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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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Ray Clarke Looks Back (continued)

I transferred to Head Office, Melbourne, in early 1963, joining the Facilities Section and working with such notables as Gwyn Court, Alf West, Reg Stout and later Tony Savory. For the next few years I became the Bureau's specialist on WF2 radars, filling the role of acceptance testing officer. I prepared the Bureau's acceptance specification and did all the field tests at Laverton and Bowes Avenue with the Plessey 'techs', generally George Tidy. I have good memories of these times. The work was very satisfying and responsibility was heavy. On the lighter side, I distinctly recall tracking Alf West's silver-plated ping pong balls to well over 25kilometres range. From memory, I think I got one particularly 'hot' radar to about 27 kilometres which may or may not have been a record.

In between acceptance testing and regular maintenance visits to the Mildura and Laverton WF2 radars, I became an active participant in the Installation Section working initially with Reg Stout, Bob Davis (the Canadian) and George Khan and having some involvement with Bill Green, Ray Missen and Rex Moncur. Later, Lex (Banjo) Patterson, Bob Brealey, Jay Evans and Isaac Bugalski joined the group, and later still Bruce Duck, Sid Owen and the late Bob West appeared on the scene in the late 1960s. In the middle 1970s Adrian Porter and Bob Lazdins were active members of the Installation Section up to the time of my departure in 1979. I look back now with pride and satisfaction on my installation career with the Bureau.

Over the period 1963 to 1979 I travelled extensively to all parts of the Bureau's network, being responsible for the implementation of over 35 major radar projects in addition to many site surveys, building inspections and minor installations of synoptic instruments and services.

My first installation occurred in June 1963 at Sydney Airport. A photograph taken at the time shows a much slimmer Ray Clarke with the US aircraft carrier Lexington in the background on Sydney Harbour. However, my first radar installation was the WF2 at Laverton in September 1964. During most of 1963 and early 1964 I was churning WF2 radars through the acceptance testing mill, whilst George Khan did the installations at Coffs Harbour, Oodnadatta, Mount Gambier and Moree. George Khan was a very personable fellow and a master of dry wit. He was also a good all-round 'tech' even though, like some of us, modern technology may have passed him by.

I like the story he told of when he was travelling over the water in a DC3 (probably going back to Honiara where he spent many years as Senior Observer (Radio)). He happened to sight oil pouring out of a motor, which was not uncommon in DC3s. The hostess passing by must have also been alerted and quickly came up to George and in her best customer-soothing voice breathlessly said "don't be alarmed, sir, nothing to worry about". George's poker-faced reply was a classic. "Why should I worry, love, it's not my aircraft." It was typical George Khan, one of nature's gentlemen. Unfortunately, George is no longer with us, but, wherever he is, he will be on top of the situation.


People in Bright Sparcs - Clarke, Raymond W.; Stout, Reginald William (Reg)

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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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