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Table of Contents

RAAF Meteorological Service



Chapter 1: The Weather Factor in Warfare

Chapter 2: Establishing and Developing the RAAF Directorate of Met. Services (D.Met.S)

Chapter 3: Recruiting and Training of Personnel
Senior Officers
Recruitment and Personnel
Training Courses
'Who are these Met blokes?'

Chapter 4: Meteorology in Aviation

Chapter 5: The Met. Retreating

Chapter 6: The Met. Advancing

Chapter 7: The Met With the Army and the Navy

Chapter 8: Divisional Offices of the Bureau of Meteorology During the War

Chapter 9: Research and Instrumental Development

Chapter 10: The End, Aftermath, and Beyond

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4



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Training Courses (continued)

Ralph Barnes, a former Flight-Lieutenant forecaster from South Australia, reminded me of the unscheduled activities which frequently centred around practice pilot-balloon ascents from the roof of the Central Bureau in Drummond Street, Melbourne. Most of the theodolites could be focussed on the apartments opposite, where a number of ladies of the night were esconced. The exercises and antics of these girls and their companions, were amplified in the inverted images of the instruments, so that some of the trainees almost fell over the railings, almost standing on their heads to get the correct perspectives. Another popular exercise was to put very short tails with inflammable cotton wicks on the hydrogen-filled balloons. With a boisterous north wind gusting over the roof, the balloons would bowl along the nearby streets before exploding. The police soon closed down this sport.

At the more serious skilful level, the goal of every trainee was to read the azimuth and elevation of the pilot balloon from the theodolite on the minute; and with the aid of a three-foot slide rule, calculate the direction and speed of the wind in degrees and knots in time to be ready for the next reading a minute later. A considerable amount of physical and manipulative skill was needed to fixate and keep the balloon visible in the theodolite, and, at the same time, handle the big slide rule; while the mental faculty was kept sharp by the fairly complex mathematical operation also involved. In typical Australian fashion, quite a brisk betting ring flourished around the issue of whether someone would make it on the minute or not.

A special skill that had to be developed by all meteorological personnel was that of plotting the weather chart. When plotting weather reports received onto the chart, a home-made forked pen with two nibs—one for blue, one for red ink—was used. This enabled the rapid plotting necessary for the fronts and isobars to be drawn. However, as considerable practice was needed to gain dexterity, there was a wide range in efficiency of performance.

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Joyce, J. 1993 'The Story of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 5 October 1993, Bureau of Meteorology

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