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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


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Some Memories from Ralph Bulloch

In Port Hedland in 1952, we had just completed a radiosonde flight and had drawn up the results. There appeared on the graph the indication of very high humidity from quite a low level to a very great height, as I remember. Later that day, over a well-earned beer, one of the local graziers asked me if I thought the dark low cloud indicated the possibility of good rain. I did not know he had other than a professional interest in possible new feed growth. Foolishly, thinking of the radiosonde trace, I said that it would rain in bucketfuls, more than likely two to three inches at least. Later that day, sure enough it simply poured down, flooding the place with a recorded fall of over four inches. The grazier collared me in the pub that night insisting on buying me a beer. On the basis of my say-so he had taken bets all round town that we would beat three inches. I was lucky that time; I never made a weather forecast again; it could easily have turned out nasty for me.

At Perth Airport one evening in the late 1960s, prior to a radar balloon flight, I checked the screen for echoes from any aircraft in the area. There was a very large echo, pulsating as it would from an aircraft, but it was absolutely stationary. The permanent echoes were all known and it was decidedly not one of them. Thinking it might indicate a hovering helicopter I contacted Air Traffic Control (ATC) which confirmed that no aircraft were in the area. Later, they did contact an incoming Viscount asking if he would investigate a possible UFO, to which the pilot flatly refused and came straight in to land. After completing my balloon flight I forgot all about the earlier incident. Some four to five days later I was surprised to have a visit from a RAAF officer and a civilian chap carrying a very weighty briefcase. They introduced themselves and the civilian said he had come from Canberra to investigate reports of an UFO. After a bout of questioning, noting the range and bearing of the offending 'blip', they left. They returned a few hours later, said the location of the target was a local electricity power station. Then I was amazed when the civilian said "we often get them located above power stations". He also told me that a woman reported seeing something strange, rang her husband on duty at the ATC radar in Kalamunda where he tracked an unidentified signal for some time. The two investigators gave me no official reason for their visit and that was the sum total of my experience with a UFO.

It was the winter of 1951 when an early Observer (Radio)s' course was being conducted in the training premises in Victoria Street, just across the way from the 'Pink Palace' (Ed—The Bureau's then Central Office building Frosterley at 2 Drummond Street, Carlton, which at one time was painted pink). The pupils, of which I was one, were three in number and our instructor, Kevin Lomas, had us huddled around an open fire in an attempt to keep warm. We were learning the weather code. Kevin told us not to worry about the various snow symbols as we would be most unlikely to encounter a use for them. Later that day, when looking out of the window, we saw snow falling and cars were coming into Melbourne, from the Dandenongs, bearing something like a centimetre of snow on their roofs. This was considered to be most unusual weather. It was 18 years later, when once again I visited Melbourne for a WF44 radar course, that it snowed again for the first time since 1951. I began to think that the name 'Abominable Snowman' could have applied to me.

People in Bright Sparcs - Lomas, K. C. (Kev)

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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

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