VH-AGE had been operating in the north west of Australia for some
months on charter to an overseas company doing an electromagnetic
survey of Timor Sea. This company provided their own data collecting
equipment and operating technicians, so all Adastra had to do
was provide a serviceable platform and fly it wherever the overseas
Main source of magnetic information was an enormous towed cesium
magnetometer which was aerodynamically unstable, requiring two
crew to control whenever it was in close proximity to the aircraft
as it was capable of doing spectacular aerobatics when it got
in the wake of the Hudson.
The job was nearing completion and we were looking forward to
getting back to home base and taking some leave. The final job
for our client was a magnetic profile of three lines to be flown
somewhere between Daly River and the Bastion, Wyndham.
Preparatory to our dawn takeoff, the skipper, Allan Walker and
I were met by our navigator on the front steps of our hotel and
informed that he was unable to carry out his flight duties that
day, and who knows maybe the next day too. This was too much for
me, so in a rush of fervour, I volunteered to do the navigating.
Allan agreed and the technicians said "that's fine",
so off we went.
I was quite comfortable sitting in the R.H. seat next to the pilot.
None of that up in the nose, getting punched in the eye with the
Aldis sight stuff for me. Didn't even need the intercom. Tap on
the shoulder and point if communication was needed, besides there
was the Smiths Gyrosyn compass with a dial as big as the face
on the town hall clock looking at us.
It was not difficult finding our start point, in fact there were
several, so it was just a matter of selecting the most obvious.
So it was bird out, gear on, camera on and we were on line. The
Bastion was looming and Allan did his impeccable rate turn which
brought us onto the reciprocal and the clients crew looked pretty
pleased with the quality of the data which was rolling in. The
next line was flown without any problems, so it was home James
and wait for the data to be processed. We were eager to know if
any of the flight lines were rejected so we headed down to the
client's headquarters to see how things went. We were greeted
with good news and bad news. O.K. the bad news first. The location
of the start point was in error and miles out of position. The
good news, all the work was accepted as all the lines flown were
straight and the spacing perfect and their geophysicist considered
this fact most important to the value of the Profile, and to our
astonishment, screwed up the original map from which we had flown,
produced a new chart and ruled in new lines exactly where we had
The Hudson departed for Sydney next day. I kept well away from
the flight deck on this trip as I had come to realize it was much
easier changing spark plugs and draining oil than trying to direct
the course of an aircraft.
I humbly acknowledge a fact that has been pointed out to me that
seeing that none of my navigational work has ever been rejected
I have a 100% success record as a survey nav. It also explains
why our navigationally oriented Operations Manager put me in hospital
for one night after a few friendly beers at De Marco's Essendon
21st July 2003
The missing Gyrosyn Compass
explained by Allan Walker:
"The Gyrosyn was installed where that big hole is. When we were operating
off shore we were using a French navigation system called Toran. The navigator
used to sit next to the Toran operator, back in the cabin, and relay the heading
changes to me on intercom. The Gyrosyn was then mounted next to the Toran display,
hence the hole in the panel. After all the off shore work was completed we had
a few days over land where visual navigation was required. The Gyrosyn would have
then been returned to the cockpit."