Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

James Swan - New England Aviator

Photo source.

This post simply records material taken from Jim Swan's web site. Given Jim's age, I am recording it so that it can be found at another source. I note that some of the photo links no longer work.

Jim writes:

"I WAS Born 1922 in Parramatta NSW. For 73 years my official place of residence was Girraween, 5 Km west of Parramatta.
An extract from the opening paragraphs of my "memoirs" titled "Flight of a Swan" suggests that very early attraction to matters of the surrounding environment existed. I quote:

"On a grassy sward in a Sydney backyard, a five year old boy sprawled beneath the branches of a plum tree, with the first blossoms of an early spring just visible against the blue sky which was sprinkled with the pure white of bubbly fair weather cumulus clouds.

He rolled over and gazed in awe at the sheer beauty of that sky which seemed to spread forever. It was during those few minutes of peaceful bliss that he felt he had a place up there with those clouds, that was where he intended to be at home, free as the air he breathed and part of the beauty of it all... He was going to fly!!"

As the years passed, his interest was captured by the magic of radio, first hearing a "crystal set" and somewhat later a "portable" valve set, an Airzone which had four bright shiny valves and cost a fortune to run on batteries. Then at the age of 12 or so the household acquired a four valve "Strad" which ran off mains power but received only the broadcast band which was a little disappointing as at my Grandmothers home I had been introduced to "short wave" and had actually heard overseas stations. However, I did find at the very bottom of the dial a small group of stations called "amateurs", who broadcast music and talked about radio after the commercial stations had closed for the night. It was a great thrill in the late seventies when as a new Amateur, I had a QSO with one of those Old Timers (No music hi hi).

So my radio career began by first repairing the ancient crystal set and making it work!! Then a spell of making single valve regenerative receivers from the debris of the "Airzone" which had passed its use by date. A couple of small amplifiers and a whacking great high quality speaker box brought my practical experience up to the mid 1970s.

The intervening years had not been wasted - I joined the Royal Australian Air Force the day I turned 18 and before aged 19 had commenced training as a pilot. I contrived to remain in the service until the last day of the wartime Airforce and returned to my clerical work with the Department of Main Roads. However, by late 1946 I had joined Trans Australia Airlines as a Pilot (First Officer) becoming a Captain (Training Captain) by 1954. At that time I transferred to East West Airlines to assist them in their expansion program. Having progressed through the ranks as Training Captain, Check Captain to Chief Pilot and becoming responsible for the pilot standards on F27, DC3, and the number of other types operated by the company. I decided to retire in 1975. I had over 21,000 hours and had flown 18 types of aircraft.

The RAAF experience ranged from Coastal Search and Surveillance, through Test and Ferry to Operational Recce and Bombing Strikes in the East Indies area.

During the airline service there were standard scheduled passenger flights, freighters, Air tours around Australia, training aircrew, testing pilots and a few delivery flights of new aircraft from Holland to East West Airlines. A very varied existence!!! However, when I retired I found that despite doing some private flying for enjoyment and instructing in instrument flying on a synthetic trainer, I still missed a component of my flying days, and that was the continuous use of radio communications. As CB was just coming into its own in Australia, I started to run a small 4 watt A.M. rig, normal range was about 40 miles but I did make DX to Kingaroy Queensland.

The legalisation of CB ruined that form of radio as it was swamped by masses of yahoos or whatever, so I decided that I would join the ranks of Amateur Radio."

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