joined No.2 Operational Training Unit, Mildura as flying instructor. Promoted 1.10.42 to Pilot Officer
21.2.43 Boomerang A46-36 of 2OTU Mildura, flown by Pilot Officer G. R. Board made forced landing in country Victoria due fuel
selector failure. Pilot borrowed a bike spanner from a passing cyclist and turned the selector valve to the second tank, then continued the flight.
10.3.43 Transferred to RAAF Reserve and attached to Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Fishermans Bend, Melbourne
as test pilot for CAC Boomerang fighters and CAC Woomera bombers. 20, 30, 31
43 Rumours circulated in Melbourne that Board often landed his Boomerangs while on test flights on a farm near Werribee where the fuel was siphoned out and sold as motor fuel on the black market. Rumours about Board’s personal life, including his use of an alias "Gregory Barton", and alleged communist associates prompted an investigation by the forerunner of the Australian national security organization ASIO. He was secretly followed in Melbourne for several months, but the report found no evidence of any impropriety and summarized that he was a socially popular person who attracted gossip within the Melbourne social set. 119
Test pilot Sgt Gregory R. Board in the cockpit of a CAC Boomerang fighter. CAC via John Hopton Collection13.3.45 Discharged from RAAF with rank Pilot Officer. 183
.47 Founded New Holland Airways, Sydney. Refer New Holland Airways chronology above
10-11.48 Board ferried Raymond Penny's Hudson VH-BIH from Sydney to Rome, arrived 6.11.48 on delivery to Israeli air force.
11.48 Rome-Marseillesby US C-47, Marseilles-Nice by Curtiss C-46, Nice-Rome by Savoia-Marchetti
27.11.48 Rome-Bombay by TWA DC-4.
12.48-7.49 Based India making frequent passenger flights between Bombay and Karachi on Air India Vikings and DC-3s.
9.2.49 Flew Stinson L-5 Sentinel VT-CAR on local flight Bombay-Juhu
5.49-7.49 Board's pilot log book records almost daily instructing flights in Piper Cruiser VT-CNU and Stinson VT-CAR
12.49 Back in Australia. Log book: numerous flights in Tiger Moth VH-ATS 15.12.49-9.2.50 (no location) probably joyriding.
7.50 Flew Inland Airways Avro Anson VH-BMQ (operated by Warren Penny) on scheduled services from Broken Hill.
8.1.51 Greg Board was in England and purchased Percival Proctor 5 G-AHTG. It was serviced by Miles Aircraft at Redhill and rolled out on 24 January 1951 painted as VH-BDA. Test flown by Board at Redhill 25.1.51. Departed Croydon Airport, London for Australia 1.2.51 flown solo by Board “in easy stages”, reached Sydney 16.3.51. Sold 1.52.
5.51 Sydney Central Court case: a Sydney art collector was charged with stealing two oil paintings valued at over £1000 from Gregory Richmond Board. The paintings had come from of the late Leslie Board. The art dealer told police that Mrs Gregory Board and others in her family had borrowed money from him and that he had worked for the Board family since 1940 but was paid no wages for a period. Outcome of the court case not reported.
10.50 Flew Overland Air Services Lodestar VH-OAS on scheduled services from Sydney until 11.50, thern again 1.52
3.52 Commenced contract with Malayan Airways, Kuala Lumpur as DC-3 First Officer. Last flight 12.7.52 30
8.52 Commenced contract with Air Liban, Beirut, renamed Trans Mediterranean Airways.
First Officer on DC-3s and Avro Yorks, from 11.53 Captain on Yorks on extensive route structure as far as London.
Last logged TMA flight 18.2.55 York OD-ACD London-Rome-Athens-Beirut
12.55 Fying from Beirut for Televison Associates of Indiana Inc, Michigan City Indiana using Navions N9897F & N9895F. This US business formed in 1952 by W.C. Eddy specialised in worldwide aerial survey to establish locations for the installation of TV towers and repeaters. It worked on classified projects with US Government agencies to evaluate transmission of communications data using relecting dishes extendig from bomb bays of B-25 Mitchell N58TA and Beech AT-11 Kansans N54TA, N55TA, N56TA which were frequently operating in Iran in late 1950s. 120
(Beech AT-11 N54T ferried via Heathrow 23 February 1958, through Bahrein 29 March 1958 and crashed in Iran on 10 July 1958.
Beech AT-11 N56TA ferried via Blackbushe, England 27 September 1958, N56TA based at Hong Kong circa 1960 with large underwing long range fuel tanks and named Star of the East
Beech AT-11 N57TA at Prestwick, Scotland 18 September 1959,
B-25 N58TA at Prestwick 17 October 1959, later at Gatwick 27 April 1963.
.Television Associates of Indiana Ryan Navions N9898F and N9897F were also based in Iran: N9897F (c/n NAV-4-331 ex LR-AAU) was cancelled from the US Civil Register 26 May 1956 as sold to Captain Board, Australia. However it was seen at Beirut on 20 September 1956 parked alongside N9898F. Television Associates re-registered the pair N53TA and N52TA respectively and both Navions passed through Bahrein on 25 March 1958 en route to Karachi. N53TA returned through Bahrein on 18 May 1958. ) 14, 120, 140
3.57-5.57 Flying Avro Yorks again for Trans Mediterranean Airways, Beirut
6.57-12.57 Board moved to USA to Michigan City, Indiana flying full-time for Television Associates of Indiana Inc.
Extensive survey flying across continental USA, also Cuba in Beech AT-11s N54TA & N55TA
1.58-4.58 Based at Baghdad flying Beech AT-11 N54TA and Navions N52TA & N53TA, including desert landings.
7.58 Back at Michigan City, Indiana but his logbooks record no further flying for Television Associates.
7.58 Test flew his Grumman (Columbia) XJL-1 amphibian N54205 (ex US Navy Bu31400) which had had purchased the previous year and ferried from Rockford Illinois. He carried out maintenance of the XJL-1 while on the water at Michigan City lakefront, repairing a faulty float nosewheel , before flying it across to Michigan City Airport. Here further work was done and Board submitted plans for various modifications to FAA for approval. As a result, the FAA issued Civil Conversion Certificate Approval for the XJL-1 type to G. R. Board, Michigan City IN 28, 169
9.58 Board now flying for American Compressed Steel Corp, Cincinatti, Ohio. This company purchased large numbers of military disposals aircraft for scrapping, also resale on the civil market. Associated companies were Aero Associates Inc and Aero American Corp, both registered in Cincinatti but operating at Tucson, Arizona to be close to the main US military aircraft disposals bases Davis Monthan AFB, Tucson and NAS Litchfield Park near Phoenix, Arizona.
Greg Board began by flying the American Compressed Steel corporate Beech D18S N7002 based Cincinatti, later test flying and ferrying US Air Force disposals aircraft, ranging from Beech C-45s to Fairchild C-82s.
59-65 Board was Vice President, then by September 1960 President of Aero Associates Inc, Tucson Arizona and an associated company Aero American Corp, Tucson AZ. Both companies specialised in civil resale of ex military aircraft purchased ex US Air Force and US Navy disposals airfields in Arizona. Large numbers of C-47s and military Beech 18s, as well as the last B-17s ex US Navy service were purchased. The C-47s were converted to civil, sold directly to overseas air forces or broken up for parts. Their combined maintenance base was at Ryan Field near Tucson and some thirty ex USAF C-47s were still at Ryan Field in the 1970s, with engines and parts removed.
59-65 Greg Board's logbooks record him flying a wide variety of military disposals aircraft at Tucson AZ, numerous ferry flights out of Davis Monthan AFB, test flights at Ryan Field and delivery flights to customers across USA, Mexico and South America:
A-26, B-17, B-25, Beech C-45, Curtiss C-46, C-54, P-51, PBY-5 Catalina, PB4Y Privateer, T-6, T-28, commuting frequently betwen Tucson and Ryan Field in a Sikorksy S-51 helicopter
5.60 He test flew his Grumman XJL-1 amphibian N54205 at Michigan City, prior to ferrying it his new home at Tucson AZ. When the undercarriage would not fully retract, he made a water landing during which the extended gear caused a severe swing, which damaged the aircraft, which was half submerged. Repaired.
11.60 He commenced a ferry flight of XJL-1 N54205 from Indiana to Tucson, but after 50 miles, engine failure caused a forced landing in a farmer’s field near Kankakee, Illinois. After repairs by Aero Associates mechanics sent from Tucson, Board continued the ferry in March 1961. However another forced landing was made at Woodward OK when the same engine failed again. The aircraft was left there while he was involved with the B-17 ferry flights to England for the movie The War Lover. In November 1961 he completed the ferry flight from Woodward OK to Tucson via El Paso TX.
Board and his friend Martin Caidin were planning a non-stop around the world flight in the XJL-1. Board commissioned Aero Associates Inc to carry out modifications for extra fuel tankage, provision for air-to-air refueling, and replacing the 1200hp Wright R-1820-56 radial with a 1700hp Wright R-2600 with new engine mounts, propeller and custom cowlings. Most of this work was completed but the aircraft never flew again. Much later in 1965 Aero American Inc won a court judgement against Board for unpaid maintenance work on the XJL, and the aircraft was transferred to Aero American Inc ownership and left parked at Ryan Field. It is displayed today at Pima Air & Space Museum at Tucson 169
6.61 Board purchased in his own name Douglas B-26C N7684C (ex USAF 44-35615) from Paramount Aquariums Inc, Florida.
The civilianised Invader was registered 12 June 1961 to Gregory R. Board, 808 North Erin Blvd, Tucson AZ but immediately resold to Canada in July 1961.
62 Greg Board and aviation author Martin Caidin were among pilots of Boeing B-17G Fortresses N9563Z, N5229V, N5232V owned by Aero American Corp, in a delivery flight from USA to England for the movie The War Lover. Enroute Board and Caiden were imprisoned in Lisbon by Portuguese Secret Police, but were released in time to fly the B-17s for the movie in England. The adventure was described by Caidin in his book Everything but the Flack.
63 North American SNJ-5 Texan N1043C (ex Bu43745) was owned by G. R. Board, 808 N Erin Boulevard, Tucson AZ.
63 Board and Martin Caidin flew B-25 Mitchell N9089Z owned by Aero Associates Inc to England to be the camera platform for several movies. Board flew the B-25, Me108s and Mosquitos for the movies 633 Squadron and The Longest Day. The B-25 was abandoned at Biggin Hill in 1964, later moved between British museums.
12.63 Board and Caidin each purchased a Nord 1002 (licence built Me 108) used in movie 633 Squadron to fly to USA for resale. F-BGVU en route Martlesham to Paris cleared Customs at Southend on 22 October 1963, owner quoted as Aero Associates Inc, Tucson AZ. Both staged through Prestwick on 1 December 1963, departing 12 days later, both still painted in Luftwaffe camouflage masquerading as
Bf 109s from the movie.
- Board’s Nord 1002 N107U (ex F-BGVU c/n 264) registered to Aero Associates Inc made forced landing on the ice cap 136 miles east of Goose Bay, Labrador 12.12.63. Crew of Francis Freeman and Robin Carruthers were picked up by RCAF Otter on skis, but the Nord was abandoned in situ.
- Caidin’s N108U (ex F-BFYX c/n 188) flown to USA by John “Jeff” Hawke, one of the movie pilots, with Jean Cullum. US civil certification was carried out at Zahn Airport, Long Island NY during 1963.
64-66 Gregory Board’s company Aero Associates Inc took a contract with arms dealer Luber SA, Geneva, Switzerland to supply 20 Douglas B-26 Invaders in military configuration to the Portuguese Air Force. The United Nations had an embargo on sales of combat aircraft to Portugal because of their probable use against colonial uprisings in Africa.
The stored ex USAF B-26s were purchased by Aero Associates Inc and given overhauls by Hamilton Aircraft Co at Tucson Airport. British aviation adventurer John “Jeff” Hawke was engaged by Board to fly the clandestine delivery flights to Portugal, using subterfuge paperwork indicating civil sales. After the seventh B-26 had been delivered, US Customs stopped further deliveries when they arrested Hawke and a French weapons dealer associate at Miami, Florida on 16 September 1966 while delivering spare parts to Portugal in a Curtiss C-46 N67934. Greg Board is reported to have flown to Jamaica the previous day and could not be located. In 1967 Board was among the associates who were tried on a charge of illegal export of military aircraft and parts. The indictments against several associates were dismissed by the court, those against Hawke and the French arms dealer were acquitted by jury. Gregory Board was never brought to trial and the charges against him were finally dropped by the US State Department in June 1973.
Board's pilot logbook shows a number of A-26 test flights from March 1965 and in May 1965 he delivered an A-26 from Tucson to Lisbon. In July 1965 he flew a Curtiss C-46 Commando from Dallas to Lisbon, almost certainly carrying A-26 spare parts and instructed Portuguese air force pilots on the A-26 before returning to Dallas in the C-46. In August 1965 he made another C-46 flight Dallas-Lisbon in then had lengthy stays in Portugal instructing until June 1966. During that time he logged command time in Portuguese Air Force Junkers Ju 52s flying between air force bases.
The Portuguese B-26 deal was described by Dan Hagerdorn and Leif Hellstrom in their book Foreign Invaders – The Douglas Invader in foreign military and US clandestine service. 74
“Luber SA president Lucien Bernard, hired a Frenchman named Henri de Montmarin to locate and secure the Invaders for the company. De Montmarin initially tried to obtain some Invaders in Europe…but without result. In November 1964 he got in touch with Gregory R. Board of Tucson Arizona, who told him he did have a number of Invaders available. The number of aircraft initially discussed was 12 with an option for a further 8, but there was apparently also some talk of 36 in all. After their meetings, de Montmarin recommended to Luber that they deal with Board.
Board was originally from Australia and served in the RAAF during the Second World War. Later on, he became a US citizen and began dealing in second-hand aircraft, ultimately setting up his own company Aero Associates Inc in Tucson. But Board did not own any Invaders, so he in turn got in touch with Gordon B. Hamilton. He was owner of Hamilton Aircraft Co, also at Tucson Airport, which had processed nearly 200 Invaders for military and civilian clients around the world, and held about 60 USAF surplus Invaders in storage.
Board and Hamilton first discussed the deal in November 1964, then in more detail in March 1965. The number of aircraft had now been fixed at 20. It was agreed that Aero Associates Inc would purchase the Invaders and Hamilton Aircraft Co would carry out the necessary maintenance before delivery.
On 1 April 1965 Luber SA formally ordered 20 B-26s from Aero Associates. Three weeks later Luber opened a Letter of Credit to the amount of $694,550.50 through the United Overseas Bank in Geneva. Under the terms of the Letter of Credit, Aero Associates Inc would receive $28,900 for each of the first 3 aircraft and $27,000 for each of the remaining 17 aircraft. The first aircraft was to be delivered by
30 April 1965 and the last by 21 January 1966. The balance of the amount was for spare parts and accessories. Board immediately began purchasing Invaders: some from Hamilton Aircraft storage stocks and some from elsewhere.
Throughout this period Board remained evasive about the destination of the aircraft. When pressed, Board claimed that the Invaders would go to France, to be converted to turboprop executive aircraft. Later he would also claim they were part of a consignment of 40 Invaders for Saudi Arabia. Confronted with these unlikely explanations, Gordon Hamilton wrote to US Customs in early May 1965 and informed them of the contract but got no response. Hamilton Aircraft began working on the first Invader in May 1965. Each aircraft was stripped down and a complete IRAN carried ouit. The switches for the bomb and gun circuits were removed to comply with FAA regulations, but the actual circuits were left intact.
Meanwhile, Board had been looking for a pilot to ferry the B-26s to Portugal. The man finally hired for the job was an Englishman John Hawke. The first B-26 became ready on 28 May 1965 and was flown out of the USA on 2 June, flying over Newfoundland, and then to Portugal via the Azores.”
65-66 Board moved his family from Tucson to Jamaica, where it is reported he planned to operate an inter-island shipping service. A vessel was purchased but his hired captain stole the ship, which was later found in Miami. From July 1965 in between flights to Lisbon and A-26 pilot training in Portugal, Board's log book shows him flying Miami-Kingston Jamaica return using rented Piper Aztecs and Twin Comanches. His last logged flight in Jamaica was in July 1966 in a Grumman Widgeon amphibian. The following month he was in Paris when he flew a Beech C-45 to Nice, Gatwick and back to Paris.
9.66 Greg Board returned to his homeland and moved his family from Jamaica to Sydney. 112
10.66 Commenced flying in Australia, firstly with Avis Rent-a-Plane, Sydney (Peter Ahrens) flying charters mostly Piper Aztecs and Aero Commander.
2.70 Gregory R. Board, 178 McCarr’s Creek Road, Church Point, Sydney purchased Piaggio P166 VH-GOE from Hawker deHavilland, Bankstown (traded in by Ansett Airlines of PNG on Twin Otters). It was delivered to Camden NSW in February 1970 for fitting of mineral survey equipment by Skyservice Aviation, noted at Camden April 1970 repainted brown and white with titles "Air Research Pty Ltd, Sydney - Air Surveys Geophysics Division."
4.70 Norduyn Norseman VH-GSG leased for a year from Skyservice Aviation, Camden (Ed Fleming) was painted at Camden in the same brown and white scheme as P166 VH-GOE and same titles. It was fitted with a magnetometer bomb under belly and additional fuel tanks to give 200 gallon capacity for extra endurance for survey operations. Offered for magnetometer, scintillometer and photographic survey work.
25.7.70 Cessna 210A VH-RHT purchased by Greg Board, Sydney. Ownership transferred 17 September 1970 to Air Research Pty Ltd. Sold in November 1971.
12.70 Republic Seabee VH-MJO purchased by Greg Board and based at his home at McCarr’s Creek Road, Church Point, a northern Sydney suburb. The house backed on to the shores of Pittwater, and the Seabee was moored over a special frame at his house, which became exposed as the tide went out leaving the aircraft well above the seawater. Board used the amphibian to fly to Camden where he was operating the Piaggio and Norseman, and was painted in same brown and white scheme. Later when he moved to Bankstown he based the Seabee there until it was sold to Bill Suhr, Moorabbin in 1972, operating shark patrols over Melbourne beaches.
8.70 Reported that Air Research Pty Ltd had ceased operating. Piaggio 166 VH-GOE was at Bankstown still owned by Board.
4.71 Piaggio VH-GOE at Bankstown now painted as Mineralair - Charter Survey - Sydney. Operated by Board on regular freight work commencing mid 1971, including a regular contract to deliver day-old chickens from commercial hatcheries near Sydney to poultry farms around Australia including regular delveries to Perth. The large cabin size of the Piaggio allowed 11,000 live chics in boxes to be carried.
1.4.73 Greg Board flew Piaggio P166 VH-PNC on a passenger charter from Mascot to Nowra return. The aircraft was owned by General Aviation Air Freighters Pty Ltd (Ray Causer).
11.73 Piaggio P166A VH-GOC purchased by G.R. Board. He based it at Bankstown, retaining basic Ansett Airlines of Papua New Guinea colour scheme without titles. South Pacific Airways titles were added in late 1975. Crashed and destroyed near Marulan NSW on 22 February 1977 shortly after departure on a flight from Sydney to Warracknabeal Vic carrying 11,000 day-old chickens. Pilot killed.
7.74 Piaggio VH-GOE transferred to a new Greg Board company South Pacific Airways Pty Ltd, Sydney.
In October 1974 it was repainted in new green and white scheme with titles “South Pacific Airways” with large “SPA” on fin, now flying regularly. Chicken flights resumed to Perth in 1975. VH-GOE was retired at Bankstown in early 76 due maintenance requirements, struck off register 24 May 1976. Stripped of parts and one engine by 1977, it was derelict in the Bankstown “Piaggio graveyard” by 1978.
10.75 One of Greg Board's incomplete pilot log books records his flying Hiller UH12 VH-THA at Hoxton Park NSW then numerous flights in that helicopter from Bankstown and Camden until June 1976.
1.76 Piaggio P166A VH-FSA delivered to Bankstown in South Pacific titles, just purchased by Board from Hookway Aviation, Melbourne. VH-FSA replaced GOE on freight charters. Retired at Bankstown by December 1976, sold 11 March 1977 to W. D. Hooper trading as Eagle Airways, Sydney. 63
1.76 SIAI Marchetti FN333 Riviera VH-SAV purchased by South Pacific Airways, Sydney. It was sold a year later on 28 January 1977.
1.76 Grumman Mallard N121SP purchased in USA by Greg Board with a Miami Florida address, believed to be the home of his son Mark R. Board, an American citizen. Greg Board departed Miami on 6 March 1976 on delivery flight to Australia, aircraft painted with
“South Pacific Airways” titles. Routed via Montreal, St John's, Azores, Spain, Naples, Dubai, Rangoon, Ujung Pandang, Daru, Townsville arriving Bankstown 16 April 1976.
Registered VH-SPL 13 August 1976 to G.R. Board, Sydney. That same month the Mallard was advertised as available for Lease/Sale/Charter: "13 seat amphibian in superb condition, fitted weather radar, just completed major inspection and survey for Australian registration by Hawker deHavilland. If your company desires the ultimate in luxurious accommodation with the versatility of a flying yacht then contact the owner: South Pacific Airways Pty Ltd, 178 McCarr’s Creek Road, Church Point.”
Mallard VH-SPL was flown by Board on a holiday trip to Coolangatta and Brampton Island, also landings on Pittwater, Sydney.
5.77 Mallard VH-SPL was flown from Sydney to Malaysia by Greg Board and Brian "Blackjack" Walker, and flown from Penang and Borneo filming a TV series named Bailey's Bird. Walker, who had occasionally flown Greg's Piaggios, mentions in his autobiography:
".... in early 1977, when my friend Greg Board came up with another proposition, which was to ferry a Grumman Mallard, a fairly big amphibian, to Penang. How he got into these things, I could never fathom, but this aeroplane was needed to make a film called "Bailey's Bird" which was a TV series about this character who was floating around the islands." 19
VH-SPL was based at Penang until December 1977, flying to Singapore for monthly servicing at Seletar. Board's log book records a charter on the side in September 1977 for a Mr. Boon: Penang-Kuala Lumpur-Kuantan-Kuching-Labuan-Ambong Reef, no landing due high sea, return to Penang. During November the Mallard suffered 10 days down time while being repaired after a collision with a fishing boat. Filming was completed at Penang in December 1977 with 22 hours flown during the month.
1.78 With little prospect of finding commercial work for the Mallard in Australia, ownership was transferred to Greg's son Mark Board in Miami, Florida and the aircraft repainted as N83781 at Singapore. Greg and Mark departed Singapore on 5 January 1978 ferrying the Mallard via Mergui, Rangoon, Bahrein, Nice, Jersey, Hatfield, Oxford, Keflavik, Goose Bay, Montreal, reaching Miami in March, where it was promptly sold.
90 Greg Board was retired, living at Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise Queensland. Built a Murphy Rebel VH-DOD in his home garage, which was registered VH-DOD on 9 March 1995 to G. R. Board, Broadbeach Qld. Board took over the Australian agency for this homebuilt type. 112
5.96 Logged local flights in command of a Robinson helicopter . Greg was reportedly seen at Moorabbin some years later to renew his rotary wing licence.
6.07 Gregory Richmond Board died in Queensland. Among tributes, a fellow pilot wrote “If you had the pleasure of flying with this talented and focussed man, who was better at crash landing than anyone I knew, you would have sat next to someone who was larger than life in the volatile dangerous days of unreliable aviation.” 112
William Leslie Burdus
|15.5.17 Born Paramatta NSW|
4.47 Experienced RAAF pilot Bill Burdus joined Guinea Air Traders at Lae, flying Ansons
24.5.47 Bill Burdus and Peter Lavender were flying GAT Ansons from Lae to Bulolo. A good natured rivalry between the two young and high spirited pilots led to both departing Lae and a race taking different routes to Bulolo, where they made landing approaches to opposite ends of the Bulolo runway at the same time (no radios fitted), obscured from each by terrain. Burdus in VH-ALS landed, Lavender in VH-AYD attempted to go around but was unable to out-climb terrain and hit a ridge. Aircraft was wrecked but Lavender sustained no injury. 45
19.3.48 Bill Burdus departed Sydney for Athens in Hudson VH-JCM owned by Curtiss Madsen Aircrafts Pty Ltd on charter to European Air Transport. Burdus arrived back at Mascot 13.5.48 carrying 13 Greek migrants.
48/49 DC-3 Captain for Guinea Air Traders on migrant charters to Europe. Refer Guinea Air Traders chronology above
.50 Joined Department of Civil Aviation, based Head Office, Melbourne. Appointed as Inspector of Accidents
16.10.51 Arrived Kalgoorlie WA on a DCA DC-3 from Melbourne to investigate crash of Airlines (WA) Ltd DH.104 Dove VH-AQO.
4.4.56 W.L.Burdus, Inspector of Accidents, DCA Head Office wrote a report on the original accident investigation of the crash of Noorduyn Norseman VH-BNT at Ialibu, New Guinea on 17 April 1955, while operated by Gibbes Sepik Airways.
60s Phil McCulloch, then a DCA airports inspector recalls: "I came to meet Bill Burdus in the course of my time in DCA Head Office for periods between 1950 and 1963, and later, during a flight with Jim Schofield and Bill in DCA Aero Commander VH-CAW in NT during the 1960s. Bill spoke on occasions about the migrant fights and their 'irregularities' ." 125
12.68 W.L.Burdus wrote a report on a DCA program to deter birds from airports.
Martin Laurence Cherry, 8 Roma Avenue, Kensington, Sydney
4.4.25 Born Kensington, Sydney
4.43 Enlisted in RAAF, pilot training at 11 EFTS Benalla, and 5 SFTS Uranquinty
12.44 Instructor at 2OTU Mildura on Wirraways and P-40
3.45 Sailed from Townsville to Morotai with 80 Squadron, flew P-40s
10.45 76 Squadron, Morotai
4.46 Disemabarked Darwin returning by sea from Borneo
6.46 Discharged from RAAF as Warrant Officer
1.4.47 DH82A Tiger Moth VH-AVA added to Civil Register to M. L. Cherry, Sydney (ex RAAF A17-406, sold by Commonwealth Disposals Commission to James Long, Sydney)
2.5.47 Cherry departed Mascot in VH-AVA flying solo to Malaya, where he sold the aircraft to Chinese businessmen Ho Ah Loke, Odeon Theatre, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Yue Hong, High Street Lane, Kuala Lumpur. It was re-registered VR-RBD in August 1947.
Sydney newspaper report: "Martin Cherry, 22, a former RAAF pilot, of Kensington took off to-day from Kingsford Smith airport on an old style adventure flight to Malaya in a Tiger Moth. Cherry had considerable experience in the East-Indies with the RAAF and had been with a civil company in the East since his discharge" He returned to Sydney 19.6.47.
12.47 Cherry was Sydney Manager of European Air Transport, Sydney Refer European Air Transport chronology above
49-52 Cherry lived in England, employed by Handley Page (Reading) Ltd
.51 Delivered a Miles Aerovan from England to Benguella, Angola
1.11.51 Martin Cherry, Crowthorne, Berks, purchased Percival Proctor 3 G-AIIL in England. On 9.11.51 he departed Croydon Airport, London on ferry flight to Australia accompanied by two friends.
3.12.51 G-AIIL arrived at Sydney after Cherry had refused an Australian Customs order to proceed from Wyndham to Darwin, which he complained would have added an unreasonable extra distance and cost to his delivery flight. The aircraft had been cleared on behalf of Customs on arrival Wyndham by the town police officer and they had stayed the night in Wyndham. Cherry instead flew direct to Sydney. Press reports over Customs threats of legal action and baseless allegations of smuggling. G-AIIL was sold and registered VH-AYQ in March 1952.
12.51 A few weeks later Cherry returned to England by sea, announcing his engagement to an English girl and telling press that he intended to fly another Proctor to Australia as a honeymoon flight.
4.52 Married Miss Myrtle Chalk in London
3.4.52 Purchased Percival Proctor 3 G-ALSM which he registered in this wife’s name Myrtle L. J. Cherry, Crowthorne. Berks. Cherry and his wife departed England that month on ferry flight to Australia where he planned to sell the Proctor.
11.5.52 G-ALSM lost without trace over Timor Sea between Koepang, Timor and Darwin. James Whiteman (que se) departed Koepang the same morning in his Fairchild Argus VR-RBE. The Proctor was faster, and some time into the flight Whiteman observed a blue seat cushion floating on the sea, the same colour as the Proctor's seating.
A large-scale air search by RAAF Lincoln and Dakota, Qantas DC-4, and Indonesian Air Force B-25 and PBY-5 was called off after 8 days. Martin Cherry was aged 26.
Edmund Gordon Vincent Gabriel, Sydney
27.12.19 Boirn Broken Hill NSW
8.1.40 Enlisted in RAAF. Graduated from No.26 Cadet Course, Mascot
12.41 Arrived at Sembawang with Hudson replacements as Hudson Second Pilot. He was among RAAF crews who flew their Hudsons from Singapore through Java attacked by Japanese on ground and air.
1.42 Captured by Japanese, survived POW camps and repatriated from Thailand in 1945.
11.47 Ted Gabriel test flew Curtiss Madsen Aircrafts Lockheed Hudson VH-JCM after civil conversion, with Mac Twemlow. They were original pilots for CMA slong with Jim Madsen.
2.48 Gabriel and Twemlow flew Curtis Madsen Aircrafts' Hudson VH-JCM from Sydney to Athens and return on charter to European Air Transport as their inaugural migrant service.
19.3.48 Gabriel joined Qantas Empire Airways as First Officer on DC-3 and Short Hythe flying boats
Stanley Vaux Godden, “Melton” 116 Victoria Street, Potts Point, Sydney
Stan Godden was a Sydney car dealer before and after WWII. He was a widely-known character involved in black market dealings during the war and post-war rationing years. Warren Penny knew him while flying RAAF Dakotas on courier runs to Australian forces in Borneo:
“When I arrived in Sydney, I cashed the American cigarettes in with an old acquaintance of mine, Stan Godden, who was running an operation in Kings Cross. I received £416 for the eight cases and orders for plenty more.” 5
46-47 Godden put up finance and became a founding partner in Intercontinental Air Tours and New Holland Airways. Purchased 5 RAAF Hudsons from disposals, three in partnership with Greg Board, all appear to have been investments for resale.
9.47 Purchased Lodestar A67-7 in partnership with Warren Penny which was registered VH-BFZ in the name Godden Air Transport, Sydney. The GAT business did not have a charter licence and the Lodestar was operated by ICAT and later NHAW.Refer Australian company chronologies above.
The original three partners of Intercontinental Air Tours at RAAF Tocumwal 27 February 1947 inspecting Lodestar A67-5.
Left Warren Penny, centre Stan Godden, on the engine stand Greg Board, accompanied by two helpful RAAF ground crew.
This Lodestar became New Holland Airways' VH-GRB. Photo: Warren Penny via Greg Banfield
8.48 Godden sold his Lodestar VH-BFZ to Israeli agents and it was ferried from Sydney to Rome on delivery to Israeli Air Force, with Stan Godden on board as a passenger.
.50 Purchased a share of an established business, Maurice Dry Cleaners in Double Bay, Sydney and later owned the business. He was President of the Dry Cleaners Association of NSW for 10 years and President of Federal Council of Dry Cleaners in Australia for 5 years.
