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Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology


Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1929–1946 by Allan Cornish
Chapter 1: My Early Days in the Bureau
Chapter 2: Some New Vistas
Chapter 3: The RAAF Measures Upper Air Temperatures
Chapter 4: The Bureau Begins to Grow
Chapter 5: My Voyage in Discovery II
Chapter 6: The Birth of the Instrument Section
Chapter 7: Darwin Days
Chapter 8: I Leave the Bureau

History of Major Meteorological Installation in Australia from 1945 to 1981 by Reg Stout

Four Years in the RAAF Meteorological Service by Keith Swan

The Bureau of Meteorology in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s by Col Glendinning


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Chapter 3: The RAAF Measures Upper Air Temperatures

Barkley initiated the use of aircraft for the measurement of upper air temperature. He persuaded the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to make regular meteorological flights. He made a personal approach to Wrigley, Commanding Officer of Laverton RAAF Station, and the proposal was then sent to Department of Air, where it was approved. Flights were initially made from Point Cook (later Laverton) and Richmond.

In addition to reading the thermometer mounted on the strut between the wings of the biplane we persuaded the young RAAF pilots to make observations of the heights of bases and tops of cloud layers.

I remember Eric Read was then a Flight Lieutenant and he made the best cloud notes of all. I used to go down to Laverton and Point Cook fairly frequently to meet the young pilots because it was my responsibility to gather the results by telephone from them when their flight was completed.

The early upper air meteorological flights were carried out in a single seater Bulldog aircraft without radio. The flights were difficult. After take-off at about 8.30 or 9am the aircraft climbed to 16,000 feet, levelling off each 2,000 feet for some minutes for the thermometer to stabilise. The main objective then was to return to the ground safely. In bad weather when they had completed their observations and had descended to find overcast conditions at low altitudes they would try to descend over the sea. Tooradin railway station was one of their landmarks. The sight of a railway line was often a navigation aid. With no radio in the aircraft navigation was extremely difficult.

People in Bright Sparcs - Cornish, Allan William

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Cornish, A., Stout, R., Swan, K and Glendinning, C. 1996 'Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 8 February 1996, Bureau of Meteorology

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