Thursday, December 30, 2010

South Pacific Survey 21th July 1951

Spent most of the morning writing and the afternoon on the reef just outside the door with goggles on. The number of fish in the lagoon has to be seen to be appreciated and can only be seen from underneath.

Had a little nap in the afternoon, to get ready for a little party the Salters are having for us and as we are probably flying tomorrow on photography, we will have to stick to Ginger Ale. The party was quite a success, the native girls doing the hula, which was not quite as good to look at as the Bora Bora. They did it here in dresses which probably detracted from the dance considerably.

After a very nice supper, I retired, as we have to get up at 6am.

Editors note: This is the last entry in the diary-I presume he got home OK!
At last my job here is done. My next task if I get round to it is to gather all the posts together into one Microsoft Word file and maybe make this available for download from my CAD site.

I found a letter from Geoff Wells, who was Engineering Manager at the time, (he has written a book too!) which advised Lauthala Bay RNZAF that the plane was due back on 3rd of August, and to give the plane a wash down etc. It was to remain there until 29th of August, so I imagine Cliff would have gone home by other means. I am intending to read Maurice McGreal's book, "Civil Aviation in New Zealand" which will probably detail this out.

The only other things I can think of to do are to scan things like his Pilot's Licence and so on.
Any other photos I can rake up might get posted too.

I can now go back and label some of the pictures that I was unable to title at the time of posting.

I found as well a sheet labelled Air Department, which listed travelling expenses for the various islands. You might be amused to know that Aggie Grey's in Western Samoa clocked in at 25 shillings per day. That is about $2-50!

South Pacific Survey 20th July 1951

Spent some of the morning writing to the boys and Doris to send some stamps. Cost me 1 pound and 6 shillings for stamps too. The Public Works people let us go to "town" in their truck which was going out to forage for food.

After posting the letters we went off around the hills and bush to see the breadfruit man, the egg man, and the taro man. Each one we came to supplied only one commodity and I guess that it must be almost as expensive to live here as it is in NZ.

Eggs 2 pennies each but by the time you put fuel on, wear and tear, the driver's time, and the purchaser's time, an egg must have cost as much as 5 pennies.

It was however an interesting drive, all the native houses set in amongst coconut and banana palms. No one very sick, no one very poor, but in the main, happy.

Spent the afternoon cleaning up my writing and went for a short walk.

South Pacific Survey 19th July 1951

The party spent the day down the lagoon and I spent most of it writing. Not much to write about today as far as the Airway is concerned.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

South Pacific Survey 18th July 1951

The day broke cold and stormy with the seas pounding the reef not far away from our quarters and some concern was felt for the old Catalina at moorings down the far end of the lagoon.

After breakfast went up to the meteorological office and from the rather meagre information I was able to gather, and a signal which came in later it was evident that we were in for a rather bad blow.

I estimated that there was a depression to the east, not far away and it would cross Aitutaki. The barometer was falling and the wind rising, so I suggested to take the crew down to the aircraft to ensure it was secure at the moorings.

The rain was torrential, and we pushed out onto the lagoon and after a 50 minute run, we arrived at the Catalina. It was too rough to go alongside with the launch, so I swam over and climbed aboard.

The old Catalina was riding the weather well, and after putting on another rope as a precuationary measure, pumping the bilges dry, turning the engines over once again, closed all hatches and then leapt into the sea and swam for the launch.

The storm abated in the afternoon and after frittering most of it away gathering some shells, went off to bed.

South Pacific Survey 17th July 1951

A little work in the morning, but spent most of the afternoon writing and in the evening went to bed for the want of something interesting to do. Some of the party spent a rather miserable afternoon on the lagoon in the rain.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Meeting with Maurice McGreal

(This is Bill speaking here, not Cliff)
About two weeks ago I had the honour to meet with Mr Maurice McGreal, who was the first officer on the South Pacific Survey Trip.

He has written two books on his experiences, and these can be found in public libraries in New Zealand.

One is called "A Noble Chance" and can be found at:

The other is called "Civil Aviation in New Zealand" and can be found at:

Maurice obviously had a thorough knowledge of the survey and in fact had taken many of the photos posted here, and I am afraid I dragged him through a whole bunch of them asking where they were taken. One of my next jobs is to go back through the postings of the photos and label them.

Additionally, he was able to give me some information which he said was OK to post here, so this hopefully will get done over the Xmas holidays.

On a connected note, I see that the hanger at Motat (The Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand) is looking about finished.

The Short Solent Mk. IV ZK-AMO, is out in the elements at the moment waiting to go back under shelter. I found a photo at:

I have looked for quite a while (Even on the Motat official site!) but the best photo of of the new hall is here:

I thought it was a $2m building, but apparently is $10.9M, so it should be pretty impressive when finished.