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Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
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Table of Contents

Radio Technical Officers

Foreword

Acknowledgements

Preface

Introduction

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


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Peter Broughton Tells the Story of Maralinga (continued)

When I boarded a Viscount at Essendon on my way to Maralinga I found the captain was an old friend of mine, and I was invited up front for a look at the new features of the aircraft. He went to great length to demonstrate how he could get all the information he required from the equipment on board and didn't need the weather services provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. As I took my seat afterwards I had to confess his demonstration was very convincing, but my attention was taken up by another feature of the aircraft which fascinated me for the rest of the flight. My seat over the wing had earlier prevented me from viewing the ground below, but now I noticed the wing below me flexing in constant movement ripples moving out and back between the wing root and the tip. I had often seen the wings of aircraft behave like this in the Structures Section at Farnborough during WWII, but they were on aircraft that had been subjected to extreme stress and which had to be removed from service and scrapped. I understand that the Viscount had a short life in Australia so considered myself fortunate not to have to fly in one on returning to Melbourne.

The journey in the Overland was slow and uneventful and at 6 am the following morning the steward called me to prepare for journey's end. When he unlocked the door of the sleeping car I was blinded by the headlights of a vehicle at the side of the track. The steward warned me it was a long way to jump but I never realised just how far the carriage was from the ground. When I jumped into the headlight glare it seemed ages before I hit the ground. The top of my head was in line with the stewards feet as he stretched down to hand me my luggage. Jack Giles introduced himself as we drove to the guardhouse where the duty sergeant offered me a cup of cocoa and a fist of security forms to fill in saying he hadn't the foggiest idea who I was. Jack was in a hurry to start the morning balloon flight so we travelled the 40 kilometres at high speed through dense salt bush to Maralinga beside the unfinished main road. It was difficult to find something to hold on to as we bounced over the pot holes in his Land Rover; alright for Jack, he had hold of the steering wheel. I wasn't so lucky and the cushion under me soon parted company with the seat, so there was no alternative but to hang on to the roof. We arrived at the village just in time to start the flight. Jack was thankful to learn that I had been fully trained to carry out radiosonde and wind flights as he said he was tired of doing all the wind flights on his own. Apparently the station had to be made operational at short notice. Ray Missen and Charlie Holman had both been posted there before the Melbourne course finished and neither had been able to perform slide rule computations operationally.

Since the village was still under construction the radiosonde complex then only consisted of two Wiles garages housing the radiosonde equipment and chemicals and a balloon filling shed capped by a theodolite post which could be accessed by a vertical wooden ladder. It was the chemical store that intrigued me; a large number of bags of six inch nails weighing at least a hundred kilograms were stacked in a corner. "What are they for?" I asked Jack. He explained that Ray Missen was building his own house at the time and wanted to take them home with him. The pilot refused to accept them as excess baggage, throwing them off the aircraft. For all I know they may still be there.


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

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