.60 Stan Godden joined Doug Fawcett in a partnership to establish All Type Auto Repairs, Sydney to repair Postmaster General (PMG) buses with Alclad aircraft skin. Grew into a successful business leading to 30 years of PMG/Telecom/Telstra contracts: caravans, mobile workshops and toilets, equipment and repairs.
1.2.64 Stanley Godden died in Mater Hospital, Sydney. Obituaries included: “He was a man who was always innovating and adapting. He never stood still.” 100
Gregory W. Hanlon. Hanlon’s middle name quoted as “William” and “Wolfram” in various references but appears to be the same person:
6.47 Gregory Wolfram Hanlon was an original partner with Greg Board in the formation of New Holland Airways, Sydney.
Hanlon was unflatteringly described as “a spiv who wore immaculate white suits and stayed at Raffles in Singapore” and it was claimed he was active in illegal smuggling of gold out of Australia by aircraft. See THE DARKER SIDE above.
7.48 Greg Board gained a court injunction to prevent his partner Greg Hanlon taking two NHAW aircraft out of Australia because Hanlon wanted to quit the business and sell their aircraft overseas.
7.11.48 G.Hanlon joined the crew of New Holland Airways DC-3 I-TROS at Rome departing for Australia. He was listed on the crew manifest as “Engineer” despite two other engineers in the crew.
49 Migrant flights stopped for Australian operators. Board had left Australia, leaving Hanlon as owner and General Manager of New Holland Airways. In July 1949 the company’s remaining aircraft were taken over by former NHAW operations manager Ron Howitt and the company's charter licence transferred to Howitt.
2.50 Greg Hanlon wrote to DCA advising that NHAW was no longer operating as a company. The remaining NHAW aircraft, Lodestar VH-GRB was stored at Bankstown. It was sold to Overland Air Services Condobolin NSW in August 1950 (Operations Manager Ron Howitt).
4.50 ANA wrote to DCA: “Gregory William Hanlon who trades under the name New Holland Airways is indebted to this company for a considerable amount of money". ANA holds Bill of Sale on Lodestar VH-GRB and two spare Wright Cyclone engines. If the aircraft is sold, we will have first call on the monies paid in settlement of his debt to us” 37
4.6.55 The Age newspaper Melbourne reported a court case in which a Mr. Gregory William Hanlon of Double Bay, Sydney was charged with theft of £900 during a gold transaction. Hanlon admitted to convictions for receiving, carrying an unlicensed pistol, malicious damage and offensive behavior. In July 1944 he had been convicted of theft of US Navy stores and in the same month profiteering for charging US servicemen on leave a weekly rent five times more than he paid for a Sydney flat.
Ronald William Howitt, Sydney
20.12.21 Born Strathmore NSW
6.12.41 Enlisted in RAAF
43-44 RAAF transport pilot. Attached RAF No.52 Squadron India, flew transports in Burma.
44 Attached to RAF No.229 Group Communications Flight based Delhi-Palam Airport, India
26.7.44 Head injuries when vehicle collided with train at Agatala, India. In hospital 3 weeks. 185
47-49 Pilot and General Manager for New Holland Airways, Sydney. Refer New Holland Airways chronology above
Captain on Lodestar, DC-5 and DC-3 on migrant charters from Italy and Greece to Sydney. His title was Operations Manager at the time the
company ceased operations in 1949. 82
7.49 Howitt took over New Holland Airways’ remaining aircraft, the Lodestar VH-GRB, grounded at Bankstown
16.8.49 DCA transferred NHAW’s charter licence to R.W. Howitt, Sydney.
27.2.50 Captain Ron Howitt was pilot of Curtis-Madsen Airlines Hudson at Temora
50-51 Howitt is Operations Manager and Chief Pilot for Overland Air Services Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
Lodestar VH-GRB purchased by OAS August 1950, reregistered VH-OAS, scheduled passenger services from Sydney to Cootamundra, West Wyalong, Temora, Lake Cargelligo, Condobolin.
9.52 OAS has ceased operations and is in liquidation
52 Captain Ron Howitt is Lodestar pilot for Fawcett Aviation’s Air Cargo Pty Ltd, Bankstown. Flew cargo from Sydney to Melbourne and Hobart on behalf of Trans-Australia Airlines also cargo and passenger charters.
52-58 Managing Director of Aviation Sales Pty Ltd, Mascot NSW: aircraft sales and Beech agents.
28.11.52 Howitt of Aviation Sales Pty Ltd at Mascot purchased Lodestar VH-FAB from Fawcett Aviation, Sydney. Howitt delivered it to Saigon, French Indo China, with engineer Jack Chignell. Sale contract included instruction of pilots and engineers on the Lodestar at Saigon. Became F-OALK.
22.9.55 Aviation Sales Pty Ltd, Mascot purchased DH.60M Moth VH-UQV. Sold 12.1.59 to Titus Oates
10.56 Aviation Sales Pty Ltd purchased DC-3 VH-BNH ex Butler Air Transport. Sold to USA as N55L.
.56 Aviation Sales Pty Ltd, Mascot are Australian Beechcraft agents. Imported Australia’s first Beech 35 Bonanza VH-CWR. In following years brokered imports of Bonanzas and Twin Bonanzas.
5.60 Aviation Sales Pty Ltd sold 3 ex RAAF C-47s to overseas air forces after overhauls at Bankstown by Fawcett Aviation: VH-CDA and CDC to Israel, VH-CDB to Cambodia.
70 By now Ron Howitt had left aviation and was running a takeaway food shop in Newport, Sydney. Greg Board tried to find him when he returned to Sydney from USA but Howitt had sold the shop and moved on. 83
5.12.11 Ron Howitt died at Lady Small Haven Retirement Village, Benowa Queensland, aged 89. 164
|Jack Hurst: |
8.47 British pilot Captain A. J. Hurst was an ex RAF with over 3,000 hours when engaged in England by Warren Penny for Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney. He mostly flew Hudson VH-ASV. When Penny sold VH-ASV to American citizen Francis Grigware in April 1948, Hurst continued flying the Hudson for Grigware. Refer company chronologies above.
9.9.47 Hurst carried as passenger Sydney-London on Hudson VH-ASV
3.48 Captain of VH-ASV when delayed at Rangoon on ICAT’s last migrant charter
16.5.48 Hurst departed Darwin for Rome in Grigware's Hudson VH-ASV to collect last of ICAT’s migrants
48 VH-ASV operated in Burma where Hurst “got into lots of trouble in Burma” 12 Refer The Burma Connection above
49 Hurst ferried an Australian Hudson to Israel, (believed either VH-BFQ or VH-BIA)
49 Declined a contract to fly as pilot for Israel Air Force
Kenneth Clinton Dudley Lockyer 52, 144, 145
43/44 Captain for Australian National Airways, mostly flew Lockheed Lodestars on military courier services Brisbane-Townsville
47/49 Captain for Guinea Air Traders, flew GAT DC-3s on migrant runs from Europe 45
12.8.49 Lockyer defied DCA orders not to continue from Darwin to Sydney with 28 migrants he had flown from Rome in GAT DC-3 G-AKNB. He arrived in Sydney to press publicity about the plight of migrants being abandoned at Darwin.
24.10.49 Captain Lockyer fined £10 for breaches of the Air Navigation Regulations over this flight. GAT fined £50. DCA did not suspend his pilot licence
6.50 Joined Union of Burma Airways as DC-3 Captain. He was still flying with UBA in 1952.
William T. Mellor was a British commercial pilot
8.47 Captain Bill Mellor flew Lockheed Lodestar ZS-BAJ owned by Mitchell Cotts, on long range flights from South Africa. A report of ZS-BAJ refuelling at RAF Benina, Benghazi, Libya on 22 August 1947 states that it was owned by Mitchell Cotts and named "St George" and was usually flown by Bill Mellor. 108
10.47 Captain W.T. Mellor was hired in England by Warren Penny as pilot for Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney
and became Operations Manager of ICAT in 1948
11.47 Mellor flew ICAT’s DH.86 G-ADYH from London to Sydney on inaugural migrant flight.
12.47 Mellor flew ICAT’s Lodestar G-AGBU from London on its first trip to Sydney.
1.48 Captain W.T. Mellor was Operations Manager for IAT
11.48 W. T. Mellor was again pilot for Mitchell Cotts’ Lodestar ZS-BAJ, which regularly visits London from South Africa. Bill Mellor spoke with British historian John Havers on 23 November 1948 while refueling in the Middle East in ZS-BAJ. Mentioned his flying for Intercontinental Air Tours. 44
Percy Michelson was a British commercial pilot . In 1947 he claimed 7,000 hours experience.
10.47 Captain Percy Michelson was employed in England by Warren Penny as a pilot for Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney.
He made a financial investment in ICAT.
12.47 He was copilot with Penny on ICAT Lodestar G-AGBU’s first migrant flight London-Rome-Athens-Cyrus-Sydney. On arrival at Sydney, Penny sacked Michelson due to his operational short-comings identified on the flight. Penny organised him employment with an aircraft maintenance business at Bankstown (probably Intercontinental Aircraft Maintenance). Michelson took over ownership of G-AGBU in leiu of his financial investment in the company.
9.4.48 Warren Penny obtained Michelson’s approval to use Lodestar G-AGBU on a charter to search for a missing yacht at sea off Coffs Harbour NSW, pilots Penny and Michelson.
49-50 Michelson living in Wollongong NSW/ He is a pilot and financial partner with Walter E. James in Wollongong and South Coast Air Service, Wollongong and subsidiary South Coast Airways. South Coast flew scheduled Avro Anson passenger services Sydney to Wollongong and later to Cowra.
5.49 A Sydney court awarded Michelson £858 against Penny for unpaid salary specified in his 10.47 employment contract.
50 G-AGBU purchased by Doug Fawcett, Fawcett Aviation, Bankstown (Fawcett states he purchased the Lodestar from a Mr. Laurie Middlemiss) 10
4.9.50 Captain Michelson flew a South Coast Airways Anson on inaugural service Cowra-Sydney. Press reports quoted Michelson as having 7,000 hours experience.
8.12.50 Captain Michelson made forced landing near Katoomba NSW on a South Coast Airways Anson service from Sydney to Cowra, with 9 passengers. He landed in a cleared field with no damage.
15.3.51 Captain Michelson was pilot of South Coast Airways Lockheed 10B VH-UZO when undercarriage collapsed when taxying for departure at Wollongong, minor damage.
10.12.51 Lodestar G-AGBU added Australian register as VH-FAD to South Coast Airways Pty Ltd, Wollongong.
DCA file quotes “legal owners of aircraft are Fawcett Aviation Pty Ltd”. Australian CofA overhaul at Bankstown by Fawcett, test-flown and CofA issued on 10.12.51.
12.51 South Coast Airways introduced Lodestar VH-FAD on its passenger services from Sydney to Wollongong, Cowra and
West Wyalong, fitted with seating for 18 passengers, 2 crew and a hostess.
8.53 South Coast Airways was taken over by East West Airlines. South Coast’s Lodestar VH-FAD and Lockheed 10B VH-UZO were not included in sale. Lodestar lease from Fawcett Aviation, Bankstown ended.
|Bryan Monkton: 1, 61, 92|
Captain Bryan Arundel Wills Monkton
His biography is high recommended: The Boats I Flew, Australian Aviation Museum, Bankstown 2005
3.4.18 Born as Bryan Monk at Canterbury, Melbourne
.31 Moved to England with his father, then returned to Australia in 1933
34 Partner in Skyways Ltd, Brisbane. B.W.Monk flew Skyways' DH.9 VH-UHT in the Brisbane-Adelaide Air Race December 1934
.35 While studying law at Adelaide University, commenced flying training with Royal Aero Club of SA and gained his private, then commercial pilot licence
.37 Employed as an instructor by Royal Aero Club of NSW at Mascot
2.39 By now Chief Flying Instructor of Royal Aero Club of NSW at Mascot
1.9.39 Enlisted in RAAF with rank Pilot Officer. First posting No. 22 Squadron Richmond, Wirraways and Demons
40 Instructing at Wagga, Deniliquin and Central Flying School at Camden
.41 Posted to England with No. 254 Squadron, flying Hurricanes. With Japan’s entry into the war, after only two months in England he was posted back to Australia
.41 No. 41 Squadron Townsville on Short Empires and Dornier Do 24s then Martin Mariners.
26.3.42 Flt Lt. B.W. Monk was temporary CO of 33 Squadron until 8.4.42
29.6.42 Bryan changed his surname from the family name Monk to Monkton.
11.43 S/Ldr Monkton ferried RAAF Martin Mariner A70-7 from Banana River Naval Air Station, Florida to Australia, arrived No.1 Flying Boat Repair Depot at Lake Boga, Victoria 29.11.43. He was immediately sent back to Florida for another Mariner ferry.
1.44 Ferried RAAF Martin Mariner A70-10 from Florida to Australia, arrived 1FBRD Lake Boga mid January 1944
.44 No. 43 Squadron flying Catalinas in Pacific, Borneo, Philippines and Taiwan, including mine laying.
24.9.45 Discharged from RAAF
.46 Chief Flying Instructor with Royal Aero Club of NSW at Mascot
10.46 Monkton and his good friend Stewart Middlemiss, also recently demobbed from RAAF Catalina service, went to RAAF Rathmines to inspect Catalinas and Sunderlands listed for disposal by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Middlemiss purchased two Catalinas for his newly formed company Barrier Reef Airways, and Monkton was to purchase with borrowed funds all 5 RAAF Sunderlands and spares stocks for a total price of £6,000.
24.2.47 Founded a new company Trans Oceanic Airways, Rose Bay, Sydney. Monkton ferried each Sunderland Rathmines-Rose Bay where three were converted to civil airliners, equivalent to the BOAC Hythe class.
29.5.47 TOA commenced charter operations with VH-AKO Australis flying to Tulagi, Solomon Islands. Flights to the New Hebrides, other Pacific islands and Lord Howe island followed. The first scheduled airline services were Sydney to Lord Howe Island. With Monkton as Managing Director & Chief Pilot, TOA expanded to fly scheduled services from Sydney to Grafton, Port Moresby and Hobart. Sunderlands were replaced by Short Solents. Qantas Empire Airways lobbied strongly to block each TOA route licence.
27.8.49 Qantas Catalina VH-EAW sank at its moorings at night at Rose Bay when a time bomb exploded. At the time Monkton was involved in a bitter dispute with Qantas over access to TOA routes, and was later charged by police. The trial before a jury found him not guilty. Suspicion fell on a TOA employee sacked by Monkton, but no further legal action followed. Monkton’s personal reputation was seriously tarnished for some years.
.51 TOA’s flying boat services suffered mounting financial loss due competition from Qantas DC-4s on the Port Moresby route, and Ansett, ANA and TAA on the Hobart route. Refinancing TOA brought new management, which caused tensions, resulting in Monkton being forced to resign from the airline he formed.
51-52 Monkton flew Sandringhams for Barrier Reef Airways, Brisbane
29.11.51 Cable to DCA from aircraft brokers W. S. Shackleton Ltd, London advised they are supplying DH.89 Rapide G-AJSL to Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade, Cairns. It will be flown to Australia by Captain B.W.Monkton. However the sale was delayed, and a replacement Rapide G-ALNT was shipped out, to became VH-CFA.
7.52 Trans Oceanic Airways Pty Ltd ceased operations and went into liquidation
5.53 The assets of TOA (except the two surviving Short Solents) were purchased by Ansett Flying Boat Services, formed the previous year when Ansett Airways purchased Barrier Reef Airways, Brisbane. AFBS moved its base from Brisbane River to Rose Bay, Sydney to take over the TOA facilities. AFBS continued to fly Short Sandringhams from Rose Bay until 1975.
