Page 1271
Previous/Next Page
Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
Table of Contents

Radio Technical Officers





Chapter 1: The Early Years

Chapter 2: The Training School

Chapter 3: Equipment Installation Records

Chapter 4: The 'Techs' in Antarctica

Chapter 5: The 'Techs' Tell Their Stories
Trevor Donald Tells It All; Life in the Bureau from 1947 to 1989
Ray Clarke Looks Back
Some Memories from Ralph Bulloch
Peter Copland Works in Meteorological Electronics
Some Titbits from Dave Grainger
A Very Modest Tale from Alf Svensson
Adrian Porter Pulls No Punches
Jack Tait Recalls
Some Stories by Colourful Freddie Soutter
Some Snippets from Noel Barrett
Stephen CourbÍt Has His Penny Wworth
And a Flyspeck or Two from Lenny Dawson
Some Interesting Reminiscences from Jannes Keuken
Brief Stories from Phil Black
From Gloria West, Wife of the Late Bob West
The Life and Bureau Times of Graham Linnett
Tales Out of School from Bill Hite
Peter Copland on Cyclone Tracy
Peter Broughton Tells the Story of Maralinga

Appendix 1: 'Techs' Roll Call

Appendix 2: Trainee Intakes

Appendix 3: 'Techs' Who Have Served in the Antarctic Region

Appendix 4: Summary of Major Installation Projects

Appendix 5: Summary of Major Equipment Variously Installed at Sites and Maintained by Radio Technical Officers


Contact us

Peter Copland on Cyclone Tracy (continued)

I can only remember one organisation that took much notice of the cyclone warnings. This was Northern Territory airline, Connair; they flew out all their airworthy aircraft to Katherine on Christmas Eve. Within 12 hours, almost every aircraft in Darwin was either badly damaged or destroyed.

Spent several hours playing with the radar during the afternoon, trying to follow the movement of any identifiable cells in the circulating rain bands in the system. This endeavour proved to be quite impossible. I was hoping to be able to find a cell in the wall and measure its speed as it travelled within the wall; one could not even see any real movement in the leading edges of the rain bands. With the 185 km/hr winds reported from Bathurst Island AWS, some high speed movement of something should have been observable.

On the PPI display, Tracy seemed like a Star Trek monster, slowly approaching, swallowing up everything in its path. My only real achievement was a series of 35 mm photographs taken in the afternoon and early in the night; most of these ended up in the official report.

I don't think it even started to rain much 'til after 8 pm, and then not too much wind. This changed, soon, and it was becoming wet and windy by 9 pm. Around 11 pm a phone call from the Observer, isolated at the airport, reported that the PPI had failed. Question; to go or not to go? Stupidity won, and I drove to the airport. Fortunately I used our new Suzuki (the original mini 4x4) as, in several places, I had to climb over the footpath and road divider strips. The radar came good with resetting of the PPI overload. The Observer at the radar, Vince Shuey, seemed to have been left on his own by the organisation, but then it was probably a fairly safe place. Would have been rather hairy by oneself though.

Not too much trouble getting home in the Suzuki with a 90 plus km/hr tailwind. Later, maybe 12.30 am, Vince rang again with a different problem which we managed to fix over the phone. Shortly after we were peering out with a spotlight and saw the overhead phone cable from the street cut by a sheet of flying roofing iron. No more radar to worry about. The power had been off for several hours by now. Things were getting a bit serious. About 3 am all became quiet; the eye. Calculating 30 minutes in the clear, we moved, post-haste, with our school-teacher neighbours to the high school. What was a normal five minute trip took 20 minutes and nearly exhausted our window of opportunity. Ian completed the last 500 metres with a flat tyre in true movie fashion.

Previous Page Bureau of Meteorology Next Page

Clarke, R. 1999 'Stories of the Bureau's Radio Technical Officers from 1948', Metarch Papers No. 14 February 1999, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher