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
Chapter 4: Meteorology in Aviation
The RAAF Meteorological Flight
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
The RAAF Meteorological Flight (continued)
Air-Commodore Heffernan stated:
'To illustrate what dangers could befall the pilot on overcast days, the story of one of my own flights will serve best. On take-off the wind was from the south and the cloud base was variable at about 1,000 feet. I took off and flew in a southerly direction until I reached 16,000 feet. As the wind had been only 1520 mph on take-off, I thought that I had allowed enough and so turned and descended in a northerly direction. On the way up, I had broken clear of the clouds at 6,000 feet, and apart from a few scattered clouds at 12,000, had had a clear run. There was no indication at all of any change of wind direction during the flight.'
'On the descent I struck cloud again at about 6,000 feet, and kept a very sharp lookout for any darkening of the clouds, which would indicate that the ground was getting close. The 4,000 foot level was cleared and I was just about to level out at 2,000 feet, when a break in the cloud showed a large clump of trees some fifty feet away from my starboard wing. I rammed on full power and climbed madly in a climbing turn to port back to 5,000 feet. Here I turned south again and flew for some fifteen minutes while I tried to work out what hills these had been. I came to the conclusion that they were the Dandenongs, so at the end of the 15 minutes cautiously lowered myself towards the ground. My calculations had been correct, and I broke out of the cloud somewhere near Tooradin on Westernport Bay. In this case the wind had swung to a fairly strong westerly somewhere during the flight and had carried me over the hills. Back at Point Cook I had to land in a south-west direction, and higher up the wind swing must have been further to the west.'
'Another hazard of flight meteorological flight was the possibility of an engine failure while over cloud and not knowing exactly where you were . . .'
'Sometimes during a flight one would encounter huge towering cumulus clouds, and it was a sheer delight to play chasings around themthrough the valleys and then a dive into a mass of cloud, a couple of minutes of clammy wetness and out into brilliant sunshine. In fact we were not supposed to do anything other than climbing and gliding, as there was some theory that violent manoeuvres upset the thermometers; but it was hard to resist the temptation of this type of sport; and as I said earlier, because of the limited number of aircraft around the sky in those times, there was virtually no risk of collision. One morning however, I was frolicking around a big cumulus cloud and was actually about to loop the machine through a hole in it when, as I came over the top of the loop, I saw to my horror another Bulldog looping in the opposite direction. Both of us were upside down and pointing straight at each other! I've forgotten what type of avoiding action we took, but I know that I fell back into the cloud and prayed that the other chap had gone the other way. On returning to the tarmac I was greeted by my friend, and we both made the same remark: 'Were you the bloody fool that was mucking around that cloud?'. Thereafter, we treated cumulus clouds with a bit more respect.' 
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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