53-54 Monkton was a part-time instructor on Tiger Moths for Fawcett Aviation’s Illawarra Flying School at Bankstown
.53 Founded South Pacific Airlines, Honolulu in partnership with the US company Dollar Shipping Line, to operate scheduled passenger services between Honolulu and Tahiti. The two retired TOA Short Solents stored at Rose Bay were purchased for South Pacific Airlines.
12.5.54 Monkton departed Rose Bay delivering Short Solent N9946F (ex VH-TOB) to Honolulu to South Pacific Airlines.
15.5.55 Monkton departed Rose Bay delivering Short Solent N9945F (ex VH-TOD) to Honolulu to South Pacific Airlines.
.57 Captain Bryan Monkton flew a trial South Pacific Airlines flight Honololu-Christmas Island-Papeete-return and optimism was high. Before the first scheduled service the British Government withdrew approval to use Christmas Island as an essential refuelling stop because of a planned series of British nuclear bomb tests not previously disclosed to the airline. Without that refuelling stop the Tahiti service could not commence. Monkton ferried both Solents from Honolulu to Oakland, California where they were later sold to Howard Hughes.
.57 Monkton returned to Sydney deeply disappointed over the failure of SPAL. He accepted a contract to ferry five TAA DC-3s which had been sold to West African Airways at Lagos, Nigeria. Monkton captained each delivery over 4 months with a different copilot each trip.
c58 Delivered a Douglas DC-3 from Sydney to USA with 4 extra fuel tanks in cabin.
25.9.58 Departed San Francisco in Beech 50 Twin Bonanza N565B on delivery to Connellan Airways, via Beech agents Aviation Sales Ltd, Sydney. Arrived Sydney on 5 October 1958, aircraft became VH-CLA.
.59 Monkton took a European Summer contract to Captain Douglas DC-4s for a British independent airline
.59 Monkton replaced an American Captain on a US registered Douglas DC-4 for American owner Dan Walcott for twelve Hadj flights from Iran to Jedda with Muslim pilgrims. Monkton carried a total of 900 Hadjis.
.59 Contract to fly Douglas DC-6s for Nordair, Copenhagen
4.60 Began a contract with Sabena as Captain on Douglas DC-7s
7.60 Now based Leopoldville, in newly independent Democratic Republic of Congo flying DC-4s and a DC-6 for Sabena affiliate company Air Congo.
.61 Commenced a new contract with British independent airline Starways, based Elisabethville, Congo flying as Captain on 3 Douglas DC-4s with large “ONU” titles. Adventurous and dangerous flying, often from marginal airstrips during civil uprisings and tribal fighting.
16.9.61 His DC-4 G-APIN was destroyed by fire at Kamina, Congo after being straffed by Fouga Magister of the Katangan Air Force. Monkton was hospitalised with shrapnel wounds.
11.61 Released from hospital in Brussels. Sent to United National HQ in New York by Starways to give evidence at a UN hearing in an attempt to gain compensation for the destroyed DC-4.
3.62 Commenced a contract with a Lebanese company flying Douglas DC-4s on a UN contract in Congo.
.62 Monkton left the Congo and returned to Australia
3.63 Delivered ex Indian Airlines DH.114 Heron VT-DHI from Delhi to Connellan Airways, Alice Springs. Became VH-CLT. Monkton remained with Connellan Airways for some time as Heron Captain while he
performed crew training and standardisation.
27.2.64 Monkton arrived Perth in Piaggio P.166 VH-MMP on delivery from England to MacRobertson Miller Airlines. He had departed England on 5 February 1964 and was delayed at Darwin and Broome with engine troubles. Crossing the Timor Sea between Timor and Darwin he had been forced to shut down an engine and was escorted to Darwin by a RAF Hastings and RAAF Dakota.
1.74 Captain B.A.W. Monkton formed a new company Marinair Pty Ltd, Sydney. The company planned to start an airline service from Sydney to Lord Howe Island when Ansett Flying Boat Services withdrew its Sandringhams later that year. Marinair Director Bryan Monkton was quoted in the press as planning to use turbine engined Grumman HU-16 Albatross amphibians, but may use a piston-engined Albatross while waiting for modified turbine models. The following month, the Grumman Corporation Vice President visited Sydney and Lord Howe Island and had talks with DCA over Turbo Albatross operations into Lord Howe Island. Nothing came of Marinair . 165
29.9.74 Bryan Monkton remarried in Sydney
28.11.74 Monkton departed Rose Bay as Captain of Short Sandringham N158C (ex VH-BRC) the second Ansett Sandringham delivered to Antilles Airboats at St Croix, US Virgin Islands. Antilles Airboats owner Charles Blair was copilot.
1.75 Monkton and his new wife left Sydney to live at St Croix, US Virgin islands take up a position of pilot with Antilles Air Boats. He flew the Sandringhams on Caribbean air cruises and Grumman Mallard and Goose amphibians on regular scheduled services between Caribbean islands. 114
5.81 Monkton captained Sunderland N158J (ex VH-BRF) from Christiansted, USVI to Marseilles, France for new British owner Edward Hulton. This aircraft had been stored since delivered to Antilles Air Boats because FAA would not certify it for airline use due to its non-factory conversion ex RNZAF Sunderland by Ansett Flying Boat Services at Rose Bay in 1964.
81 Monkton retired from flying, with total hours 25,489 hours, of which almost 10,000 hours were logged on flying boats. During that year he visited the Solent N9946F (ex VH-TOB) being rebuilt in San Francisco.
11.86 B.A.W. Monkton, 92 Pitt Street, Sydney has been appointed by the Bermuda Government as Australasian and South West Pacific Director at the Bermuda Department of Tourism.
29.5.03 Bryan Monkton died at Southern Highlands Private Hospital, aged 85 years.
|Aubrey “Titus” Oates 10, 129, 156-160, 167|
Aubrey John Raymond Oates DFC
50-56: Good Intent Hotel, Campbelltown, Sydney
56-57: 9 Veda Street, Hamilton NSW
58-59: Royal Hotel, Bathurst NSW
61-66: 13 Malo Road, Whale Beach NSW
22.11.22 Born Newcastle NSW, schooled at Barker College, Sydney
39 Prewar flying on Fairchild 24, Hornet Moth, Piper Cub, Moth Minor
26.3.40 Enlisted in RAAF: training at 4FTS Mascot, 1SFTS Point Cook, 1ANS Parkes
26.2.41 Promoted from Pilot Officer to Flying Officer
14.4.41 Central Flying School, Camden
23.7.41 3SFTS Amberley
1.4.42 Promoted to Flight Lieutenant
10.8.42 General Reconnaissance School, Cressy
6.10.42 1OTU Bairnsdale
7.11.42 Beaufort A9-5 flown by Oates struck power wires when low flying near Marlo Victoria. Minor damage.
18.12.42 14 Sqn Pearce
24.9.43 6 Sqn Turnbull, Papua (Beauforts)
26.10.43 6 Sqn Goodenough Island, Papua (Beauforts)
Doug Fawcett was a DAP inspector sent to Goodenough Island to support the maintenance of RAAF Beauforts. He later wrote:
"I was a good friend of Aubrey Oates. Often we would join forces and make up a poker game with two other men. In fact, it was through our poker games that I got to know why he was called Titus. It was not because of his namesake (the gallant Arctic explorer), but just that he was very tight with his money.
One night I had just joined a game of two-up when Titus drove up in a jeep. He was off on a mission to Rabaul and, on an impulse, I decided to go with him. In fact I would often fly as an observer on test flights after some major maintenance on an aircraft, to check that the faults had been rectified. I grabbed my warm gear and parachute from the nearby hangar. (Description of flight in formation with 2 other Beauforts) During the flight he talked on the intercom to the crew about last minute checks, the weather, the last briefing etc. Although he was a determined man, he was also quite jovial and and always seemed to have a new joke to tell. On arrival over Rabaul, there was little opposition, though quite a few tracers were seen. Titus did his low-level bombing run with a dogged look on his reddish shiny face. The crewman in the cupola up front gave the signal and the 500 pounders were dropped.
I flew a number of submarine patrols, both day and night, while stationed at 6 Squadron, but the flights with Titus are the ones I remember best. They were carried out with such professionalism and bravado. There was a special air about him. Titus seemed a cut above the others and his sense of timing was remarkable. I can still see his gloved hands moving around the cockpit operating the various controls, with a slow rhythm, rather like an orchestra conductor." 10
1.44 F/Lt A.J.R. Oates awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions 16.11.43 in a shipping attack in Beaufort A9-402
1.7.44 Promoted to Squadron Leader
6.7.44 6 Sqn CO’s assessment: “This officer is an excellent pilot who has completed an outstanding flying tour. He is however intolerant in his dealings with subordinates and before he can qualify for additional responsibilities must learn to curb his impatience “
14.10.44 5 OTU Williamtown
24.11.44 Discharged from RAAF at the officer’s request, to resume civil career
2.45 Oates employed by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd, Bansktown, Sydney as a DH. Mosquito production test pilot.
15.8.45 V-J Day: Oates flew a Mosquito at low altitude over Sydney during V-J Day celebrations.
46 Married Jacqueline Sonia Lewis at Woollahra, Sydney
9.47 Oates signs documents as temporary Manager of Interstate Air Services Pty Ltd, Mascot: airline service Sydney to Jervis Bay, using Avro Ansons
16.10.47 Oates purchased Comper Swift VH-ACG ex Light Aircraft Pty Ltd (Denzel MacArthur-Onslow) which had been dismantled during the war, CofA renewed 24.10.47. Aircraft log book shows that Oates based it at Camden, flown regularly between Mascot and Bankstown during 1948-49. Comper was sold October 1950.
1.48 Oates was reported at Darwin and Calcutta while flying a Lodestar to Rome on a migrant charter (operator unknown).
28.1.50 Advertisement in Sydney Morning Herald newspaper for the Good Intent Hotel, Campbelltown:
“Every comfort and modern convenience. Beautiful surroundings. 35 miles from Sydney. Handy Golf, Polo Cross, Horse Riding.
For bookings A.J.R. Oates, Proprietor. Phone…..”
24.10.50 A.J.R.Oates, Good Intent Hotel, Campbelltown, Sydney purchased Percival Gull VH-CCM with expired CofA at Parafield. Ferried to Bankstown, CofA renewed 12.12.51 by Morris Air Service. Sold April 1952.
.52 Purchased Ryan STM VH-AHE with expired CofA ex Newcastle Aero Club. Ferried from Newcastle to Camden for CofA
renewal overhaul. Testflown 5 November 1952, and restored to Register November 1952 to T.A.Tulloh, Cobar NSW
10.9.52 Minister for Air, William McMahon announced that a surplus Mosquito would be made available to Sqn Ldr Oates DFC
for the 1953 London-Christchurch Air Race. Mosquito PR.41 VH-KLG registered to A. J. R. Oates on 23.9.53 ex A52-324.
Entered in race as #6, painted allover red, main sponsor KLG Spark Plugs. While en-route to England to the starting point Oates made a forced landing in a coastal swamp near Mergui, Burma on 4.10.53 when lost and low on fuel. Oates and copilot/navigator Flt Lt Doug Swain were both injured when thrown out of the cockpit on impact, but rescued. Oates was described in newspaper reports as a hotel publican.
11.53 Oates attempted to purchase Jimmy Woods' Mosquito VH-WAD, which had been withdrawn from the 1953 London to
Christchurch Air Race when a key sponsor reneged and was parked at Perth Airport. The sale was not completed due to restrictions in the agreement for the free issue of the RAAF Mosquito to Woods.
22.7.54 Oates purchased DH.87A Hornet Moth VH-UUW to be his entry in the 1954 REDeX Air Trial in August. The aircraft was painted with large “Associated Television City, Sydney” slogans.
26.7.54 Press report: Aubrey Oates has sold his Hotel Austra in Camden NSW “to enter television production in Australia”
1.8.54 Oates departed Bankstown in VH-UUW in the 1954 REDeX Air Trial, route via Brisbane, Townsville, Darwin, Alice Springs, Adelaide, Wagga, Sydney. He was originally awarded 2nd place but after an appeal he was unplaced. VH-UUW sold September 1954.
2.55 Oates flew a “Moth” (probably a borrowed Tiger Moth) over the extensive Maitland Floods, carrying professional photographer Ern McQuillan. It was reported that Titus Oates had flown McQuillan on photographic sorties for 4 years.
4.55 Oates & Lionel Van Praag ferried ex Fawcett Aviation Lodestar ZK-BJM (ex VH-FAD) to NZ when sold to Fieldair. Both pilots stayed on in NZ to train local pilots on the Lodestar which was to be used for low-level agricultural flying.
27.6.56 Purchased Percival Proctor VH-BQQ. Sold January 1957.
56 Oates was engaged as an agricultural Tiger Moth pilot for Fawcett Aviation subsidiary Farm Air Pty Ltd.
Doug Fawcett recalls that Oates flew night dusting on moonlight nights to get jobs finished earlier, using marker men on ground with torches, which was not approved by DCA at the time.
23.12.56 Wreckage of Sydney Morning Herald Lockheed Hudson VH-SML (missing since 14.9.54, Captain Doug Swain, Oates' copilot/navigator for the air race Mosquito) was sighted by a searching Butler Air Transport crew, north of Dungong NSW. Oates landed his Tiger Moth on top of a nearby mountain ridge and circled the crash site to aid a ground party.
57 Oates proposed purchase of two new E.P.9s for a new agricultural business being established Skyspread Ltd, Sydney. He made the purchase arrangements for the aircraft on the company's behalf and recommended they be flown to Australia rather than shipping delays. Oates engaged fellow Sydney pilot James “Wac” Whiteman to fly the second E.P.9 on delivery.
To reduce costs, the pair crewed one of five TAA DC-3s being ferried to Lagos, Nigeria after sale to West African Airways Corp. Bryan Monkton had the contract to deliver them from Melbourne to Lagos and was captain on each flight with different copilots. From Lagos, Oates and Whiteman went by airline to London.
While waiting for the new E.P.9s to be tested at the factory, the entrepreneurial Oates located three Australians in London, desperate for a cheap flight home plus cargo to offset the ferry costs. Despite Whiteman’s E.P.9 carrying all the spare parts included in the E.P.9 purchase, Oates allocated him two female passengers and a racing car engine. Oates would take the third passenger plus other cargo.
28.10.57 Whiteman and Oates departed Croydon in E.P.9s G-APIA & G-APIB on the delivery flight to Sydney. Whiteman aborted his first takeoff attempt because he was too heavy. He had the racing car engine off-loaded, then the two aircraft set off in loose formation. It was agreed that Whiteman would be responsible for navigation and Oates would stay in visual contact. Neither aircraft was fitted with radio.
Refuelling stops were: Roanne, Lyon, Marseilles, Roma, Araxas, Athens, Rhodes, Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Basra, Bahrein, Mauraeva, Karachi, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Calcutta, Chittagong, Rangoon, Mergui, Butterworth, Penang, Singapore, Palembang, Djakarta, Soerabaya, Denpasar, Koepang, Darwin, Tennant Creek, Cloncurry, Charleville, Dalby, Archerfield, Newcastle, Bankstown. The trip took three weeks and included being forced to land at Damascus by military jets and the aircraft searched.
At the last stop at Newcastle, Oates off-loaded the aircraft spares collection, and changed into a fresh suit for interviews with media he had arranged to meet their arrival at Bankstown.
The E.P.9s were registered VH-FBY & FBZ. Whiteman remained with Skyspread as a cropdusting pilot. However Oates was taken to court by the company over costs he claimed for the delivery flight and to gain access to the E.P.9 spare parts he off-loaded at Newcastle.
