History : Keith Maynard
"Spirits of Ansett"
2nd October 1985
It is with great pleasure that I join with you today in your "get together" of personnel who have served the Company over many years under the Ansett Airline flag and it certainly delighted us all, I'm sure, to hear from the State Manager, Jim Parkinson facts and figures covering achievements and predictions past, present and future of Ansett Airlines.
Those of us who had some share in early operations of the airline industry are proud to reflect on its advanced achievements. For this reason I thought some of my early associations might prove of interest to you here today.
After a period of 10 years with the Holyman Company on the shipping side of their operations at Ulverstone, Stanley, Melbourne and Launceston, I was in 1932 transferred to the small airline office of the company. A decision had been made by the directors, on the instigation of the late Victor Holyman, to set up an airline operation as he had experience in this field serving in the R.A.F. years before. He was also a sea captain as well and was master of the Laramah, one of the company's steamers on the Melbourne to Launceston service, carrying freight.
On one trip, carried on deck, was a DH83 Fox Moth and after being offloaded was flown to Western Junction by Victor Holyman.
The aircraft had one motor, carried 3 passengers with their luggage, some freight and mail if required. The pilot operated from an open cockpit. The aircraft was named "Miss Currie" and carried the registration VH-UQM.
The service from Launceston to Flinders Island was commenced and 109 miles being covered in 1 hour 15 minutes. The operators were Holyman Bros. Pty Ltd. and were in competition with Captain L. Mc. K. Johnston who had already set up a service with his De Soutter monoplane, VH-UEE named "Miss Flinders" (now on display at Western Junction Airport). This aircraft carried 4 passengers with pilot comforts inside the cabin. Within a short time both operators joined forces and operated as Tasmanian Aerial Services and with the company's Chief Engineer, Jack Stubbs and Keith Maynard, to name but a few of the personnel, the foundations were laid.
The company in its pioneering days were looking to its future and added planes and staff in quick steps, D.H.84s, D.H.89, D.H.86, and D.H.86B etc. All increased the carrying capacity and services were spreading out.
In 1936 the Douglas aircraft was introduced to the service, DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-6 etc.
In the early operations losses took their toll on aircraft but above all the company lost its founder Victor Holyman and, of course, Gil Jenkins his Co-Pilot. This to be followed by other losses later, but these did not deter Sir Ivan Holyman in his determination to continue.
In the 1939-1945 war period, many of the company's aircraft and their pilots and engineers were pressed into service and participated in the activities in war zones.
In 1939 I was appointed Manager for King Island and covered the company's operations there. During this period, one incident, which can now be told, may prove of interest to you today. Because of the location of the island in Bass Strait it was considered to be a possible potential landing ground for enemy forces. So, the decision was made to place the area under heavy security. Obstruction posts were erected on the grassed areas between the three landing strips. A system of mobile barriers was placed at regular intervals across the strips. These were removed prior to our aircraft arrivals and replaced after take-offs.
Demolition charges were sunk across each runway at regular intervals and wired to a control point in an underground pit, closely guarded by members of the Civil Army, stationed on King Island at that time.
Our Douglas passenger service had just landed and parked on the runway, adjacent to the airport building, or waiting room.
It was obvious that a storm was pending so Captain Jack Bennett, Keith Maynard and one of our staff proceeded to place ballast against the wheels of the aircraft. The storm broke soon afterwards and we three took shelter in the aircraft with the hostess who was doing some duties within the cabin.
Hearing a loud report I saw flashes appearing along the runways and alerted all 4 in the aircraft that we would be in danger if we did not make a quick exit.
It was over in minutes and we saw an impressive sight of earth piled up 10 feet high and from a total of approximately 150 demo charges laid 5 had remained intact – and 4 of these were under the Douglas aircraft from which we had made our exit.
As you can imagine a lot of work was done to clear a path, enabling the Douglas to take off at 1500 that day to ferry back to Melbourne.
Some of the craters were 15 feet across and 10 feet deep and in rows of 4 across the runway one could well imagine the mass of soil shifted. Some clods were located about half mile from the airport. Secrecy on this prevailed.
On a subsequent trip Jack Bennett enquired of me "How the heck did you beat me to that waiting room?" We sure had some Stawell Gift contenders.
In 1945 however I returned to the Launceston office and in 1953 was appointed Devonport Manager and continued there until 1962 after 30 years association with the airline industry. During that time many lasting friends both within and outside of the industry were made.
Thank you for the kind invitation to myself and wife to attend this memorable gathering, and I hope this will be the forerunner of many more. I also hope that Ansett Airlines will have prosperous years ahead.