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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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Brief Stories from Phil Black

I joined the Bureau in 1973 after being in the RAAF for a period of six years. I had Trevor Donald as my boss for all my time in the Bureau; a nicer man you couldn't meet. The wide range of skills I acquired over the years until I left in 1979 have served me well; and the experiences and dramas I still look back on fondly.

I don't know which stories to tell because some are too embarrassing for the persons involved. I remember high voltage shocks, getting off the train at Coffs Harbour at 3 am, sleeping on floors and in panel vans, lots of travelling, major breakdowns on Friday afternoons, thunderstorms at Mascot with the WF44 radar out of action, seeing most of New South Wales by road, train and air, some hair-raising trips from Wagga to Canberra in heavy fog in a small commuter plane, visiting the NASA flying observatory and cold windy Canberra mornings trying to get the WF3 ready for the balloon launch and then having a secondary fault just as you were ready to go home.

Some of the field trips were a lot of fun, driving hundreds of kilometres and visiting out of the way places. We once tried to set up the whole of the Macleay River telemetry system, which used a primitive tuning process by today's standards, without a milli-voltmeter. Impossible!

I remember unloading the van at Point Lookout only to get a sudden shock as two Mirage fighters flew directly above me at very low altitude and at very high speed.

I remember camping at Bellbrook and driving to Highrent up the 11 kilometre hill which was either very muddy and slippery or dusty, staying at the motel at Ebor before going on to the Byron Bay lighthouse (my favourite destination), staying in the spare house there and chatting with the lighthouse keeper, tuning the klystron, climbing the radar tower in the howling wind, hanging over the rail when a major overhaul was underway, painting, scraping, greasing and fine tuning. We were 'Mexican Micks' in the old days.

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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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