.58 CAC Mustang A68-100 purchased ex RAAF disposals: ferried by Oates ex storage RAAF Tocumwal to Bankstown c4.58.
Sold to Fawcett Aviation .60 as VH-BOW ntu.
.58 CAC Mustang A68-187 purchased ex RAAF disposals: ferried by Oates ex storage RAAF Tocumwal to Bankstown c4.58.
Sold to Adastra Aerial Surveys, Sydney .60
.58 CAC Mustang A68-107 purchased ex RAAF disposal: ferried by Oates ex storage RAAF Tocumwal to Bankstown c4.58.
Registered VH-AUB 4.9.58 to A. J. R. Oates, Bathurst NSW. Painted pillarbox red, initially based at Bathurst, later Bankstown.
Aubrey Oates with his red Mustang VH-AUB in 1958.58 CAC Mustang A68-104 purchased ex Taren Point Non Ferrous Metals, Sydney: ferried by Oates ex storage RAAF Tocumwal to Bankstown. Sold to Adastra Aerial Surveys, Sydney .60
.58 CAC Mustang A68-199 purchased ex R. H. Grant Scrap Metals: ferried by Oates ex storage RAAF Tocumwal to Bankstown.
Sold to Fawcett Aviation .60 became VH-BOZ
11.58 Gloster Meteor F8 A77-868 purchased ex RAAF disposals: ferried RAAF Richmond to Bankstown 7.12.58.
Offered for sale by owner A. J. R. Oates asking £10,000: magazine advertisement: "Graziers who want to make a quick trip into town would find the jet invaluable". By 2.60 price had dropped to £1000. In 8.60 traded to Sydney Technical College, Ultimo in exchange for two Spitfires: MV154 instructional airframe and MV239 still crated.
12.1.59 Purchased DH.60M VH-UQV ex Aviation Sales Pty Ltd (Ron Howitt). Sold 15.5.60.
59 Oates was engaged by Fawcett Aviation, Bankstown as a pilot for target towing Mustangs on contract to Austraian Army.
Doug Fawcett in his book "Pilots & Propellers" describes Titus often arriving late in the exercise area, delaying Army gunnery training contracts. "One dark evening when I was staying at the Chevon Hotel in Surfers Paradise, I heard the roar of what could only be a Mustang. The next moment one flew past about 100 feet above the hotel. The amazing thing about it was that the navigation lights were the wrong way around. I knew Titus had his own Mustang VH-AUB at Coolangatta Airport, and I guessed it was him, flying inverted over the hotel, probably trying to impress a young lady. This type of flying was severely frowned upon by the Department of Civil Aviation and they threw the book at him the next day. Although unruly, he was in my opinion, a very capable pilot, and even with his faults, he was a likable person. We did, however, find it necessary to use pilots over whom we had a little more control." 10
c59 Titus Oates flew cropdressing aircraft for Airland Improvements, Cootamundra NSW. At the time the company operated Tiger Moths, Fletcher FU24s, Cessna 180s. He is remembered at Cootamundra for rolling into town in his big green Pontiac convertible, in a era when imported cars were a rarity.
2.60 Oates and Brian “Blackjack” Walker volunteered to ferry two RAAF disposals Wirraways purchased by Ray Causer, Sydney from storage at RAAF Mallala SA to Bankstown. Just prior to the planned date early February 1960, Oates was unavailable and Gerry Lawson, a RAAF No.24 Squadron pilot at Mallala, volunteered. Walker departed 20.2.60 in A20-704, followed by Lawson in A20-664 the next day, refueling at Mildura and Griffith.
DCA refused to certify the Wirraways as civil aircraft and both were later sold to Airfarm Associates at Tamworth NSW for parts for their CA-28 Ceres fleet. 173
5.61 Spitfire Mk.VIIIc MV154 seen at Bankstown, assembled, ex Sydney Technical College. Oates was quoted as saying it was to become a memorial to RAF Battle of Britain pilots, but nothing further came of that. Spitfire MV239 was sold by Oates to Sid Marshall and by 5.61 was assembled in Marshall Airways hangar Bankstown, then moved to his storage yard on Bankstown airfield boundary 28.5.61.
MV154 also later acquired by Marshall.
29.4.63 Oates test flew his Mustang VH-AUB at Moorabbin Vic, where it had been parked for 14 months after maintenance by Civil Flying Services. He departed for Bankstown on 3.5.63 whch seems to be its last flight, retired at Bankstown in open weather until 1966. Sold to Ewan McKay of “Rosedale” Station, Jericho, Queensland. VH-AUB was dismantled and left by road in April 1966 for Queensland, where it was reassembled on McKay’s property, retaining the red paint scheme. Sold to Col Pay, Scone NSW in 1978 and restored to fly as RAAF A68-107.
c65 Aubrey Oates remarried Barbara Lang in Sydney. They had four children Quentin, Ranville, Gabrielle and Hugh.
.68 Flew for Air America Inc, based in Laos and Cambodia.
70 Military flying instructor with Republic of Singapore Air Force
31.7.71 High Court of the Republic of Singapore: writ of seizure and sale by plaintiff Mercantile Bank Ltd versus Aubrey John Raymond Oates and Barbara Helen Oates, regarding one Pontiac Parisienne motorcar.
9.8.71 High Court of the Republic of Singapore: Bankruptcy Ordinance: Aubrey John Raymond Oates to pay the sum of $11,290 as final judgment obtained by Bank of America against Oates on 9.2.71.
c74 Moved from Singapore to Africa, flew general aviation and agricultural aircraft
70s Reports circulated among Oates’ associates in Australia claiming he was killed in a crop-dusting crash in Africa, or, more colourfully, stabbed to death by an Arab in the Middle East. It was also suggested that he arranged to have his own spurious death notices published in Australian newspapers to discourage parties interested in his location.
1979 Aubrey Oates died of a heart attack in Zambia.
|Warren Penny: 1,11, 50,49, 58, 65,142, 186|
Henry Warren Grindrod Penny, Sydney
31.7.29 Warren Penny, Sydney purchased Avro Avian VH-UKD from Australian Avro agent Edgar Percival.
30.9.29 Penny departed Mascot in Avian VH-UKD as Race Number 20 in the East-West Air Race to Perth, arrived Perth 5.10.29. Penny remained in WA using the address of his parents’ farm at Chidlow WA. The Civil Aviation Branch had a running dispute with Penny in WA over various issues. A CAB internal memo complains that Penny flies his Avian away from Perth just prior to each visit by a CAB inspector from Melbourne. (Perth had no resident Inspector at that time).
An internal CAB report March 1930 describes Penny, who did not have a commercial pilot licence, as “a gipsy joy rider who spends his time at WA country towns taking up unsuspecting public for a fee”. 78
4.30 Flew the Avian back to Sydney, repossessed in July 1930 by new Avro agents Harkness & Hillier.
.30 Due to the Depression, Penny sailed to California steerage class looking for flying work.
31 Back at the family farm “Malmalling” Chidlow WA and hired DH.60M Moth VH-UPD from Perth bus operator Mr.J.J.Thorpe.
On one occasion he flew his younger brother Pat to school in Perth, landing the Moth on the school sports ground.
5.31 Testflew the Ford Silver Centenary biplane at Beverly WA where it had been built by Selby Ford. Penny took it on a tour of local towns. The aircraft was refused a CofA by CAB due lack of engineering design drawings.
10.31 Warren Penny joined 2UE Sydney as radio announcer, later with 2CH, 3AW, 4BK through to 1936
8.34 Sailed for California again. Entered the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race London-Melbourne, quoting a Vultee V-1A aircraft. Vultee assigned him a V-1A off the production line at Glendale (c/n 5 with 750 hp Wright Cyclone) but Penny was unable to raise required finance and was forced to withdraw. (Vultee V-1A c/n 5 went to American Airlines as NC13767 but crashed in Texas 29.1.36 causing American to withdraw its fleet of ten Vultee V-1As, which were eventually shipped to the Spanish Republicans and used during the Spanish civil war)
2.35 Penny arrived back in Sydney by sea after stowing away on a liner from New York to London.
35/36 Flew joyrides most weekends at Mascot for Kingsford Smith Flying Services in Avro 10 VH-UMG owned by Australian Transcontinental Airways Ltd. Often flew Curtiss Robin VH-UJE on joyriding at Mascot for owner S. L. “Pop” Tyler.
21.11.36 Penny was pilot of Avro Ten VH-UMG when it crashed landing Mascot after being struck by wind squall while operating joyrides. Port wing tip struck the ground, aircraft cartwheeled across the aerodrome and was wrecked. 3 of the 7 passengers were treated for minor injuries.
12.36 Flying joyrides at Mascot in Avro 10 VH-UXX owned by Eastern Air Transport, Sydney
36 Instructor on Aeronca C-3s VH-UXU and VH-UXV imported by G. B. S. Faulkiner, Sydney
36-38 Flew for Southern Airlines and Freighters Ltd on scheduled service Sydney-Broken Hill. Fleet included Codock, Tugan Gannet, Waco YKS-6, DH90, Monospar. Numerous forced landings.
38 Flew as instructor and charter pilot for Airflite Pty Ltd, Mascot: Ryan STA and Cessna C34
26.2.38 Flew experienced parachutist Miss Jean Burns on jump from Airlite's Cessna C34 VH-UYG at Mascot.
18.4.38 Emergency landing in Airflite Cessna C34 VH-UYG at Old Bar NSW with 3 passengers
38-39 Pilot for Marshall Airways, Mascot and regularly flew Marshall’s Short Scion VH-UUP on aerial ambulance flights to NSW country towns.
.39 Sailed to NZ to join Union Airways as Commander on D.H.86s and D.H.84s
9.39 Penny back in Sydney: leased DH.60G Moth VH-UAE from C. S. Richards, Sydney to conduct flying training under the name Warren Penny Flying School, Mascot. Richards sold UAE in December 1939
10.39 Penny leased Avro Avian VH-UHC from Mrs. Amy Madden, Sydney for Warren Penny Flying School, Mascot. Avian tipped on nose Mascot 29 October 1939 due undercarriage structural failure, pilot Penny with student. Avian repaired, retired at Mascot due wartime flying restrictions.
10.39 Leased Avro Avian VH-UHZ from Paul Burton, Sydney for Warren Penny Flying School, which operated at Mascot on weekends and Cooma on week days:
4.11.39 prop damaged on takeoff at Raymond Terrace NSW
16.11.39 tailskid damaged at Cooma NSW
9.12.39 undercarriage collapsed landing Mascot
15.1.40 Penny made forced landing in Avian VH-UHZ at Bungendore NSW due engine failure.
4.40 Warren Penny Flying School ceased operations due Government fuel rationing for civil flying.
5.40 Enlisted in RAAF. First posting to Central Flying School, Camden for instructor training
9.40 8EFTS Narrandera
5.41 3SFTS Amberley
10.41 6SFTS Mallala
4.42 1SFTS Point Cook
7.42 3 Communications Flight Mascot
4.43 Central Flying School Tamworth as instructor
8.43 33 Squadron, Port Moresby, Milne Bay (acting CO)
.44 3Wireless Air Gunner School, Bundaberg (CFI then CO)
12.44 38 Squadron: C-47 courier runs to Hollandia, Noemfoor, Biak, Morotai
11.45 Discharged at rank Squadron Leader
46 Penny applied for pilot position with Qantas Empire Airways in Sydney but withdrew his application when he was told that he would have to spend three years as copilot on DC-3s. despite his 3,000 command hours on RAAF Dakotas. He decided on a new career in shipping.
46 Established Hervey Bay Boat Co at Maryborough QLD with an 86 feet timber freighter vessel Erina II which he purchased at auction at Garden Island dockyards, Sydney. It was refitted in Sydney and a full crew hired for the trip to Hervey Bay, carrying Penny, his wife Mone and his father who had financed the business. In the hold were three small motor-boats he planned to base at Pialba. Commenced charters with Erina II with the hold converted to sleep 45 passengers. Won a contract to service light houses along Queensland coast, but after several months the business failed. Penny sold Erina II and joined a syndicate in Sydney named Consolidated Shipping Co which planned to establish a freighter shipping line to Singapore.
46 Penny sailed to England on Dominion Monarch, which was still configured as a troop ship, to locate a suitable vessel for their planned Singapore service. He was negotiating a price for a 10,000 ton vessel with a London shipbroker when he learnt the syndicate in Sydney had disbanded and he was stranded in London.
12.46 Purchased Percival Proctor 1 G-AIEF in London and flew it back to Australia for resale. Departed England 28 December 1946 and arrived at Mascot on 3 February 1947 and immediately advertised it for sale, c/o Marshall Airways. Sold, became VH-SMS in May 1947.
Enroute on arrival at Karachi, Penny had parked the Proctor as instructed by the airport officials. He was confronted by red haired Qantas Captain Ron "Torchy" Uren aggressively demanding he move to clear a path for Uren's Qantas Avro Lancastrian. Penny had earlier trained Uren to fly at the Warren Penny Flying School at Mascot in 1939 and resented his high-handed attitude, so refused to move. After an argument befitting both mens' temperaments, Penny was satisfied and moved his Proctor.
Warren Penny (left) with his Proctor G-AIEF at RAAF Tocumwal on 27 February 1947. Penny had flown
Stan Godden and Greg Board from Sydney to inspect a RAAF Lodestar offered for disposal.
2.47 Penny was bidding for one retired RAAF Hudson from Commonwealth Disposals Commission for his planned air charter company. He was asked by the former RAAF aircrew who had just formed a new Sydney freight company Aircarriers Pty Ltd to also purchase two Hudsons for them. When Penny was advised his bid for 3 Hudsons was successful and he had to pay immediately with 14 days to remove them from RAAF Richmond, Aircarriers principles advised they did not have funds to pay for their two Hudsons. Warren Penny sold them to his brother Raymond Penny who later resold both.
9.5.47 Appointed a Director of Aircarriers Pty Ltd, Sydney but resigned the position 17 days later. Aircarriers were preparing their only aircraft Handley Page Halifax bomber G-AGXA (flown from England by Geoffrey Wikner in June 1946) as a freighter. It became VH-BDT, flew one charter to Singapore in June 1947 then the company was liquidated after its return to Mascot. The Halifax was sold for scrap.
5.47 Warren Penny established Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney. Refer Intercontinental Air Tours chronology above
4.48 Intercontinental Air Tours ceased operations.
49-53 Penny was a pilot for Marshall Airways, Mascot, later Bankstown: Ansons, Dragon, Puss Moth, DC-2.
From Greg Banfield's unpublished history of Marshall Airways:
"On 9 February 1949 Warren Penny was called in to fly Marshall Airways Anson VH-AZX in a search for children missing in the Burragorang Valley. Further flying on ambulance work and carrying doctors to country towns followed and he struck a good deal of work over the next 15 months. Most of the ambulance trips in the Anson were to the western districts of NSW, although trips carring specialist doctors were largely to the northern part of the State. The work included many photography flights for the Press to obtain pictures which appeared on the front page of various newspapers of floods or visiting ships and such like, also charters carrying sheep and cattle buyers to sales around the country. When rail strikes paralysed NSW in 1949, Warren Penny carried mail to Brisbane and large quantities of freight to various places around the state. He flew a survey party to Kosciusko for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority in the Anson and made several trips over the mountains area with the group who were planning the construction of the dams and tunnels. When Nabiac was cut off by floodwaters, Warren did quite a few trips in the Puss Moth, flying supplies of food.
Using both the Puss Moth VH-UQB and the Anson VH-AZX, Warren Penny made a number of trips to Bega on behalf of Cams Trawlers, a firm of wholesale fish suppliers in Sydney. Cams were operating their vessels out of Eden and had continuous trouble with their crews, so Marshall Airways would fly seamen down to the little strip at Bega, where they would be met by cars, which took them to the ships while the sacked crew members would be flown back to Sydney. Pigeon racing became popular around this time and on 16 July 1949 Warren took a load of pigeons in Anson VH-AZX to West Wyalong, where they were released to race back to Sydney. This was so successful that he subsequently flew quite a number of trips to various places with loads of pigeons. The carriage of pigeons developed into the delivery of chickens and he did a number of flights carrying day-old chicks to Dubbo, Parkes and Young.
Warren Penny also flew Sid Marshall's Douglas DC-2 VH-CDZ on joyriding and charter work. Subsequently he hired aircraft from Marshall on a number of occasions. He hired the Puss Moth, Anson and Dragon at various times and used them for flood relief work, charters and joyriding." 121
5.7.49 Warren Penny test flew Fawcett Aviation's Lockheed Hudson VH-BDN at Camden on completion of a major overhaul. On 16.7.49 he flew the same Hudson from Camden to Cootamundra and return.
1.50 H.W.G. Penny declared Bankrupt due debts incurred by ICAT. Bankrupcy discharged in May 1956.
6.50 Established Inland Airways Pty Ltd, Broken Hill NSW, at request of five Wilcannia businessmen including the town mayor who financed the operation: Avro Anson VH-BMQ was purchased in June 1950 from Wagga Air Taxis. With Warren Penny as Chief Pilot, the company commenced scheduled services on 27 May 1950 on the route Bankstown-Dubbo-Ivanhoe-Wave Hill-Wilcannia, also between Wilcannia and Cobar and Broken Hill, and Wilcannia-Ivanhoe-Griffith. Due to lack of patronage, Inland Airways ceased operations only two months later on 19 July 1950 when the Anson was ferried back to Wagga. DCA reported: “One of the directors was Warren G. Penny. When he left the company, the set-up was very confused with no pilot and no operational experience.” 50
7.50 Commenced hay dropping sorties from Narrabri NSW to stock stranded by floods. Continued these operations over the next year, using Anson VH-BMQ and Marshall’s Anson VH-AZX and Dragon VH-AQU.
7.10.50 Departed Mascot in Marshall Airways Anson VH-AZX for Coffs Harbour participating in search for Auster Mk.3 VH-DAE which was missing enroute Coffs Harbour to Sydney on 4.10.50. Penny flew the Anson over the next six days. The Auster has never been located.
11.50 Commenced flood relief flights at Moree NSW for 4 months using Marshall Airways Dragon VH-AQU, carrying passengers between Moree and Narrabri where the railway line was still open, landing on the road just outside Moree.
50-52 Flew Lodestars VH-FAB and VH-FAC for Fawcett Aviation subsidiary Air Cargo Pty Ltd, Bankstown
3.51 Ferried Avro Anson VH-AYI from Tamworth following its sale by East West Airlines on 12.3.51 to Campbell-Hicks Airways, Condobolin NSW. The aircraft had an expired CofA at that time.
17.3.51 Warren Penny and Sid Marshall flew DC-2 VH-CDZ Mascot-Narrabri-Moree return to collect people stranded by floods. They did it again on 22 March, and a third DC-2 trip on 27 March was flown by Penny and Lionel Van Praag.
6.51 Penny established Air Centre, Narrabri NSW, financed by local graziers. Because he was an undischarged bankrupt, his wife’s name Mrs. Monica M. Penny appears in all company records. 177
Anson VH-AYI was purchased on 13 June 1951 for £1200 and flown by Penny on general passenger charters. On 3 July 1951 the Anson was hired to Mrs. Monica M.Penny, but no funds were received from the hire. Some months later the company was no longer trading. The Anson was sold in April 1952 for $300 to Robbys Aircraft, Parafield SA.
12.51 Penny was flying Lodestar VH-FAD for South Coast Airways, Sydney
7.52 Flew Marshall Airways Anson VH-AZX chartered to airlift 2000 sheep stranded by floods on an island of higher ground on a property near near Hillston NSW. He flew in men and fencing to erect a temporary stockyard, then commenced the short flights to nearby higher land, landing on the island and packing 52 sheep into the Anson each trip. He moved another 2000 sheep for another farmer. Penny flew 120 hours in the Anson on this charter.
15.8.52 Flew Marshall Airways Dragon VH-AQU from Sydney to Maree SA with a documentary movie crew.
1.53 Sailed for UK to seek airline work, joined Skyways Ltd, London. He was appointed Manager Middle East based at Nicosia, Cyprus to build up business for Skyways Avro Yorks mostly used on British military trooping contracts. Then sent to Singapore to develop similar work. He left Skyways in January 1956 and returned to Sydney.
3.56 Commenced 3 months of flood relief charters at Brewarrina NSW firstly with Auster VH-KAG hired from John Conley of Australian Aircraft Sales, Kings Cross. After several weeks of flying 7 days a week, the propeller came off the engine on takeoff from Bourke with 2 passengers. Penny landed the Auster safely and found the crankshaft had seized. He immediately took a Butler Air Transport DC-3 service to Sydney and arranged to hire Marshall Airways Avro Anson VH-AZX with which Penny carried loads of 52 sheep off flood islands. He also rescued stranded stockmen, on one occasion landing alongside a group of 12 men and 3 dogs, which he flew out with the men standing together at the front of the cabin. When the Anson reached its hours before overhaul, Sid Marshall and his engineer Jack Davidson flew another Marshall Airways Anson VH-ASM to Narromine where they switched over and took AZX back to Bankstown. By the time ASM ran
out of hours, Sid had finished AZX and brought it back to Narromine. Penny airlifte a total of 4,475 sheep in 15 minute runs.
10.3.57 Penny flew Marshall Airways DC-2 VH-CDZ to Canberra, chartered by newspaper proprietor Frank Packer for a meeting with the Prime Minister.
57 Flew Tiger Moth crop spraying in NSW for Fawcett Aviation subsidiary Farm Air Pty Ltd.
20.12.57 Borrowed Marshall Airways Anson VH-AZX to fly to Coolangatta for an airshow which Warren and his two brothers had organised for a charity. When strong winds threatened to spoil the airshow, Warren flew the aircraft so slowly into the stiff wind that the Anson was stationary in front of the crowd.
2.1.58 Penny regularly flew Dragon VH-AQU for Marshall Airways for 6 months, including joyrides at The Entrance.
3.60 Penny purchased D.H.84 Dragon VH-PSZ and delivered it to Sydney from Parafield on 15 March 1960:he established his own company Independent Air Charter, Box 22, Woollahra Sydney: advertised charter flights in Dragon, Lockheed 10B and other types.
60 Appointed Aviation Manager for C. H. Degotardi Air Services, Sydney: delivered their Lockheed 10B VH-CHD from Charleville Qld in July 1960, used for real estate land purchase flights and general charter
19.7.60 Penny was a passenger on TAA Electra VH-TLB Sydney-Brisbane when he helped overpower a man attempting to hijack the aircraft with a dynamite bomb and fuse.
3.8.60 Penny made forced landing in Lockheed 10 VH-CHD due engine failure at Camooweal Qld on a passenger charter to NT: he was subsequently charged by DCA with operating overloaded.
2.63 Aviation Advisor and pilot for Western Air Courier Pty Ltd, 143 High Street, Hillston NSW. Directors included John Conley of Australian Aircraft Sales. Commenced a scheduled service in March 1963 between Hillston-Wilcannia-Ivanhoe-Griffith to carry passengers to connect with airlines to Sydney. Fleet was Beech Bonanza VH-BBQ and Lockheed LASA 60 VH-ELI both owned by Australian Aircraft Sales. There was a subsequent court case against Conley over investors’ funds.
65 Formed engineering business Chemi-Coaters and sub-contracted to Transfield's Burrendong Dam project and Thiess Brothers at Groote Eylandt but Chemi-Coaters went into liquidation.
23.7.67 Penny was flying Marshall Airways Lockheed 10 VH-ASM on joyrides at Bankstown, when he made an emergency landing with a smoking starboard engine and suspect undercarriage: landed safely.
20.5.2001 Warren Penny died at Blacktown Hospital, Sydney.
|Bert Starkey: 3, 58|
Captain Bert Starkey, popularly known as “Moonlight” Starkey.
39 Prewar civil pilot
40 Enlisted in RAAF
2.42 WO Starkey flying DC-2s with 1 Wireless Air Gunners School, Ballarat VIC
4.7.42 WO Starkey flying DC-2 A30-5 at 3 WAGS Marybrorough QLD when damaged landing with a locked brake
7.42 WO Starkey flying DC-2s with 36 Squadron, Essendon VIC
8.1.43 WO B. Starkey in command of RAAF 36 Squadron DC-2 A30-12 when it crashed on landing Cooktown QLD
8.43 Pilot Officer Starkey flying C-47s with 36 Squadron, Townsville QLD
25.3.44 PO Starkey of 36 Squadron made an emergency landing in Dakota A65-1 at Cairns Qld after port engine mount bolts failed, resulting in the engine dropping with windmilling propeller.
47-48 Pilot for Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney on migrant charters
21.1.48 Starkey dismissed from ICAT by Warren Penny, due to his behavior on a flight from Rome carrying nuns (described above)
1.48 Starkey joined Guinea Air Traders, Lae, New Guinea.
29.1.48 Starkey was captain of New Holland Airways Douglas DC-5 VH-ARD during crew endorsement training at Schofields NSW. Undercarriage was retracted too early on takeoff and the aircraft settled on to the runway on its belly, with only minor damage. 58
|Frank "Mac" Twemlow 128, 179|
Frank MacKay Twemlow, DFC and Bar, Sydney
21.3.18 Born Camden NSW
18.9.40 Enlisted in RAAF. Flew P-40s with RAAF 450 Squadron in Middle East. Awarded DFC for landing his Spitfire behind enemy lines to rescue a squadron pilot. Later awarded Bar to the DFC, Africa Star, Italy Star, 1939-1945 Star.
43 Instructor at No.2 OTU Mildura.
45 Joined Qantas Empire Airways, Sydney. First assignment was flying QEA Lockheed 14 VH-ADT on a military courier service Sydney-Townsville. Later Qantas Liberators and Lancastrians.
46 Founder and Managing Director Interstate Air Services Pty Ltd, Sydney: operated a Dragon and 2 Ansons for charter. Applied to DCA for airline licence 3 weekly return flights Sydney-Jervis Bay with bus connection to Nowra. Licence issued January 1947.
12.46 Twemlow left IAS when the company was reoganised with new Directors.
12.46 Twemlow operates as Gracelin Import and Export Co, P.O.Box 8, Bankstown NSW. He forms an associate company Aircarriers Pty Ltd, Sydney
to operate Halifax G-AGXA as a tramp freighter. Delays in Australian certification as VH-BDT and made only one commercisl flight, a charter to Singapore in June 1947 under the command of Ted Hourigan. On return to Sydney retured at Mascot. Aircarriers Pty Ltd was wound up.
11.47 Mac Twemlow and Ted Gabriel test flew Curtiss Madsen Aircrafts Pty Ltd, Sydney Lockheed Hudson VH-JCM after civil conversion. They were original pilots for CMA, along with Jim Madsen.
2.48 Gabriel and Twemlow flew Curtiss Madsen Aircrafts' Hudson VH-JCM from Sydney to Athens and return on charter to European Air Transport as their inaugural migrant service.
48 Mac Twemlow and Warren Penny together put up bail to have Charles M. MacDonald of Macair Charter Service released from gaol in Sydney on fraud charges.
18.3.48 Returned to Qantas Empire Airways as DC-3 First Officer in New Guinea.
50-52 Qantas DC-3 Captain in New Guinea
16.4.52 Captain Mac Twemlow in a Qantas DC-3 joined the search for DCA Drover VH-DHA, which had ditched 100 miles from Wewak. He picked up the signal from the Gibson Girl transmitter of the dinghy carrying the three occupants. At dawn next morning they were rescued by the crew of Qantas Catalina VH-EBD which landed alongside a RAAF crash launch carrying the men.
53 Qantas DC-4 Captain
59-60 Qantas Boeing 707 Captain
21.3.60 Retired from Qantas due ill health, at that time Boeing 707 Captain
- Flew for Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Auithority at Cooma NSW. While based at Cooma he was elected President of the Cooma RSL branch.
30.1.95 Frank Twemlow died at Berrima NSW, age 76. 164
|Lionel Van Praag: 10, 114|
Lionel Maurice Van Praag, Sydney.
Lionel pronounced his name as Van Pragg, but was known to his friends as “Van”.
Doug Fawcett wrote: “He was certainly a tough person. During his motorbike racing days he had broken almost every bone in his body”
17.12.1908 Born Sydney
23 At age 15 commenced speedway motorcycle competitions. Became a professional motorcycle speedway rider. He won many championships and appeared in the 1933 British film Money for Speed, which starred motorbike speedway riders and promotors.
31 Gained British Private Pilot Licence after trainng on DH.60 Moths with the Boxbourne Flying Club in UK
10.9.36 Won the World Speedway Championship at Wembley, England. Returned to Wembley to ride in the world championships in 1937 and 1938
40 Rejected by RAF as aircrew, so sailed for home to join RAAF
11.8.41 Enlisted in RAAF, occupation on enlistment quoted as Professional Motor Cyclist, Bondi Sydney.
41-42 Sergeant L. Van Praag attached to No.2 WAGS, Parkes as DC-2 copilot.
26.1.42 Sgt Van Praag was copilot to Flying Officer Noel Webster in RAAF DC-2 A30-8 enroute Sourabaya-Koepang returning from a special mission carrying USAAC P-40 Kittyhawk ground crews and aircraft spares to Sourabaya during the Japanese invasion of Netherlands East Indies. The DC-2 was attacked by Japanese fighters, badly damaged, Van Praag was wounded and they were forced to ditch in Sumba Strait. With two other crew members, they drifted in sea for 30 hours in water wearing Mae Wests tied together, before washed up on an island where they were cared for by natives. Webster and Van Praag were later awarded the George Medal for bravery. 31, 180
43 John Balfe, fellow RAAF transport pilot, later wrote of Lionel:
“…in flying with Van, I had perceived in his slight, wiry form a man of particular capacity and directness. He cared nothing for false values in anything or anyone and did not hide the fact. I found him only a week out of hospital after the ditching but already back in a comprehensive engineering workshop that he had behind his unpretentious home on Botany Bay’s northern shore. One of the real Australians, Van had led a hard and dangerous life racing motorcycles from early manhood and lived to standards that he had not relaxed. He was a moderate in thought and habit and held in quiet contempt those who were not.” 113
18.3.42 Flying Officer Van Praag assigned from RAAF Hospital to No.36 Squadron, Townsville while C-47 captain on transport operations to the islands
11.43 36 Squadron CO Squadron Leader Harry Purvis assessed Van Praag: "Above average pilot of considerable experience on large types. Ideally suited for transport flying. Inclined to be truculent in his manner with men under him and as a result is not popular."
11.43 Posted to No.1 Paratroop Training Unit, Richmond with DC-2s
44 Flew Dakotas with 38 Sqn and 35 Sqn
12.44 Flight Lieutenant Van Praag RAAF Flying Hours report: Total hours 1712, including 544 hours on DC-2s, 828 hours on Dakotas
27.7.45 Discharged from RAAF at own request to resume civil career.
46 Operated the International Speedway Club, Sydney. He retired from competitive motocycle riding in 1950.
46-47 Purchased 3 RAAF Hudsons from Commonwealth Disposals Commission: listed below
47-49 Pilot for Guinea Air Traders. He was senior Captain for their European DC-3s migrant flights from Europe. Van Praag delivered GAT’s DC-3s G-AGHN and G-AKNB from England to join the migrant charters.
10.49 Ferried GAT DC-3 G-AKNB back to England after DCA stopped migrant charters to Australia. On arrival at Blackbushe, he was delayed by Ministry of Civil Aviation officials due to concerns with the validity of his pilot licence and the CofA status of the aircraft.
