The following notes are extracted from the book written by David Wilson, “Alfresco Flight, the RAAF Antarctic Experience”. Details of specific flights are mentioned where details are known but the aircraft flew many other sorties on reconnaissance, photographic and depot support flights as well”
The notes highlight the problems encountered by both the flight and ground crews in the tough environment.
Current information can be found at http://www.antarctica.gov.au/ as well as Wikipaedia
After the loss of the aircraft in Dec-1960 the proposed Flight for the 1960 & 1961 season was stood down
1961 & 1962 Season.
Discussion at Government level was initially ambivalent as to whether the provision of an aircraft was a necessary benefit to the Antarctic Research Expedition but following a request for support VH-PGL (2) was allocated
The aircraft was then used for floatplane training for the chosen Flight and it was while on this task that it damaged a float strut when landing on rough water on 02-Oct-1961. Because of the late notification of the proposed deployment too much organisational work hindered the little time available for a comprehensive training programme at Gippsland Lakes near Paynesville, Victoria, however, the Flight was duly considered competent towards the end of December 1961.
They duly embarked on the MV Thala Dan and left Melbourne on 22-Dec-1961. The Thala Dan anchored off Lewis Islet on the 29-Dec-61 and a photographic sortie was flown east along the coast to Rock X and to the Dibble Gacier tongue.
On the 30-Dec-1961 it flew 120 miles to the west to Cape Mose. Two days later, 01-Jan-1962, it flew a radar heighting flight which took it eighty miles inland and landed back at midnight, in the gloaming, (thought you’d like that bit, Neil) just after the sun had dipped below the horizon.
The next day open water allowed a further flight to photograph Cape Goodenough and the May Glacier tongue. The ship now moored at Wilkes depot on 10-Jan-1962. From here, still on floats, the aircraft flew a reconnaissance to the Vanderford Glacier to the west followed by a geological flight to the Ballany Islands.
A spark plug change was completed on the water on 12-Jan-1962 in extremely cold conditions.
On 14-Jan-1962 a further rader heighting run penetrated 80 miles south of Ivanoff Head and was followed by an ice pack reconnaissance flight to the north and west of the Wilkes base. The last flight from Wilkes was to the Totton Glacier prior to flying 120 miles into the interior from the base.
Thala Dan now moved to Chick Island arriving on 22-Jan-1962 where the automatic weather station was serviced. While this was completed the Beaver flew on two three and a half hour flights. One was to the west of the island and the other some 80 miles inland and during the following day it again flew to the Totton Glacier and then penetrated inland of Cape Milhoylov for some 80 miles.
The Beaver was not flown again until 17-Feb-1962 when a photographic flight was made from Penguin Point to Cape Freshfield flying within 30 miles of the (magnetic) pole with the return flight hampered by snow storms.
The ship arrived at Davis base on the 02-Mar-1962 with the aircraft having previously flown a further photographic flight from Thala Head to Williamson Head. Once at Davis further heighting flights were made inland of up to 50 miles from Williamson Head with the final flight from the base being one of four hours from Thala Island to Renwick Bay.
The ship together with the Beaver now returned via Macquarie Island to Mebourne arriving on 08-Mar-1962. During this period with the Thala Dan the Flight had completed 24.sorties, flying for 79hrs and 15 minutes, covering some 7,000 miles including 1,800 on photographic tasks.
The aircraft returned to de Havilland Australia, Bankstown, NSW for maintenance later in the month.
The final operations of the Antarctic flight with the Beaver and In particular, A95-205 commenced with the new Flight personnel training from Point Cook, VIC from 16-Oct-1962. An incident occurred on 28-Nov-1962 when, because of rough seas in the bay near Point Cook, Gary Gordon Cooper was forced to land on the Werribee River. However the river was not wide enough for the aircraft to turn round and it had to be towed out tail first.
Once again the aircraft embarked on The MV Thala Dan on floats from Melbourne on 22-Dec-1962 arriving at Lewis Islet on 06-Jan-1963 where the weather station received attention. On this day a photographic run was made between Cape Carr and Lewis Islet. The Beaver again flew on 10-Jan-1963 making two sorties to the Rock X area.
The ship attempted to move to Chick Island but thick ice prevented it so it set course for Wilkes base.
The aircraft next flew on 11-Jan-1963 to drop post, mail and tractor parts to the Vostok party which was travelling 1800 miles between Wilkes and the Russian base of Vostok in the centre of Australian Antarctic Territory, and back. Gary Cooper stated that the winds were such that when the drop was being made he needed to complete a series of “S” turns to keep the aircraft on station and virtually stationary above the drop zone.
