News has come from Walter Smith’s daughter, Barbara Johnson, that he died on 11th December, and that a memorial service is being organised, probably late January or early February.
Walter Smith joined what was then the Air Survey Company (a subsidiary of Fairey Aviation) as Chief Surveyor in 1950, and left as Managing Director in 1977 to take up a post with the United Nations for two years. He was then appointed the first civilian Director General of the Ordnance Survey, a post he held until he retired in 1985.
Lawrence Scott remembers him with gratitude, as WP (as he was generally known in the company) recruited Lawrence in 1952 in Southern Rhodesia, when WP was Manager of the Air Survey Company of Rhodesia for three years, the subsidiary he set up in 1951.
A fairly detailed history of his life and career is on Wikipedia:
Attached are a number of photographs taken at the Fairey Surveys reunion held at White Waltham Cricket Club on 27th July 2018. This year it was at lunchtime, which seemed to work very well. Click on the photographs to see the full size version.
Derek Minter has passed on the information that Surjeet Singh Bansil died suddenly a few days ago at his home in Maidenhead:
Bansil (as he was known) was a Photogrammetic Instrument Operator at Faireys for many years He was a senior operator by the time I trained to work in that department in 1973. He remained on the staff until Christmas 1983 when the company, by then owned by Halcrow, made around half of the operators redundant. Some years later, and after the ESL takeover, he returned to work at the office in Reform Road but eventually was made redundant again and spent the remainder of his working life at a mapping company based in Worcester.
Bansil was a skilled and careful worker who was well respected by his colleagues.
I am sure our thoughts will be with his family at this difficult time.
Bansil is in the group photograph taken outside the Reform Road office in about 1979. He is number 85, in the top row – clip below, with Peter Timbrell, Tony Dady, R. Pandia, Fari Limoiee and Ken Pinkney, among others. The full group photograph is in the History section of the website.
We have had a report from Geoff Milsom that Ken O’Dell passed away last Sunday, 19th November. Ken had been suffering from dementia for some time. Condolences to his wife Beryl.
There are many gaps in the material we have on the website, and unfortunately we don’t have a photograph of Ken “Red” O’Dell – or at least not one where he has been identified. However, a quick look through the old newsletters shows Ken O’Dell out in Malta and Bechuanaland in 1957. In 1959 he was in Aden, then Rhodesia and Nyasaland on a Federal Surveys contract with Geoff Milsom, Paul Heimes, Brian Corbin, Adrian Workman and others with the Dakota ‘Charlie Tango’. The Company News in September 1973 reports him in Saudi Arabia. By 1978 Ken was Chief Engineer, and the February 1978 internal newsletter reports him out in Zanzibar, Nigeria and Liberia as ‘Travelling trouble shooter”. Was he ever at home?
The funeral will be at Easthampstead Park Crematorium, South Road, Wokingham RG49 3DW, on 6th December at 10:30.
Apologies to anyone who couldn’t access the FSL website today.
We have had to move the website to a new website hosting company. The old company was absorbed into a new one, but the users had to move their own data over. Not something we chose to do!
It all seems to be working now, although it is a bit slow at the moment. If it is still slow in a couple of days time, or you see any problems or missing bits, please reply to this post (below) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Historic Flight Foundation near Seattle, WA, have just acquired G-AHXW, a De Havilland DH.98A Dragon Rapide, that was owned for some years in the 1950s and 1960s by Fairey Aviation and then Fairey Surveys. They would like to hear about what sort of work it was doing, or any really interesting projects it may have been part of.
The museum has sent a couple of photographs of when the aeroplane arrived there on 31st March 2017, which are shown below. A trawl through the internet also found a photograph of G-AHXW in Fairey Surveys livery at White Waltham in 1965 on the website Air Photographic International (https://www.airphotographicinternational.com), which has hundreds of great photographs of old aircraft for sale, all identified with type, registration, location and date. Chris Knott, the owner of the website, has very generously allowed us to publish the photograph here.
If you have any information you would like to share, please reply, below, or send an email to email@example.com, and we’ll pass on your details to the museum, or contact them direct at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The website has been contacted by Bruce Hales-Dutton, who has been asked by the monthly magazine ‘Aeroplane’ to write an article about Fairey Surveys. The idea is to write about the aircraft, particularly the DC-3s, and to use the memories and stories of the Fairey Surveys staff who were involved with them, in whatever capacity.
Mr Hales-Dutton is a freelance aviation writer and journalist, whose name appears on at least one published aircraft book, about the Comet.
If you would like to send in a story to be used, or would like to talk to Mr Hales-Dutton, please leave a reply below, or send an email to email@example.com and we’ll pass on your details to him.
There are a few stories already on the website, but there must be many more. Rob Wallace remembers a search through the huge Enugu market in Nigeria for a special 5 foot long Pratt and Whitney spanner to change the engine on a DC-3. Astonishingly, the search was successful, and the engine was changed, but the process, with much arm-waving and sign language, was pure entertainment.
Please let us know if you have any stories you would like to share.