8.12.49 Van Praag arrived at Alice Springs delivering DH.89 Rapide VH-AHI from England to Connellan Airways. He was accompanied by S. Birtus and R. E. Brownley, both of Sydney.
(Stan Birtus joined Kingsford Smith Aviation Service, Bankstown and by 1954 was Chief Flying Instructor of Kingsford Smith Flying School. He also flew charter in DH.89 VH-AAG of Alpine Airways, Cooma which was an associate company of Kingsford Smith Aviation Service)
50/52 Flew Lodestars VH-FAB and VH-FAC on cargo work for Fawcett Aviation subsidiary Air Cargo Pty Ltd, Bankstown.
7.2.51 Van Praag with copilot Nancy Ellis flew Lodestar VH-FAD from Mascot to Adelaide for Empire Speedways, carrying 15 competitors from Britain and Australia on bench seats without seatbelts, along with their motorbikes and tool kits. They then flew the group on to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Tom Watson flew as copilot for Van Praag on other charter flights carrying speedway riders.
50s Anecdotal tale of Tom Watson physically restraining Van Praag from shooting a fellow speedway rider with a revolver in a Paddington (Sydney) street, during a dispute over a lady. 155
27.3.51 Van Praag and Warren Penny flew Marshall Airways Douglas DC-2 VH-CDZ Mascot-Narrabri-Moree return to collect people stranded by floods
10.52 Flew as Captain on Lodestar VH-FAD on passenger services of South Coast Airways, Sydney
- Flew for Pakistan Airlines for a year before returning to Australia
4.55 Van Praag and Titus Oates delivered Lodestar VH-FAD of Fawcett Aviation to Fieldair in NZ as ZK-BJM, and Van Praag remained in NZ for some time with the aircraft flying topdressing operations
57 Flew Tiger Moth cropdressing in NSW for Fawcett Aviation subsidiary Farm Air Pty Ltd
57 Joined Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd, Bankstown as pilot. Chief Pilot on their Bristol 170 Freighter VH-AAH used on crop dusting operations in NSW and occasional freight charters.
23.8.58 Seriously injured in crash of Aerial Agriculture Beaver VH-AAP near Goulburn NSW
59/60 Dusting ops in Bristol VH-AAH discontinued late 58, Van Praag continued flying it on cargo charters with part-time copilot/radio operators.
4.61 Bristol Freighter VH-AAH sold by Aerial Agriculture to Pacific Aviation, Archerfield Qld: Van Praag was engaged by Pacific Aviation as Chief Pilot and continued flying the Freighter, mostly cargo Tasmania-Sydney
4.61 Van Praag and Pacific Aviation manager Arthur McLachlan (who also founded Air Express at Archerfield) ferried former Pakistan Air Force Bristol Freighter AP-AMD from Pakistan to Australia after purchase by Pacific Aviation. Became VH-ADL.
5.61 Van Praag was contracted by Trans Australia Airlines to assist in the delivery of their 4 Bristol Freighters purchased from Pakistan Air Force. He was with the TAA crew who departed Karachi 7.5.61 in AP-AME which became VH-TBA. Ten days later he departed Karachi again with TAA crew of AP-AMF which became VH-TBB.
18.12.61 Van Praag was Captain of Bristol VH-AAH when it crashed during a forced landing near Woolongong NSW after engine failure on a flight Sydney-Tasmania with a full load of foodstuffs, mainly Kellogs Cornflakes. No injuries.
62/75 Van Praag was pilot for Adastra Aerial Surveys, Sydney, becoming Chief Pilot and Check Captain. Hudsons, DC-3
72 Purchased Edgar Percival EP-9 VH-DAI which was stored damaged at Parafield. Reportedly Lionel planned to use it to carry supplies to Temple Island, south of Mackay where he planned to retire. The EP-9 was moved by road to Broken Hill for repairs, but it was not collected by Lionel and was sold three years later.
4.73 Delivered Adastra Hudson VH-AGJ from Sydney to Scotland for Sir William Robert’s Strathallan Collection. Departed Mascot on 19 April 1973, ferry took 73 hrs 55 mins flying time. This Hudson is now displayed at the RAF Museum, Hendon.
After losing his Commercial Pilot Licence due failing eyesight and hearing loss, Lionel took up flying amateur built ultralight aircraft and at the time of his death was building a light airship on his property outside Brisbane. 178
15.5.87 Lionel Van Praag died from emphysema at Royal Brisbane Hospital.
7.87 An Obituary by Wg CDr P.Morrall AO said in part: "This irascible, irreverent but irrepressible man of action provided entertainment and motivation for thousands worldwide with his speedway exploits, his contribution to the survival of his RAAF mates was recognised by the nation. He is survived by his wife Gwen, 3 children and 8 grandchildren.” 178
Lionel Van Praag's Hudson VH-BLA leased to Guinea Air Traders and named "Silver Bullet", Mascot 1948.
Photo: Ed Coates Collection
Lionel Van Praag’s aircraft:
Hudson Mk. IIIA VH-ALA (ex RAAF A16-214)
25.11.46 Purchased by L.M.Van Praag from Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1500
4.2.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage, RAAF Richmond.
4.47 CofA conversion under way at Camden NSW: to be freighter
5.47 VH-ALA registered to Lionel M. Van Praag/International Speedway Club, Sydney.
5.47 Leased to Guinea Air Traders, Lae PNG
18.4.48 Crashed on takeoff Lae on GAT flight to Bulolo. 4 crew and 33 native labourers killed.
Hudson Mk. III VH-BLB (ex RAAF A16-222)
16.4.47 Purchased by L.M.Van Praag from Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £1000
6.6.47 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage, RAAF Richmond
.48 Sold to Brian Thomas, Sydney
CofA conversion by Curtis Madsen Aircrafts, Bankstown
11.48 VH-BLB registered to Brian Thomas, Sydney.
Planned lease to GAT, Lae as freighter, but not delivered to New Guinea.
2.49 Departed Sydney on ferry to Israel Air Force, under operator name of GAT
10.49 Struck off Australian civil register as “improper sale overseas”
Hudson Mk.IIIA VH-BLA (ex RAAF A16-219)
13.1.48 Purchased by L.M.Van Praag from Commonwealth Disposals Commission, price £400
11.2.48 Issued to purchaser ex 2AD Storage, RAAF Richmond, Total time 1,511 hrs
CofA conversion by Curtis Madsen Aircrafts, Bankstown
4.48 VH-BLA registered to L. M. Van Praag, Sydney.
4.48 Leased to Guinea Air Traders,Lae, New Guinea named Silver Bullet
10.49 Ferried Lae-Sydney when retired by GAT
22.6.50 Sold to Adastra Airways, Mascot, modified for survey ops. Became VH-AGG.
|Tom Watson 45, 154, 165, 166, 167|
Thomas J. Watson, Sydney.
13.7.18 Thomas J. Watson was born at Narrogin WA. He developed an interest in flying at a young age, and eagerly assisted visiting barnstorming pilots in the district
34 Learnt to fly with Royal Aero Club of Western Australia ay Maylands Aerodrome, Perth. He failed the medical examination for colour blindness, which prevented the issue of a Pilot Licence.
35 Joined the Naval Reserve. When war was declared he was immediately called up to serve with the Royal Australian Navy
9.10.40 Transferred to RAAF at his request. Posted as Fitter 2E to RAAF Deniliquin, later RAAF Rathmines. Overseas service followed serving in Britain with Nos.10 and 461 Squadrons on Sunderlands and later 463 Squadron on Lancasters.
2.46 RAAF discharge in Sydney. DCA agreed to review his colour blindness, ruling it in the mild category, which allowed him to gain a pilot licence. He paid for further training to gain a Commercial Pilot Licence.
46 Employed by Qantas Empire Airways as ground engineer at Rose Bay flying boat base, Sydney
8.46 DCA charter licence application from D. W. Gluyas, a former RAAF pilot, to operate in New Guinea with an Avro Anson VH-AXQ, which he had just purchased. Operating name would be New Guinea Air Freighters. The application listed another pilot Peter B. Lavender and engineers B. McHugh and Tom Watson. Nothing further came of the plan, McHugh, Lavender and Watson later joining Guinea Air Traders.
3.47 Joined Guinea Air Traders, Lae as ground engineer, flew from Sydney to New Guinea on board GAT Anson VH-AVQ which was being delivered to Lae by newly employed pilots Tom Deegan and John Spiers.
48 Promoted to GAT Chief Engineer after the former chief engineer George Price was killed in the crash of GAT Lockheed Hudson VH-ALA at Lae on 18 April 1948. The following year, Watson was flying on the GAT DC-3 migrant charters between Sydney and Europe and the Chief Engineer position at Lae was taken over by Cliff Jackson, who later founded Papuan Air Transport.
48 Copilot to Lionel Van Praag ferrying a British registered DC-3 from England to Lae for GAT. (either G-AGHN and G-AGKN)
49 Flew as GAT DC-3 copilot, usually with Captain Lionel van Praag on GAT migrant runs from Europe.
49 Following the end of the migrant charters, Watson left GAT as the company ceased to operate effectively in New Guinea.
Tom Watson maintained a long friendship into old age with GAT founder Sam Jamieson.
.50 Early 1950 Watson was appointed as Chief Engineer by Air-Griculture Control Pty Ltd, Sydney, which had been formed to take over the pioneering aerial agricultural experiments of East West Airlines at Tamworth. AGC had previously contracted aircraft maintenance to J. S. McConnell & Sons at Camden. Watson set up the company’s own maintenance organization for their fleet of Tiger Moth crop sprayers and other aircraft, all registered in the VH-PC_ series, for ‘pest control’. Watson designed and constructed loader vehicles, initially based on Willys jeeps. AGC conducted dusting and spraying in NSW, Victoria, SA and Tasmania.
30.6.52 Air Griculture Control Pty Ltd was placed in receivership and the company ceased operations.
.52 Tom Watson negotiated with the receivers and founded a new company Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd, which purchased the assets of AGC. The new company was financed by a variety of investors, a major shareholder being Nottingham Insurance Ltd, Sydney which had taken over ownership of 10 former AGC Tiger Moths including crash wrecks, which it wanted operated on its behalf by Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd.
6.53 Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd had 10 Tiger Moths in service by now, based at Bankstown Airport, Sydney
1.7.53 Watson operated the Chevrolet Blitz truck superphosphate loader vehicle at Bacchus Marsh Vic for company pilot Fred Burke when they broke the New Zealand record of 30 tons spread by a Tiger Moth in a single day. Using Tiger VH-PCF, 34.5 tons were spread, involving 130 takeoffs and landings.
.55 Fred Sutton of Suttons Motors, Sydney purchased Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd from its original shareholders, conditional on Tom Watson remaining as Manager and shareholder.
50s Tom often flew as copilot for Lionel van Praag on freight and passenger charters from Sydney in Fawcett Aviation Lockheed Lodestars. Watson employed Van Praag as an agricultural pilot with Aerial Agriculture.
57 The Tiger Moths needed replacing. Watson went to NZ to evaluate Cessna 180s in agricultural service but decided they were not suited for the high density-altitudes of one of his company’s key operating areas, the New England district of NSW. He chose the DHC-2 Beaver because its supercharged engine let it climb with a full load. Watson pioneered modifications to the Beaver for dusting and spraying and in the 1960s companies under Aerial Agriculture’s ownership operated a total of 56 Beavers.
10.57 Aerial Agriculture’s first Beaver VH-AAI was first demonstrated at an agricultural field day at Walcha NSW. A company loader vehicle, capable of scooping and lifting a ton of superphosphate granules from the stockpile, dropped the load into the aircraft hopper through a roof hatch and the Beaver delivered 12 tons in 70 minutes. The vast improvement over the Tiger Moth was appreciated by all present. Tom Watson was later to personally donate Tiger Moth VH-PCB to the Walcha Historical Society as a memorial to first commercial crop dusting of superphosphate, carried out in 1950 at Walcha by Air-Griculture Control.
57 Some farming properties to be dusted required bags of superphosphate to be carted by road up to 50 miles. Watson supported Lionel Van Pragg’s proposal to operate a Bristol Freighter for large-scale crop dusting. Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd acquired VH-AAH from French Indo China, which was delivered by Van Praag. It was modified at Bankstown with a large removable metal hopper in the cabin with holes cut in the roof and belly for loading and discharging fertilizer. Captain for the Bristol was exclusively Lionel Van Praag. Operating from Cootamundra NSW, he established a delivery rate of 40 tons per hour. When not required for agricultural work, the Bristol was used on freight charters, including carrying cattle in pens.
Under Tom Watson’s management, Aerial Agricuture Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport, Sydney grew to 150 staff. He was personally involved in designing and developing more efficient spray and dump equipment capable of being fitted to a variety of aircraft and introduced new techniques from around the world. During the boom days of the early 1960s the company took over rivals Super Spread in Melbourne ands Robbys Aircraft in Adelaide, re-equipping them both with Beavers.
.63 Elected President of the Australian Aerial Agricultural Association. Re-elected the following year.
63 Watson designed fiberglass wing pods to sow grass seed. They were built by Aerial Agriculture and and fitted under the wing of company Cessna 182A VH-DCG. Each carried 90 Kg of clover seed. After flight trials these pods were fitted to Cessna 180 and Beaver types and used to distribute eucalypt seeds following logging.
6.64 Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd imported the first of 27 Callair A-9A & B-1 agricultural aircraft to Australia, in competition with the Piper PA-25 Pawnee 235. The Callairs were marketed by an associate company, Southwest Pacific Aircraft Co, Bankstown.
.68 Aerial Agriculture’s Beaver VH-AAX was rebuilt at Bankstown with a Garrett Airesearch TP331-61 turboprop and a redesigned tailplane. Watson had extensively researched the project overseas. Associate company Southwest Pacific Aircraft Engineering marketed the turbine Beaver as the Wallaroo, but no sales eventuated. VH-AAX was returned to a standard Beaver with P&W R-985 engine, until 1986 when it was again fitted with a Garrett TPE331 turbine and propeller salvaged from a Short Skyvan, and used extensively as a parachute drop ship.
1968 Because of a slump in demand for aerial agriculture, Watson guided Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd into aerial geophysical survey operations. Using Beavers then Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneers, extensive surveys were conducted all over Australia searching for mineral despots under the earth. In 1970s he was appointed Australian agent for Aero Service Corp, Philadelphia PA
83 Improvements in land-based farming methods had reduced demand for aerial application to such an extent that Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd ceased operations. Tom Watson oversaw the break-up of the company that resulted in many former pilot employees acquiring the aircraft they had previously flown and the customers in an operating area.
Watson retired, living at Lane Cove, Sydney, but maintained an active interest in the industry.
18.2.99 Inaugural recipient of the Lawrence Hargrave Award by Royal Aeronautical Society (Australian Division)
26.1.03 Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the aerial agriculture industry
3.9.2010 Tom Watson died peacefully in Sydney, aged 93. A lone DHC-2 Beaver circled his funeral service in Sydney.
He was widely liked and respected. It was said “Anyone in the industry will attest to his being someone who would help anyone else without prompting and seeking (or even wanting to accept) anything in return. This generosity in both spirit and action marks him out. His word was his bond and once he'd committed to something - that was that. He was a pretty humble sort of fellow and not really into material possessions.”
|James “Wac” Whiteman: 1, 3, 10, 67, 129, 141|
James Leighton Dennett Carlile Whiteman, widely known as "Wac".
A popular character with a vibrant personality and a poor memory for names, so he called everyone "Wac", which soon became his own nickname. Wac Whiteman was once described by Donald G. Anderson, Director General of DCA as “last of the buccaneers of aviation”.
