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Table of Contents

Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: Growing Up

Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour
Sydney to Port Moresby by DH-86
First Impressions of Port Moresby
Meteorological Office Routine
Flight to Kokoda
Tropical Meteorology
John (Doc) Hogan
Setting up House
We Join the RAAF
A Contrast in Attitudes
Some RAAF History
RAAF No 10 Squadron
RAAF No 11 Squadron
The Catalina Story
Construction of the Seven-mile Airstrip and Reclamation Area
Meteorological Service for the RAAF
Unexpected Vistitors
Our State of Readiness
Our Domestic Situation
A Japanese Surprise Packet
What Had We Meteorologists Achieved?

Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour

Chapter 4: Allied Air Force HQ and RAAF Command, Brisbane

Chapter 5: Japan Surrenders and We Are Demobilised



Appendix 1: References

Appendix 2: Milestones

Appendix 3: Papers Published in Tropical Weather Research Bulletins

Appendix 4: Radiosonde Observations 1941–46


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Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour (continued)

The DH-86 was more closely related to the first heavier than air machine flown by the Wright brothers in the USA in 1903 than to the jet-aircraft of the latter half of the 20th century. The Tiger Moth and DH-86 were powered by petrol-fuelled in-line piston engines which contrast with today's kerosene powered fan-jets. The Tiger and the DH-86 floated bird-like through the air, responding to updraft and downdrafts which we felt through the seat of our pants. Flight in an aeroplane was a great adventure which relatively few people had experienced in those days. Flights I made as a passenger during the war years in the DH-86, a Tri-motor Ford, RAAF Short Empire 'C' Class flying boats, Catalinas, Hudsons and DC-3s were all great adventures.

After the war I rode in other piston-engine, turboprop and jet aircraft but the excitement was never as great, except for my first jet flight in a RAAF Canberra bomber after the war. This flight from the RAAF base at Laverton was with a very young pilot making his first solo flight. It had been arranged by Wing Cmdr Gel Cummings who at that time was Commanding Officer (CO) of ARDU which I believe was the abbreviation for Aircraft Research and Development Unit.

Other memorable postwar flights were made in 1959 in a US Air Force Globemaster from Christchurch, New Zealand to McMurdo Sound in Antarctica and return. As one of a party of about 20 people I travelled in the cavernous empty cargo hold of the huge Globemaster. While in the Antarctic I had the good fortune to ride in a DC-3, a Hercules and a helicopter. The many postwar flights I have made in fast commercial jet aircraft have lacked the delicate grace of the DH-86. Modern jet aircraft hurtle through the atmosphere with little of the sensation of graceful motion of a soaring bird which I experienced in my first flight in a Tiger Moth. Taking-off or landing in a modern jet aircraft, or cruising in the relatively turbulence-free upper troposphere provide little interest except for the high-level vistas of cloud formations and the beauty of the colours of twilight and dawn as seen from upper levels of the atmosphere.

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Gibbs, W. J. 1995 'A Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 7 March 1995, Bureau of Meteorology

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