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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 7

I The First 100 Years 1788-1888

II Railways

III Motorised Vehicles

IV Aviation
i Local Inventions, Research, Design and Manufacture
ii The Development of Air Transport: The Trail Blazers
iii The Services
iv The Royal Flying Doctor Service
v Ground Aids and Safety Innovations
vi From Aviation to Modern Shipping

V Modern Shipping

VI Innovative Small Craft

VII Conclusion

VIII Acknowledgements

IX Contributors



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The Services

The England-Australia Air Race, won by Ross and Keith Smith, who landed in Darwin on 10 December 1919, was the indirect cause for the start of what was to become Australia's international airline and the second oldest airline in the world. Two young ex Flying Corps lieutenants, Hudson Fysh and P. McGinness had been given the job of surveying the last leg of the race and of preparing landing fields between Darwin and Queensland.[41] From their epic land journey came the conviction that air transport was the only reliable method of communication in the outback. With the backing of a grazier, Fergus McMaster, they registered, on 16 November 1920, an air company based at Winton, Queensland. Its name was the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited. The first two years were spent carrying joy-riding passengers, but in November 1922, the first regular service between Charleville and Cloncurry was inaugurated.

There were many difficulties in the early days, but the service was extended to Normanton and in 1928 Cloncurry became the base for the world's first flying doctor service, which was to be operated by QANTAS for the next 21 years.

In 1931 QANTAS Limited began its collaboration with Imperial Airways on the Australia-London run and carried mail between Brisbane and Darwin. In January 1934, the two airlines formed Qantas Empire Airways. QEA flew the Brisbane-Darwin sector, but in 1935 it took over the Darwin-Singapore sector from its partner. At the time, the 4,360 miles Brisbane-Singapore route, covered in 31/2 days, was the world's fastest commercial service.

In 1938, the Short 'Empire' Flying Boats were introduced on this route and QANTAS flew as far as Karachi until, in 1942, this route was cut off by the Japanese advance. QANTAS then began to operate the Catalina Flying boats between Perth and Ceylon. With the purchase of Constellations in 1947, the 'Kangaroo' Route to London via Singapore was inaugurated. A major world first was scored in 1958 when QANTAS became the first airline to offer a Round-World Service. In 1959, QANTAS became the first airline outside the United States to use Boeing 707 aircraft on its routes.[42]

Technically, QANTAS pioneered the use of Doppler navigators and the development of the 'Slide Raft' which is now standard equipment on all major world airlines.

Another pioneer in the transport field, cast in the mould of Hudson Fysh, was Reginald M. Ansett of Victoria. He obtained his flying licence (No. 419) in 1928, but his first transport enterprise, in 1931, consisted of a passenger service between Ballarat, Victoria and Maryborough, Victoria in a second-hand Studebaker car. To overcome the limitations imposed on the road transport by the State which favoured railways, Reginald Ansett moved into aviation and, using a second-hand Fokker Universal, began an air service between Melbourne and Hamilton on 17 February 1936. Ansett went public in April 1937.[43]

The fledgling company, in competition with the (second) Australian National Airlines (ANA) company, an offshoot of the Holyman shipping empire, was saved by the war and a government subsidy. Its main routes were, however, given to ANA for the duration of the war and were not returned at the expiration of hostilities. Ansett Airways had to survive on routes which had to include intermediate stops between capital cities, and the only way to compete was to offer cut fares. In the meantime, ANA felt the competition from the goverment-owned airline, Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) which was created in September 1946, after Chifley's unsuccessful attempt to nationalise ANA. TAA has shown significant enterprise and, for over a decade, pioneered the introduction of modern transport aircraft to Australia. In September 1948, TAA introduced the first pressurised aircraft, the Convair 240, and in 1953, the first domestic Prop Jets, Vickers Viscount 700s.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Ansett; Australian National Airways (A.N.A.) (second); Imperial Airways; Q.A.N.T.A.S. Limited; Qantas Empire Airways (Q.E.A.); Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (Q.A.N.T.A.S.); Royal Flying Corps (R.F.C.); Royal Flying Doctor Service; Trans Australia Airlines (T.A.A.)

People in Bright Sparcs - Ansett, R. M.; Fysh, Hudson; Holyman, Sir Ian; McGinness, P.; McMaster, Fergus; Schaetzel, Stanley S.; Smith, Keith

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 513 - 514, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher