Images with a few words + details of various blog posts

Friday, 9 May 2008

New England Australia Aviation Series

This photo shows an East West Airlines Focker at Sydney airport.

At the moment I am running a series of photos showing elements of the history of aviation in Australia's New England. This page will remain the front post on this blog until the series has been finished. It will then become the entry page for the whole series.

The posts so far in the series are:

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

VH-EWA - East-West Airlines' flagship Hudson

This photo shows East-West's flagship Hudson. The problem with the company's frst planes, the Avro Anson, is that they required visual flight. Roger McDonald records:

Following their first successful year of operation using ex RAAF disposals Avro Anson aircraft, the company’s Directors announced they were pursuing the purchase of DC-3s to replace Ansons, stating that there was no future for the company unless they moved from a visual flight to an instrument flight operation.

DC-3s proved to be too expensive at this stage of EWA's operations, while there were also problems with landing fields. Instead, the EWA Board decided to purchase second hand Hudsons for refit, although Board members were seriously concerned about the cost.

The Hudson made its first commercial flight for East-West on December 22, 1949 when it departed on the 7.00am service to Sydney, cropping 30 minutes off the previous Anson scheduled time. The Northern Daily Leader reported:

This is possibly the best Hudson aircraft in Australia and will provide passengers with the ultimate in comforts as a toilet is installed and a Hostess will attend the needs of passengers.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Introducing the Lockheed Hudson - and a major Australian crash

This photo of a Lockheed Hudson is from the Temora Aviation Museum. Located between Wagga Wagga and Young, the museum was established by Sydney businessman David Lowy as a tribute to the aircraft and pilots who had defended Australia.

The Hudsons occupy a special niche in Australia's aviation history.

On 13 August 1940, a RAAF Hudson crashed near Canberra in view of onlookers and in apparently good weather while preparing to land after a flight from Melbourne.

Among those killed were Mr G A Street (Minister for the Army and Minister for Repatriation), Mr J.V. Fairbairn, (Minister for Air and Civil Aviation). Sir Henty Gullet (Vice-President of the Executive Council and one of Australia's most powerful public servants) and General Sir Brudenell White, Chief of the General Staff. This was a serious loss.

Later, Hudsons from No. 1 Squadron RAAF became the first aircraft to make an attack in the Pacific War, sinking a Japanese transport ship, Awajisan Maru, off Kota Bharu, an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbour.

Production of the Hudson ceased in 1942. These ex-military aircraft were to become another of the mainstays of regional aviation in Australia.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Nevile Schute's Planes

Planes and boats are central to many of the novels of Nevile Schute. In his autobiography, Slide Rule, Schute wrote:

Kenneth Grahame once wrote that 'there is nothing, absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.' With that I would agree yet for a fleeting period in the world's history I think that aeroplanes ran boats a very close second for enjoyment. For about 30 years there was a period when aeroplanes would fly when you wanted them to but there were still fresh things to be be learned on every flight, a period when aeroplanes were small and easily built so that experiments were cheap and new designs could fly within six months of the first glimmer in the mind of the designer. That halcyon period started about the year 1910 and it was in full flower when I was a young man; it died with the second war when aeroplanes had grown too costly and complicated for individuals to own or even to operate.

Many of New England's aviation pioneers shared this love of aircraft. They simply wanted to fly or build airlines for the love of it.

Lists of the aircraft included in Nevile Schute's novels can be found here.