Fairey Air Surveys/White Waltham Connection

Geoff Milsom, former Chief Pilot of Fairey Surveys, contributed “The Record of Air Survey” article on the Home page from his files, and wrote the following notes to extend the history from 1955.

Notes on the Fairey Air Surveys/White Waltham Connection

The article “The Record of Air Survey” is taken from an old brochure circa 1955.

At that time the company had about a dozen pilots and operated three Dakotas, two Doves and a Rapide.

I am not very sure about the fleet before that, as I was away on lengthy overseas tours from 1947 to 1957 but I seem to remember there was an Oxford, an Avro XIX, an Auster, an Aerovan!!  Mike Young may be able to verify the fleet details.

The aircraft were hangared/parked and maintained by Fairey Aviation Company on the North side of the aerodrome at that time.  In fact, they were probably owned by FAC, but I am not sure of that.

Around the time of the Westland take-over, the survey company moved most of the staff into Maidenhead – i.e. admin, photographic laboratory, drawing office, mapping machines, etc.  Just the flying unit remained at White Waltham.

This may have been 1963?

A couple of years later (1965?) we moved to the South side of the airfield to be maintained by Jim Kelly and his merry men alongside all those RAF Chipmunks.  Jim’s section was now taken over by Short Bros.

I am sorry to be so vague about the timing of all this but no doubt the dates of the Westland involvement can be verified elsewhere.

Probably the best known of the company’s aircraft was the Dakota ‘Whisky Charlie’ (G.ALWC).  It was ‘home-based’ and operated for more than 20 years out of White Waltham and Farnborough on contract to the Ministry of Defence for flight trials of various sorts of airborne equipment.

Our main line of work was air photography for mapping (worldwide) but we also flew many hours of airborne geophysics i.e. with a magnetometer and scintillometer for oil/uranium exploration, etc.

The company also carried out airborne infra-red line scan surveys in France, Holland and the UK generally for heat loss investigation.

Thunderstorm research was also on the agenda in 1969 on behalf of RAE Bedford and the Bracknell Met Office.  This was a project with a view to the avoidance of thunderstorm tops by cruising supersonic airliners.  One of our Dakotas (Charlie Tango) was fitted with some special equipment at Bedford and our job was to measure the tops.

Incidentally, the highest top we measured was 65,000 ft. (in Bengal).

I am sure most of this is irrelevant but it tells you something about the company.

In 1968 a third Dove was purchased followed in 1972 by two Queen Airs – and at this time a Dove and a Dakota were phased out.

In 1974 the company was included, briefly, in an association called Fairey Britten Norman Air Services.  It lasted barely a year and did not affect our operations but it did enable BN to sell us a couple of Islanders that we did not really want!!

In 1980 the company was purchased by Clyde Petroleum and the name was changed to Clyde Surveys.

Operations continued as before but, by now, overseas contracts were less plentiful and gradually the fleet was reduced.

Sometime in the early 1980s Sir William Halcrow and partners bought the company from Clyde Petroleum, but we continued to trade as ‘Clyde Surveys’.

In 1982 we lost the Farnborough contract due to defence cut-backs, so that was the end of Whisky Charlie.

The reduction of the fleet continued until, by the mid-1980s, we were operating just one Queen Air.

The flying unit was eventually closed down in April 1990.

This does not seem to tell you much about the history of White Waltham – it is more a short account of a company whose home was White Waltham.

I hope it helps.

Geoff Milsom

Reunion 2012

Pictures from the reunion held at White Waltham in July 2012.  Please let us have any other pictures you have, with a note of who is in the pictures.

Reunion 2004

Pictures from the reunion at White Waltham in July 2004

Marketing newsletters

These were the glossy newsletters sent out to customers, potential customers and survey organisations.  Lawrence Scott has contributed a full set of the Fairey Surveys newsletters from January 1969 to January 1980, and two of the Clyde Newsletters which followed on from the Faireys newsletters – and carried on the same numbering.

The photos don’t always come out very well online.  If you select the ‘Download’ icon from the top right hand corner of the picture, then click to open the file with Adobe Reader, the photos are much clearer.

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 1 – Jan 1969

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 2 – May 1969

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 3 – Sep 1969

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 4 – Jan 1970

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 5 – Jun 1970

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 6 – Oct 1970

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 7 – Apr 1971

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 8 – Aug 1971

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 9 – Nov 1972

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 10 – May 1973

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 11 – Nov 1973

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 12 – Jun 1974

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 13 – Oct 1974

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 14 – Apr 1975

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 15 – Dec 1975

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 16 – Nov 1976

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 17 – May 1977

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 18 – Jan 1978

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 19 – Jun 1978

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 20 – Dec 1978

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 21 – Jun 1979

Fairey Surveys Newsletter 22 – Jan 1980

Clyde Surveys Newsletter 23 – Jun 1980

Clyde Surveys Newsletter 25 – Dec 1981

Internal FSL newsletters

These were the typed documents circulated just to the staff, with information on where the operations people were, what the departments were doing, and joiners and leavers.  If anyone has kept any other editions, please let us borrow them to scan and include here …

FSL Company News 248 7Sep72

Edition 256 was very faint, and in parts very difficult to read when scanned, so it has been retyped and included as a Word document, below.  The original scanned paper copy is also attached as a PDF document, in case any errors have been introduced in the retyped copy.

FSL Company News 256 23Aug72

Original scanned paper copy below:

FSL Company News 256 23Aug72

FSL Company News 258 3Nov72

FSL Company News 272 12Mar73

FSL Company News 299 6Sep73

FSL Company News 325 21Dec73

 

People

Photos of Fairey Surveys employees, then and now …

Aircraft

Pictures of Fairey Surveys’ aircraft then and now.  Click on a photo to enlarge the image.

 

DC3 GAMCA in Fairey Surveys livery
DC3 GAMCA in Fairey Surveys livery
DC3 GAMCA with boom magnetometer
DC3 GAMCA with boom magnetometer
Two views of DC3 G-ALWC: above flying with one engine, and below safely on the ground
Two views of DC3 G-ALWC: above flying with one engine, and below safely on the ground
Britten Norman Islander G-AVKC
Britten Norman Islander G-AVKC
Beechcraft Queen Air G-AZOH with magnetometer
Beechcraft Queen Air G-AZOH with magnetometer
Geoff Milsom with Beechcraft Queen Air in Port Stanley in the Falklands
Beechcraft Queen Air in Port Stanley in the Falklands
Two of the Fairey Air Surveys DC3 aircraft - no indication of where this was taken
Two of the Fairey Air Surveys DC3 aircraft
Dove GAKSS
Dove GAKSS
DC3 PHALR ex-GAMCA
DC3 PHALR ex-GAMCA
DC3 GLWC in Clyde livery
DC3 GLWC in Clyde livery

 

Whisky Charlie returning to ww over Woodlands Park - Maidenhead Road 1966 ish
Whisky Charlie returning to ww over Woodlands Park – Maidenhead Road 1966 ish
Whisky Charlie awaiting john rushton & graham bridges 1964.
Whisky Charlie awaiting john rushton & graham bridges 1964.