On the 13-Jan-1963 day a new rocky outcrop was discovered near Cape Waldron. This was of some significance as being a solid object in a constantly changing landscape it could be used for astrofixing.
Poor weather precluded flying until the 19-Jan-1963 when two glaciologists were taken on a low level reconnaissance of the Vanderford and John Quincey Glaciers. The flight however ended in a forced landing in the sea off Ivanoff Head after the engine initially suffered reduced power and then stopped completely. A Mayday call had been made to the Thala Dan and a rescue mission was put into operation using two Bell 47G helicopters that had been embarked on the ship. The rescue ended up with the aircraft spluttering over a six mile taxi to where the Thala Dan had moved to receive it.. It was then lifted on board.
The aircraft engine was repaired and was ready to fly again on 02-Feb-1963 when it flew an ice reconnaissance flight. Various attempts to reach Chick Island and Porpoise but it was not until 04-Feb-1963 the the ship reached Chick Island and on the 08-Feb it flew to Wilkes to pick up spares for the Chick Island weather station. The next day the aircraft was employed on a four hour photographic flight over the area.
After being held in ice for some twelve days the ship made for Oates Land and the Beaver was not flown until 27-Feb-1963 when the pitot tube was damaged when the aircraft landed. This was repaired but a second flight was aborted when the aircraft suffered radio failure. Also the sea spray had frozen to the tailplane under the surface of the wings and on the floats during take off – the conditions were totally unsuitable for floatplane operations.
The ship now moved on to Maquarie Island, arriving on 28-Feb-1963. It was intended to use the Beaver to photograph the island but the eight foot swells stopped the aircraft to take off and it was lifted back on to the ship safely, with great difficulty. Tattempt to fly the Beaver in southern waters as the ship reached Melbourne on 11-Mar-1963. The his was the final
A total of 66 hours was flown in 25 sorties between 05-Jan-1963 and 06-Mar-1963. The RAAF Antarctic Flight comprised Squadron Leader John Batchelor, Pilot Officer Garry Gordon Cooper, Flight Sergeant A.K. Richardson (engines and airframes) and Corporal D.D. Tiller (electrics and instruments).The Flight was formally disbanded on 05-Apr-1963.
After its 1962-1963 expedition, the RAAF Antarctic Flight was disbanded and owing to commitments in Malaya and, later, Vietnam the RAAF’s role in close aircraft support for ANARE operations ceased. However, the RAAF subsequently made long range flights to Antarctica.
Note: As A95-205 it continued to wear the International orange overall scheme with day-glo red wing panels, rear fin, rudder and tailplanes but with black serials on the rear fuselage. It wore the ANARE Antarctic map in 1961 and the standard bounding kangeroo roundels on the fuselage was added in 1962, although it appears these were later removed. Reportedly no roundels were applied to the wings but ANARE titles were applied to the upper and lower port wing.
• VH-PGL(2) Re regd to Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE). Delivered 19-Nov-1964.
Note: Again wore the same orange and dayglo scheme but a revised ANARE Leopard Seal badge on the fuselage sides. Registration in black on tail fin with large registration on port wing and ANARE on starboard wing.
This season ANARE flew the aircraft under its own authority but nothing is known of its activities on the sub continent. It is known however that on 07-Feb-1965 while on ski/wheels it boke through sea ice but was supported by airbags until recovered.
• CF-AWA AirWest Airlines, Cowley, Vancouver, BC. Regd May-1970. Operated until circa 1980/81 (P/E).
Accident: Fraser River. BC. Lat 49.11N, Long 123.11W. 14-Apr-1981. During climb after take-off the engine stopped due to fuel starvation. The pilot turned steeply to avoid a bridge, collided with a pylon, stalled and struck the ground. The fuel tank selector on this aircraft is different from all others in the carrier's fleet and after the accident the selector was found on the rear tank which was empty.
• C-FAWA Air BC Ltd., Richmond, BC. On CCAR for May-1981. Canx 04-Dec-1985.
• C-FAWA Baxter Aviation Ltd., Nanaimo, BC. Regd 28-Mar-1990 & 29-May-2002. Canx 17-May-2007.
• C-FAWA West Coast Air Ltd. Vancouver BC. Regd 17-May-2007. Canx 09-May-2008. Regd 30-May-2008. Canx 21-May-2010. Regd 04-Jun-2010. Canx 11-May-2012
• C-FAWA Harbour Air Ltd. Richmond BC Regd 15-May-2012.
Converted to PT-6A-34 750HP turbine power. Details shortly. Noted complete at YVR in September 2020.