13.7.1910 Born Christchurch NZ.
27 Apprentice fitter at deHavilland Aircraft, Johannesburg and gained pilot licence.
30 Commercial pilot licence in Argentina. Test flying for Argentine Air Force, pilot for La Critica Newspaper, flew a Comper Swift over the Andes
31 Joined Esso in Paraguay, flying pipeline patrols and dropping WW1 German bombs on marauders
32-38 Flew with aero clubs in England, then Australia, New Zealand, back to Sydney in 1936.
37 Mercenary pilot in the Spanish Civil War, first on Franco's side, then switched to the other side when higher pay was offered
17.1.38 Enlisted in RAAF at Laverton Vic. Began as an aircraft fitter, promoted to Sgt. Pilot due to his previous flying experience, posted to Narromine as a Link trainer instructor. After a Flying Instructor course with Central Flying School at Camden he was posted to No.2 EFTS Archerfield, then No.7 EFTS Launceston, later No.7 SFTS Deniliquin as instructor on Wirraways.
19.10.42 FO Whiteman left Essendon for Darwin in 36 Squadron Junkers G.31 A44-1 carrying military cargo
14.11.42 FO Whiteman flew DC-2 A30-10 from Essendon to Townsville.
24.11.42 FO Whiteman in command of DC-2 A30-10 when it crashed on takeoff at Mallacoota VIC due starboard engine failure. All six airmen on board were injured.
6.43 Flt Lt Whiteman flying 36 Squadron Douglas C-53s in New Guinea
8.43 Flt Lt Whiteman flying 36 Squadron Lockheed C-60 Lodestar carrying cargo to US Navy at Woodlark Island, New Guinea, attacked by Japanese Dinah near Woodlark Island, landed safely.
46 Flew RAAF Dakota courier service to Occupational Forces in Japan
30.1.46 Whiteman registered Westland Widgeon VH-UKS which he claimed he had won in a card game and stored at Rockhampton Qld for the duration of the war. CofA was renewed at Rockhampron on 23 May 1947.
46 With RAAF discharge due, Whiteman established an antique business in Sydney.
10.1.47 Discharged from RAAF with rank Flight Lieutenant
6.10.47 Westland Widgeon VH-UKS was being ferried by Whiteman from Rockhampton to Sydney. Between Kempsy and Newcastle NSW he made a forced landing on a beach to clear a blocked petrol line, getting airborne again just ahead of the incoming tide. 15 minutes later the engine failed completely and Whiteman made a forced landing in a swamp at Sugarloaf Point NSW north of Port Stephens. The aircraft overturned in water, but Whiteman was not hurt and spent the night with the aircraft. Next morning he took three hours to get through the tidal swamp to the beach then set off walking towards the Seal Rocks lighthouse, and was spotted by a searching RAAF Catalina which dropped water and food rations. A Sydney Morning Herald Lockheed Hudson flown by Captain G. Hoskins was also in the search and located him on the beach. The Widgeon was later salvaged from the swamp and sold.
2.49 Departed Sydney for Israel flying Hudson VH-BFQ, in company with Frank Wiza in Hudson VH-BIA, both aircraft carrying an engineer. They were illegal sales to Israel where they were returned to bombing configuration. Whiteman and Wiza were invited to stay on as instructors, but after a brawl with Israeli officers in the mess on their first night, the CO dismissed them. The pair returned to Australia via Rome on a migrant flight in New Holland Airways DC-3 VH-BNH.
6.50 Purchased Curtiss Robin VH-UJE,used it for charter and joyriding at Wollongong and Coolangatta. On one occasion while flying it into Sydney with two passengers on board, the rudder controls connecting rod failed, so he opened the left and right cabin doors using his knees and elbows to push them open to turn the aircraft, and landed safely.
11.50 Captain of Fawcett Aviation associated company Air Cargo Pty Ltd Lodestar VH-FAB, with copilot Nancy Ellis, on wool bale airlift at Narrabri due to extensive floods. Carried 15 bales each trip off a rough clay strip at Yarraldool Station, making 5 return sorties a day. By 5 December 1950 they had moved 700 bales.
51 Flew Air Cargo Pty Ltd Lodestars VH-FAB and VH-FAC on freight contracts for TAA.
.51 Re-enlisted in RAAF, based at Butterworth, Malaya and then Korea.
1.52 Flt Lt Whiteman purchased Fairchild Argus VR-RBE from Kuala Lumpur Flying Club.
1.52 Posted from Malaya to 36 Squadron at RAAF Richmond NSW
5.52 Whiteman travelled from Australia to Kuala Lumpur to collect the Fairchild. He was unable to get a military flight direct to Malaya, so took a No.38 Squadron Dakota to Hong Kong then hitched a ride on a RAF Sunderland to Singapore, where he got a ride on another RAAF Dakota to Kuala Lumpur.
5.52 Flew Fairchild VR-RBE from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney. Used an electric car pump to pump fuel from six 5 gallon fuel drums in the cabin. Whiteman was arrested and held for 3 days by Indonesian Army at Sumbawau Besar, suspected of dropping arms to rebels in the area. On arrival Sydney VR-RBE was sold to Doug Fawcett at Bankstown, registered VH-AIO in June 1953 and used by Fawcett's Illawarra Flying School.
1.53 Released by RAAF, but remained on active reserve.
30.1.53 Purchased CAC Mustang Mk.20 A68-5 from RAAF disposals for £100. He planned to enter the Mustang in the 1953 International Air Race London-Christchurch. His address on sales paperwork was 12 Carroll Street, Kogarah, Sydney. His application to DCA for civil registration requested VH-WAC but DCA responded that it was not available and issued a sequence registration VH-BVM.
2.53 Ferried Mustang A68-5 to Bankstown from RAAF Tocumwal where it had been stored. Civil inspection by Fawcett Aviation, painted as VH-BVM with sponsor “REDeX” titles and name "Rebel" on nose.
17.7.53 Flew Mustang VH-BVM Sydney-Auckland in 3 hrs 31 minutes, breaking speed record previously set by a Pan American Boeing Stratocruiser. Fitted with under wing drop tanks, which he attempted to jettison when empty, but the rear attachment points did not release and the tanks hung down, making the aircraft almost uncontrollable. He was planning to ditch when the tanks finally broke away.
31.8.53 Departed Sydney as pilot of Redex motor oil company Percival Proctor VH-BQQ carrying officials of the Redex car reliability trial to check points across Australia ahead of the competitors.
9.53 Scratched his Mustang from the London-Christchurch Air Race when DCA refused his proposed modifications including ram-jet engines on each wingtip. He had attempted to obtain loan of RAAF Sabre prototype A94-101 and a USAF Republic F-84E Thunderstreak. Mustang sold to Arnold Glass of Capitol Motors, Sydney on 29 September 1953.
30.11.53 Whiteman purchased Ryan STM VH-AGS which he also named "Rebel"
12.53 Left Sydney to live in New Zealand again. Shipped the Ryan to Auckland in May 1954, Whiteman made a forced landing on Takapuna Beach, Auckland on 17 May 1954 without damage to the aircraft. Ryan was registered ZK-BEM to Whiteman at an Auckland address on 14 September 1955, and sold the following month. This Ryan still flies in NZ in Netherland East Indies military scheme.
12.56 Returned to Sydney from NZ to again live in Australia. Flew Tiger Moths on agricultural operations in NSW, Queensland and WA.
6.57 Whiteman was approached by Sydney pilot Aubrey “Titus” Oates, to join a new aerial agricultural company being formed by Lindsey Campbell and Joan White, to be named Skyspread Ltd, Sydney. Oates arranged the purchase of two new Edgar Percival E.P.9 aircraft then under production in England which would be flown to Australia to avoid shipping delays and fee. Oates would fly one, Whiteman the other. To defray costs, it was arranged that they would crew a DC-3 ferry flight from Australia to Nigeria then being undertaken by Bryan Monkton. TAA had sold five DC-3s to Nigerian Airways and contracted Monkton to deliver them (see Monkton above in The Players).
With Monkton as captain, the two shared pilot duties on the ferry flight to Lagos, Nigeria. From there Oates and Whiteman continued on commercial airline flights to Amsterdam then London.
While waiting for the new E.P.9s to be tested at the factory, the entrepreneurial Oates located three Australians holidaying in London, desperate for a cheap flight home. Despite Whiteman’s E.P.9 carrying all the spare parts included in the purchase, Oates allocated him two female passengers and a racing car engine which Oates had agreed to deliver for a friend. Oates would take the third passenger plus other cargo.
28.10.57 Whiteman and Oates departed Croydon Airport, London in E.P.9s G-APIA & G-APIB on the delivery flight to Sydney. Whiteman aborted his first takeoff attempt because he was too overloaded. He had the racing car engine removed, then the two aircraft set off in loose formation. It was agreed that Whiteman would be responsible for navigation and Oates would stay in visual contact. Neither aircraft was fitted with radio.
Refuelling stops were: Roanne, Lyon, Marseilles, Roma, Araxas, Athens, Rhodes, Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Basra, Bahrein, Mauraeva, Karachi, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Calcutta, Chittagong, Rangoon, Mergui, Butterworth, Penang, Singapore, Palembang, Djakarta, Soerabaya, Denpasar, Koepang, Darwin, Tennant Creek, Cloncurry, Charleville, Dalby, Archerfield, Newcastle, Bankstown. The trip took three weeks included a delay when forced to land at Damascus by military jets and searched.
The E.P.9s were registered VH-FBY & FBZ. Whiteman remained with Skyspread as a cropdusting pilot.
9.11.57 Whiteman flew a Skyspread EP-9 demonstration at the Hawkesbury Agricultural College for the annual Aerial Agricultural Conference. Aircaft magazine reported: "Wac Whiteman next demonstrated Skyspread's EP.9 in a most convincing manner, his low-level dusting runs and steep climbing turns leaving the onlookers in no doubt as to the maneuverability of the Percival."
58 Flew one of the E.P.9s back to Bankstown after an engine fire while operating in the field. DCA investigated and decided to charge him with breach of the Air Navigation Regulations for flying a damaged aircraft. Whiteman later recalled: “Civil Aviation tried for weeks to contact me while I was away in the bush flying and finally waited at Bankstown for me to land so they could serve their summons. They were waiting in a Commonwealth car and drove on to the tarmac, following me as I taxied all around the aerodrome - until I decided to finally come to a stop. After all that effort, the fine turned out to be only £20.” 156
58 Later while operating an E.P.9 at Dalby, Queensland, Whiteman diverted to Toowoomba when engine oil pressure dropped, forcing him to reduce power and make a low straight-in approach. A poultry farmer complained to police and a summons for low flying was issued. Wac wrote: “The E.P.9s were not an ideal aircraft for agricultural work. Skyspread was not a reliable firm to work for and I gradually became disillusioned with the whole set up. Finally after several near misses with mechanical trouble, including a fire in the engine and being fined by DCA for flying a damaged E.P.9, I parted company with Skyspread.” 156
58 Flew a season for a Perth agricultural company, crop dusting wheat crops in Western Australia.
9.58 Whiteman made enquiries at the Bankstown DCA office regarding him purchasing two Boeing Stearmans with NA-75 modifications VH-FBA and VH-CCI, stored in boxes at Bankstown prior to being shipped back to owners Crop Care Inc, Sacramento California after a failed attempt to commence agricultural operations in Australia. The purchase of the two Stearmans was not pursued.
61 Joined Crop Culture (Overseas) Ltd, in Ecuador, then Jamaica flying Snow aircraft spraying banana and sugar crops. Later based in Sudan spraying cotton, then back to Jamaica
c70 Delivered several twin engined aircraft from USA to Indonesian Air Force
9.3.03 James Whiteman died, reportedly at Gosford NSW.
|Frank Wiza: 3, 10, 127, 171, 172|
Franciszek Antoni "Frank" Wiza was a Polish freedom fighter during the German occupation, before joining RAF as a fighter pilot.
Awarded KV and 2 bars (Kryz Walecznych) and DFC.
During the war Wiza suffered permanent facial injuries when his face hit the instrument panel during a Spitfire crash landing. Anecdotal reports that he had an attraction to Australia after befriending Australian pilots when No.129 Squadron was attached to the Polish Wing.
28.2.1916 Born in Lubeck, Germany. Grew up in Poland
.40 Escaped the Nazi invasion of Poland, made his way to France then England
.42 Enlisted in RAF.
8.42 Commenced RAF service at No.58 OTU, RAF Granemouth. Posted to Polish Wing
12.42 No 315 (Polish) Squadron
7.43 No.316 (Polish) Squadron
18.8.43 Claimed a Fw190 destroyed, Amiens France, Spitfire MA235
18.8.43 Claimed a Fw190 damaged, Amiens France, Spitfire MA235
11.43 No.302 (Polish) Squadron
27.7.44 Claimed a V1 destroyed northern France, Mustang II FX995
1.8.44 Claimed a V1 destroyed, English Channel, Mustang II FX995
29.8.44 Claimed a V1 destroyed, Newchurch, Mustang II FX878
11.44 No.315 (Polish) Squadron
7.12.44 Claimed a Bf109 destroyed, Norway, Mustang III HB885
7.12.44 Claimed another Bf109 destroyed, Norway, Mustang III HB885
2.45 No.61 OTU, RAF Rednal
4.4.45 Sqn Ldr Wiza awarded his DFC in a ceremony at Fighter Command HQ RAF Bentley Priory
7.45 Transferred to RAF Transport Command. Ferried aircraft to India
6.47 RAF discharge at RAF Rednal, Shropshire
.47 Airline pilot with an Indian airline. Married a British girl in Calcutta
17.3.48 Arrived in Australia for a new career as a commercial pilot
48 Employed as a pilot by New Holland Airways, Sydney on migrant charters to Europe
2.49 Departed Sydney for Israel flying Hudson VH-BIA, accompanied by Wac Whiteman in Hudson VH-BFQ on delivery to Israel Air Force. Whiteman and Wiza were invited to stay on as instructors, but after a brawl with Israeli officers in the mess on their first night, they were dismissed by the base Commanding Officer. The pair returned to Australia via Rome on a migrant flight in New Holland Airways DC-3 VH-BNH.
12.50 Delivered Fawcett Aviation Lodestar VH-FAC to New Guinea on lease to Gibbes Sepik Airways. Fitted to carry 40 native contract workers on side-saddle seating. Wiza flew as Captain of this Lodestar for Gibbes Sepik Airrways for two years.
26.6.51 Wiza made forced landing in VH-FAC on a disused wartime strip at Jacquinot Bay, New Britain due low fuel state. Minor damage but Wiza and copilot Peter Flanagan were unhurt
50/52 Flew Lodestars VH-FAB and -FAD for Fawcett Aviation subsidiary Air Cargo Pty Ltd, Sydney. Regularly flew weekend Lodestar newspaper deliveries Sydney-Broken Hill
4.6.53 Ferried Lodestar VH-FAC Port Moresby-Cairns-Sydney on return to Fawcett Aviation when lease to Gibbes Sepik Airways ended.
11.53 Purchased Avro Anson VH-BMA. Wiza’s address by now was c/- Australian Aircraft Sales, Kings Cross, Sydney.
Change of nominal ownership in May 1954 when transferred to John P. Conley, founder of AAS. Conley on-sold the Anson in July 1954 to nightclub owner Abe Saffron, Kings Cross.
12.12.56 Frank Wiza died at Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. Aged 40. Buried in an unmarked grave at Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.
* * * * * * * *
DCA Civil Register records: Department of Civil Aviation and its successors, Melbourne later Canberra
DCA Aircraft files, MP113 accession, National Archives of Australia
RAAF Aircraft Record Cards: RAAF Historical, Canberra
Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal, 1958-67 - Australian Civil Register supplements
The Lockheed File, Ron Cuskelly: http://www.adastron.com/lockheed/lock1.htm