Although there was
no known association with Adastra, the pioneering Western Australian
operator Mac. Robertson Miller Airlines (MMA) did conduct aerial
photography operations with Anson and DC-3 aircraft. Some of these
operations are known to have been in conjunction with Kevron Photographics
Pty Ltd of Perth.
Under the headline Air Photography in The Freighter,
the MMA Staff News of April 1955 records:
|The amount of
work done by M.M.A. for the Lands and Survey Department has
increased following the completion of modifications to the
In recent weeks, aerial photography has been carried out for
the department over the Pilbara district, around Carnarvon
and in the South West.
After consultation with Douglas Aircraft Company and Pratt
& Whitney, it was decided that aerial photography in the
freighter could be done if necessary beyond 20,000 feet.
The necessary camera equipment has been designed so that it
can be interchangeable between a Douglas and an Anson.
This posed many problems for the engineering staff at Guildford
but they were all overcome.
In the Douglas, the camera installation employs a drift sight
mounted aft of the First Officer on the right-hand side of
the fuselage. The camera itself is mounted towards the rear
of the cabin on the right-hand side adjacent to the door.
The camera mounting is designed for the use of 6in lens for
high level photography, 12in. for medium level, and 25in.
for low level.
Because of the distance between the crew and the camera
operator, it was necessary to install two inter-communication
systems, one for high altitude work and the other for low
An oxygen installation has been put in for high level work.
Camera operators prefer to work in a Douglas because there
is more room and the working time is more or less unlimited.
In a Douglas, the camera installation is supplied with electric
power from the aircraft system, while in an Anson, it is supplied
from two batteries which need re-charging on the ground after
about six hours operation.
* Ed. The term "The Freighter" was
commonly used within MMA to describe DC-3 VH-MML so it seems
that this aeroplane was modified for photography as early
Under the headline
DC-3 Chartered From TAA, Slipstream of October 1956
|M.M.A. has chartered
a Douglas DC3 from Trans-Australia Airlines for three months
to help cope with a big increase in the demand for aerial
photography by the Lands and Survey Department.
The aircraft, VH-AES (Alpha Echo Sierra) was flown from Melbourne
by Captain George Meadows, F/O Ray Hames and Chief Engineer
While here, the aircraft will be used only for photography.
On arrival from Melbourne, it went into the workshops for
four days for modifications to take the photographic gear.
Two of M.M.A.'s DC3 aircraft VH-MML and VH-MMF are fitted
out for aerial photography but they could not be spared because
of scheduled traffic commitments.
The aircraft which will be flown and maintained by M.M.A.,
will be used for medium and high level photography (from 5,000
feet to 18,750 feet above ground level) covering large sections
of the State from Wiluna down to Esperance and across to Albany
In all, some 50,000 miles will be flown before the immediate
job is completed between now and Christmas.
Before bringing VH-AES back from Melbourne, F/O Ray Hames
ferried Anson VH-MMC to Sydney. The Anson has been sold to
Papuan Airways of Port Moresby.
Bulletin of January 1957 records the return of VH-AES to TAA
leaving "a considerable area of the south-west tip of the
State to be photographed by DC-3 VH-MML and Anson VH-MMH."
While with MMA, VH-AES flew more than 250 hours and was crewed
predominantly by F/O John Pierce assisted by F/O Eric Parr, both
of whom were experienced survey pilots. Various captains were
rostered on the aircraft during the charter.
MMA Slipstream of October 1957 records an aerial photography
project on behalf of the Lands and Surveys Department involving
an area of 60,000 square miles stretching from the Monte Bello
Islands to Lake Disappointment, an area almost as large as the
state of Victoria.
Slipstream of April 1958 records a project for the Lands
and Surveys Department which saw DC-3 VH-MML based at the remote
Giles weather station near the South Australian border. The aeroplane
was crewed by Captains Jack Murray and Bill Anderson and F/O John
Pierce. The remoteness of this base necessitated trucking fuel
from Alice Springs and positioning spare parts, engineers and
oxygen bottles on the aircraft from Perth. While based at Giles,
all personnel were accommodated in tents which were also flown
in on the aircraft.
Slipstream of March 1959 records that Anson VH-MMB is to
be sold leaving VH-MMH as the only Anson remaining in the MMA
fleet. VH-MMH Harding is "being retained for low level
aerial photography work."
Slipstream of April 1959 records that VH-MML spent a month
at Giles soon after which the aircraft spent nine days on a photography
project in the Port Hedland area. It is also stated that "a
pre-fabricated darkroom is installed before each project."
