Edgar Johnston & Ron Adair - c.1926

This photo shows CAB Superintendent of Aerodromes Edgar Johnston and airline pioneer Ron Adair in front of Brisbane Aircraft Co. Airco DH.9 G-AUFB City of Brisbane in about 1926. Both men were to go on to long and distinguished careers in Australian aviation.

Edgar Johnston's biography can be read here.

John Ronald Shafto 'Ron' Adair was born in Maryborough, Qld., in June 1894. After training as an Engineer, Ron Adair volunteered for the Great War and became initially a mechanic and later a pilot with 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, seeing action in the Middle East. After the war Adair, like many contemporaries, took to barnstorming before helping to establish a Brisbane-Lismore-Sydney service for D.G Brims & Sons, operating as Brisbane Aircraft Co. and using the DH9 City of Brisbane. In October 1926, Ron Adair flew the DH9 on a charter from Brisbane to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup horse race and it may have been at that time that the photo above was taken.

In December 1926 Ron Adair and George Boehm formed Courier Aircrafts Pty. Ltd. to distribute the Brisbane Courier newspaper by air. Courier Aircrafts lasted only about six months, but was succeeded by Aircrafts Pty. Ltd. which obtained the Avro agency for Queensland and, in 1929, opened a scheduled Brisbane-Toowoomba service. Aircrafts later extended its reach to coastal and outback centres in Queensland.

In 1936 Ron Adair joined Qantas Empire Airways to operate their international service, initiallly on DH86s and later on the Empire flying boats. Ron Adair was also involved in ferrying Catalina flying boats from the USA to Australia in 1941.

After the Second World War Adair, who had remained a Director of Aircrafts Pty. Ltd. throughout, returned to the company as its Managing Director. Aircrafts Pty. Ltd. became Queensland Airlines in 1949, however by 1958 almost all its shares had been acquired by Butler Air Transport. Therefore when Reg Ansett took over Butler in that year, he also acquired Queensland Airlines. Ron Adair recieved shares in the new company and stayed on with Ansett Transport Industries.

Ron Adair had been awarded the OBE in 1955 for services to aviation. He died of a heart attack in 1960.

The DH.9 G-AUFB (cn 853) was built for the RAF during the Great War and given the serial H9337. It was civilanised as war surplus and given the UK registration G-EBKV. Imported to Australia for D.G. Brims & Sons of Milton, Qld., and named City of Brisbane, it was registered G-AUFB on 24 September 1926 with Certificate of Registration #143.

On 19 December 1926 the registration was transferred to Adair's Courier Aircrafts Ltd. On 20 September 1927 the aircraft was sold to Guinea Airways Ltd. and shipped to New Guinea to be based at Lae on the north coast. This rather unsuitable aircraft did not last long in the arduous environment of New Guinea, crashing in the Bulolo River some 8 miles north of Wau on 3 March 1928 and being written off.

(Photo: CAHS/Edgar Johnston collection)

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