NT Medical Service operated a fleet of six DH.104 Doves through the 1970s until replaced by GAF Nomads.
Based at Darwin and Alice Springs, the Doves operated medical clinic runs and emergency medivacs
Dove 6 VH-DHE was at Hawker de Havilland's hangar at Bankstown, where NTMS major maintenance was carried out

Dove 1 VH-DSM at Lismore NSW in April 1978 while owned by Swiftair of Lismore.
Formed as an agricultural operation by Cec Swift, the company also had several aircraft for charter work

Dove 5 VH-CLD was ex G-BAHB, ferried from England in June 1974 on delivery to Bassair, based at Moorabbin Vic.
Seen there in December 1976, it operated to the Bass Strait islands and Tasmania

Dove 6 VH-MJD was imported from Britain ex G-APCZ in 1967. Seen at Adelaide with Chartair during 1968.
The following year it was sold to SAATAS East Indonesia as PK-LEA

PK-LEA was badly damaged by Cyclone Tracy while parked at Darwin Airport on Christmas Eve 1974.
Stripped of engines and parts, it was at East Point Military Museum, Darwin in September 1975

Dove 1B CR-TAG Manatuto of Transportes Aireos De Timor after overhaul by Hawker de Havilland at Bankstown Airport, Sydney.
TAT flew two Doves on local Portuguese Timor passenger services, having major maintenance in Sydney and later Perth

CR-TAG in January 1979, abandoned on the ramp at Darwin NT.
During the Indonesian invasion of Timor, an Australian pilot reportedly flew it while home-made bombs were rolled out the cabin door,
before escaping to Darwin in January 1976, carrying Timorese resistance figures to safety

When the RNZAF retired its fleet of DH.104 Devons and placed them up for disposal in 1970, this particular aircraft was an
attractive buy for an Australian customer. Australian Certification problems of ex military aircraft could be avoided because
it had been built as a civil Dove 1 ZK-AQV and following a NZ sales tour, joined the RNZAF as their first Devon NZ1801.
It was acquired by Australian Helicopters of Adelaide and ferried from NZ in April 1971, to become VH-MGT.
Seen at Bankstown in November 1973, in the markings of associate company Personnel Air Transport

By December 1976 VH-MGT was based at Jandakot Airport, Perth with Amalgamated Air, carrying workers to mining sites.
Paint scheme was white with orange trim lines

VH-MGT was followed by this trio of RNZAF Devons, seen at Perth Airport in December 1971.
They were purchased by Murchison Air Services which planned to use them on their third-level airline services from Perth.
NZ1814, NZ1817, NZ1818 had registrations reserved as VH-RTY, RTZ & RTX, but before work began on their civil conversions, Murchison was taken over by the expanding Trans West Air Charter, which had no interest in the aging Devons.
They were sold "as is" to a Perth dealer and moved by road to Jandakot Airport where two were made airworthy.

NZ1814 being assembled at Perth Airport in May 1971, prior to having the Gipsy Queen engines hung.

Flashback - Mike Madden photographed Devon C.1 NZ1814 at Whenuapai NZ in February 1962, all silver finish

NZ1814 was registered VH-CJX at Jandakot during May 1972. White with orange and back trim

Jandakot charter operator Altair Pty Ltd used Doves and a Heron on contracts carrying workers to iron ore mining sites
in the north of WA and Barrow Island for the oil drilling fields at Barrow Island, extending to Broome and Timor

NZ1818 was registered VH-CJY at Jandakot in October 1972 to Altair. Painted white and blue.
Here it is at Narrogin WA in January 1973, as entrant No.32 in the annual Air Trial

The Australian Department of Civil Aviation and its predecessors refused requests by owners to change the registrations of their aircraft,
or for registrations ahead of the strict sequence. However in 1947 when DCA issued registrations with the initials of politicans and bureaucrats to its own aircraft fleet (DC-3s VH-DMV, VH-JVF etc), the policy soon unravelled. The result was many aircraft changing registrations as they moved from owner to owner, causing later historians (and the Department itself) an on-going headache.

A humble Dove 5 c/n 04119 provides a good example of the re-registration tangle:

VP-KDG   East African Airways Corporation, Nairobi, Kenya (1948)
VH-MAB  Mandated Airlines Ltd, Lae (6.51)
VH-AWF  Airlines (WA) Ltd, Perth WA (4.55)
VH-MMP  McRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd, Perth (11.55)
VH-RAJ    Robbys Aircraft, Parafield SA (4.59)
VH-TLU   SA Air Taxis Ltd, Adelaide Airport (12.62)
VH-RCI    SA Air Taxis Ltd, Adelaide Airport (9.63)
VH-CTS   City Centre Air Taxi Service, Melbourne (11.65)
Damaged main spar in heavy landing at Geelong Vic 17.11.68. Written off.

These are my photos of this one aircraft:

VH-RAJ Parafield SA in February 1962. Polished metal finish and white

Adelaide Airport January 1963 in SA Air Taxis' VH-TL series for owners the Treloar family. Metal finish and white

Adelaide October 1963, SAAT fleet changed to VH-RC series for new manager Richard Cavill. White & blue

Parafield September 1966, now VH-CTS with City Centre Air Taxi Services, Melbourne. Blue, gold & white

The stripped hulk of VH-CTS at Warbirds Aviation Museum, Mildura Vic in June 1972


The Heron enjoyed a revival in Australia during the 1970s after Connair at Alice Springs gained approval to modernise and extend the lives
of their Heron fleet. The original DH Gipsy Queen engines were replaced with 260hp Lycoming IO-540s, the wings were re-sparred and strengthened and many improvements made in the cockpit and the 16 passenger cabin. A total of 8 Herons were rebuilt at Alice Springs.

On board Connair Lycoming Heron VH-CLX between Bathurst Island and Darwin in January 1979

VH-CLX at Bathurst Island NT in monsoonal weather during January 1979

This is the prototype DH.114 Heron, which first flew at Hatfield in May 1950.
It was purchased in 1973 by Perth charter operator Altair and ferried from Denmark as OY-DGS.
Seen at Jandakot in February 1974 as VH-CJS, in use carrying oil drilling workers to the north of WA

VH-CJS at Parafield in October 1975, now operated by Coveair, Adelaide

By 1976 VH-CJS was back in Perth, flying charter for Amalgamated Air. 
I took this shot in March 1976 at Adelaide Airport, where it had just arrived with a load of passengers from Perth during an airline strike

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