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Table of Contents

George Grant Bond



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10


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Chapter 9 (continued)

The 1920s and early 1930s saw the great pioneer flights of Kingsford Smith, Bert Hinkler and Amy Johnson, and the beginning of the Airline Companies. The need for better weather information was apparent, but there were obvious difficulties for the small Weather Bureau staff. Most pilots had to base their flight plan on weather charts published in the morning newspapers, although some called at the Weather Office on the way to the aerodrome, for later information. The published weather charts were based largely on reports received at 9 am on the previous day. There was no ground Radio Station equipped to communicate with the pilots in the air, so that once the flight began, they were out of communication until they reached their destination. A weather-caused tragedy was bound to occur, and it came in 1931 with the disappearance of the Southern Cloud carrying seven passengers bound for Melbourne from Sydney. It was an early morning flight, too early to obtain later information from the Weather Bureau, so the pilot was acting on weather information issued the previous day. North to northwesterly winds, with isolated strong blows, had been expected by the Sydney Bureau in the region of the Southern Alps, a wild inhospitable area of high mountain peaks, over which the aircraft had to fly. By 10 am on the day of the flight it was evident at the Sydney Weather Bureau that the forecast issued the previous day had been dramatically wrong, but the flight was already in progress, and although a special advice was issued immediately and telephoned to the various air services, nothing could be done to warn the Southern Cloud pilot. Instead of the north to northwesterly wind expected, the 9 am reports revealed intense 60 to 70 mph southwesterlies in the Alps region—head-winds for the Southern Cloud. The aircraft went missing without trace, despite an intensive search, and the mystery was not solved until 27 years later, in 1958, when a worker on the Snowy Mountain Scheme, came across the rusty ruins on a steep mountain slope. From the position of the wreck, only 219 miles from Sydney, and the time it had taken to get there, it was realized that the average speed had been only 44 mph. 'The low average speed was seen to bear out the 70 mph strength of the head-winds, and the supposition that, at times, the aircraft was not only standing still, but actually being blown backwards.'[29] There was an extensive inquiry into the loss of the aircraft, and the resulting recommendation of the Air Accident Investigation Committee mainly concerned the Commonwealth Meteorological Bureau. 'Endeavours should be made', it said, 'to have an extra synoptic chart drawn from 6 pm reports, and an aviation forecast based on this, should be distributed widely. As a further safeguard, observations should be taken at selected points along, the air routes at 7 am the next morning, and forwarded to the Weather Bureau to allow corrections to the forecast. This corrected forecast, together with the reports of actual conditions along the way, should be issued at 8 am for all civil aviation and the RAAF.'[30]

People in Bright Sparcs - Bond, George Grant

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Spinks, D. and Haynes, I. 1986 'The Life of George Grant Bond Early Queensland Weather Forecaster', Metarch Papers, No. 3 October 1986, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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