Slipstream of April 1960 records that DC-3 VH-MML departed
Perth at midday on 16 March 1960 for a 20,000 square mile key
strip photography project between Carnegie and Carnegie under
charter to Kevron Photographics Pty Ltd on behalf of the Lands
and Surveys Department. For this project the aircraft was based
at Carnegie. Included in the crew were Kevron's experienced photographers
Kevin Radford (the Kev in Kevron) and Alfred Wozencroft. The camera
used was a Wild RC8 (9in x 9in). The pilots on this project were
Captains George Meadows and Ray Brindley with First Officers John
Pierce and Brian Reid. MMA engineer Charles Scale provided maintenance
coverage. In addition to all the usual supplies that had to be
flown into this remote location, the aircraft also carried two
railway lines which were intended to be dragged by a tractor to
grade the airstrip! The MMA Annual Report for 1960, in referring
to this project, states that "MMA operates two aircraft which
may be readily converted for aerial photographic work."
In August 1961, Kevron Photographics Pty Ltd of Perth was awarded
a £43,000 Commonwealth Government contract for a photographic
survey of 60,000 square miles in the Kalgoorlie-Forrest-Esperance
area. The aircraft used was MMA's DC-3 VH-MML with two pilots,
two camera operators and a navigator. Flying commenced on 22 September
1961 and ended at Christmas that year. MMA's Jetstream
of July 1961 stated that the aircraft was fitted with two-stage
superchargers and "special propellors" which allowed
it to "operate safely as high as 28,000 feet." Reference
is also made to "modified heating systems ... to maintain
an average temperature of 68 degrees in the cabin and camera room
at high altitude."
Jetstream of July 1962 records the retirement of MMA's
last Anson VH-MMH Harding which concluded its last operational
flight at 1024 hours on 29 June 1962. Captain John Pierce had
just completed an aerial photo project in the Hammersley Ranges,
Onslow, Roebourne and Mount Magnet areas. It is stated that VH-MMH
was able to take any one of three different types of camera. On
retirement, VH-MMH had completed 4,360 hours. On 11 August 1962
VH-MMH was ferried to the Kingsley Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra
where it was elevated on concrete blocks in the school sports
area. Although no doubt done with the best of intentions, the
inevitable result was that the aircraft became derelict by 1964.
Jetstream of November 1962 records that the DC-3 freighter
VH-MML was being converted to a high density passenger aircraft
to meet traffic demands. The conversion was performed in-house
by MMA and included a demountable buffet for use on longer flights.
As shown below, VH-MML was fitted with 34 seats while still retaining
its convertible survey capability.
MMA Captain Reg Adkins operated several aerial survey flights
during his 32 years with the company. He retired in 1986 with
21,000 hours to his credit. His survey flights are recorded in
his log book as follows:
- Kalgoorlie Area - Kalgoorlie overnight.
Kalgoorlie - Esperance area - Kalgoorlie. Overnight.
Kalgoorlie area - Perth.
Perth area - Hi Altitude 25,000 ft for Kevron.
Cancelled due cloud (after 55 minutes flight)
Hi Altitude Photo for Kevron - Bencubbin, Tambellup, Narrogin,
Hi Altitude Photo. Cancelled due cloud (after 1 hour 20 minutes)
In October 1964, Reg
Adkins received the following letter from MMA.
|DC-3 PHOTO SURVEY....Kevron
charters with one dedicated a/c. MML fitted with 34 seats,
for Rottnest flights, and two speed blowers for hi-alt survey.
Had Mosquito type Paddle Blades. Letter to Adkins etc., 16-10-1964.
from service 29JUN62.
Ansett PNG 09MAR70.
Ansett PNG 10JAN69.
from TAA SEP-DEC56
Pty Ltd was established in Perth, WA in 1956 with Kevin W. Radford
as their Managing Director. In May 1963, Kevron purchased their
first aircraft, Cessna 185 VH-KPA. It was initially operated and
maintained by the Royal Aero Club of WA who at the time were temporarily
based at Perth Airport (Guildford) due to the closure of Maylands
aerodrome and delays in opening of the new Jandakot aerodrome.
The Aero Club provided a commercial pilot for Kevron. During 1963,
this Cessna 185 did extensive survey work in the Alice Springs
area and also in New Guinea. In April 1966, Beech Twin Bonanza
VH-KPB was imported from the USA, by which time Kevron were operating
their aircraft themselves. In March 1968, Beech 56TC Baron VH-KPY
was added. Later came other aircraft, for magnetometer survey
and overseas contracts including a large project in Iran during
the days of the expulsion of the Shah. By then, the Chief Pilot
was Ken Jones and the company had a large staff. In 2001, Kevron
was taken over by the Fugro empire which was founded in the Netherlands
in 1963 as Ingenieursbureau voor FUnderingstechniek en
to Reg Adkins, Geoff Goodall and Roger McDonald.