Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Our times are fading.

In the past twenty-four hours we have lost two personalities who gave me so much enjoyment and entertainment in my younger years, and it makes me sad at the same time that it makes me appreciate my mortality more than ever.

Firstly it was hearing the news that the girl next door, one of many targets of my adolescent affection, Doris Day, had died.

I cannot ever forget two wonderful movies in which Miss Day starred - "The Man Who Knew Too Much", directed by Alfred Hitchcock and which has become a classic. She shared the billing with another icon, James Stewart.

Of course, the featured song from "The Man Who Knew Too Much" became a hit, not only for Doris Day but also, many years later here in Australia, for Normie Rowe.
Interesting is the fact that neither Doris nor Normie wanted to do the song but were both convinced to do so.

The other movie to which I am referring is "Midnight Lace", which also starred Rex Harrison and John Gavin.
(You would be forgiven for thinking that it too was directed by Hitchcock but no, it wasn't. )


The other sad piece of news was to read only today that Tim Conway had died at the age of 85.
My first memories of seeing Tim go back to the very early 1960s and the TV show, "McHale's Navy".
Then Tim featured, for many years, on the Carol Burnett Show and that is where he arguably had his funniest years.
The chemistry between he and Harvey Korman was magical and Carol once said that Tim's aim in each sketch was to get Harvey to break into laughter. He succeeded on every occasion.

Here are three clips from the Carol Burnett Show which have become You Tube classics.
In all cases Harvey just cannot keep a straight face!
(Note that if you click on the You Tube info in the right corner you can view the clips in a larger format).

The first is The Dentist.
(This is the full sketch and the crack-ups start about five minutes in.)

It was rumoured that Harvey actually had a slight case of supressed-laughter-induced incontinence because he was trying so hard to not break up!
Tim ad-libbed parts of it, including using the chair as a crutch and the needle in the forehead.

This second is The Fireman.
Harvey just cannot hold the laughter.

And the third is The Airline Check-in.
Watch Harvey's face as Tim goes on a stamping frenzy!


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But the one sketch which sits apart from all the others didn't feature Harvey; it had Carol, Vicki Lawrence and Dick van Dyke.
Tim was telling a story about a Circus Elephant and kept adding to it, ad-libbing, as he went.
It was Vicki who brought the house down at the end.


God bless both Tim and Doris for providing so much enjoyment to all we oldies.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Lockheed's L-1011 "Tristar"

I was looking through some old slides yesterday and came across the set shown below.
Here is the story behind them:-

Many, many years ago - in May, 1974, to be exact - myself and a good friend of mine happened to be two of a group of aeronautical enthusiasts (he belonged to the Aviation Historical Society of Australia and I was an invitee) who were invited to enjoy a demonstration flight in the All Nippon Airways (ANA) Lockheed L-1011 "Tristar" which was on its delivery flight to Japan.
Lockheed, with the co-operation of ANA, had arranged for the aircraft to be demonstrated to airline representatives from Ansett, TAA and QANTAS....and also the RAAF, as I learned many years later.

We boarded at Sydney's Kingsford Smith airport - adjacent the QANTAS 747 hangar, if memory serves -  on a beautiful morning.
After takeoff (to the south), the flight turned northwards over Wollongong  and then headed north along the coast and turned south somewhere near Gosford.

One of the shots below was taken within the cockpit; I was looking at the throttles and trying to get the pilot's hands into the frame.
The reason for that was that the aircraft was landing itself.
The L-1011 was coming down the approach path, the pilot's hand off the controls (throttles and yokes) and the pilot did not place his hands back on the controls until the aircraft was running along the tarmac.

Amazing technology back then.
This feature was one of the standouts used by Lockheed to promote the aircraft.

No Australian airline bought the Tristar.
It is said that QANTAS held an option but it died when Lockheed cancelled production.
Airlines by that time were being lured by the twin fan-jets being promoted by Airbus and Boeing and the tri-jets - Lockheed's L-1011 and McDonnell Douglas's MD-11 (nee DC-10) - were too expensive to buy and operate.

The following photos were taken with my Praktica 35mm camera and are digitised from the slides.
They will enlarge a bit more when clicked.
 
 
 
 
 


When we left the aircraft on returning to Kingsford Smith, each passenger was handed a memento of the flight, a polyester-resin dome with a Tristar flying over Australia.
I still have mine (slightly chipped on the edge).............
 


Whatever happened to the ANA demo aircraft (Registration JA-8506), I hear you you ask?

Well, it served with ANA until February 1985, when it went to Boeing, of all places!
There it stayed until March 1985....so I would think it was undergoing a "between operators" service.
That month, as N762BE, it commenced operations with Hawaiian Airlines, where it stayed until February 1995, when it came under the ownership of someone or something called "Rich AW Ltd.".
In February 1999 it went to Orient Thai Airlines and in 2002 was in storage at Roswell, New Mexico.

Incidentally, anecdotal evidence shows that pilots who flew the L-1011 during its life with major carriers just loved it....so it must have had a lot going for it.
I think it would have looked great in QANTAS, TAA or Ansett livery.

UPDATE: 1/10/2018
Here are some links to Ron Cuskelly's excellent "The Lockheed File" website.

The site contains an enormous amount of reference material relating to Lockheed aircraft registered in Australia and, in addition, to aircraft with an Australian connection, under the heading "Oddities".

Scroll down to Tristar Australian Demonstration Tour on that page for the start of the L-1011 section, with photos.....including "what ifs" for QANTAS, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett Airlines.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A week on the Gold Coast

(All photos enlarge to full size when clicked)

This past week has been one of those not quite ordinary run-of-the-mill weeks that we have experienced during our life here in Yamba.
It was certainly as traumatic as the fire (November 2017) and, for my wife, definitely a life-changing experience because she was admitted to hospital for open-heart surgery for the replacement of the aortic valve.


The hospital at which the surgeon operates is the John Flynn private hospital at Tugun, on the Gold Coast and literally a stone's-throw on the Queensland side of the QLD-NSW border.


I stayed in an apartment in the Royal Palm resort tower at Palm Beach, less than 10 minute's drive away along the Gold Coast Highway.
This was a very convenient location due to its proximity to (a) the hospital and (b) a Coles supermarket less than 500 metres away. As you can see in the photo below, this location has plenty of construction underway as older buildings are demolished and new, taller, buildings are constructed. And so the unattractive coastal sprawl continues along the Gold Coast.


The apartment I stayed in is very large (2 bedrooms) and most comfortable....and, when the sliding glass doors to the balconies are closed, also very quiet.
I tended to leave the bedroom door slightly open at night and the sound of the surf less than 50 metres away lulled me to sleep....particularly on the night after the operation was performed and I was able to relax more than I had over the previous few days.


When not visiting my wife in hospital I spent some time taking photos of the Jetstar, Virgin and Tiger Air aircraft on their final approach to runway 14 at the Gold Coast airport, less than 6 kms south of the apartment towers.

An RAAF item joined in the fun one morning.......

The aircraft landing pattern had them doing the crosswind leg off the coast and they would turn onto the final a kilometre or so north of my location and pass by and above the tower as they descended.
The photos above were all taken from the balcony beyond the TV set you can see in the second photo of the apartment itself.
All the above pix were taken in the morning or early afternoon.
Here's one of a Tiger Air unit taken as the sun was setting............



The view from the apartment is superb. I was on the 9th. floor so it would be even more so from, say, the 24th. floor.
Looking southward, towards the Currumbin Creek estuary
The rock formation at Currumbin Alley (popular surfing spot)
Surfer's Paradise 20+ kms north.

A few photos from the Currumbin Creek and Tarrabora Reserve area.........

A bush turkey. Quite used to humans and didn't move away.

This stuff is impenetrable!! A natural barrier to everything except a tank!

I'll close with this photo of the sun rising behind the clouds at about 7:30 AM on my fifth and final morning before coming home, with my wife out of ICU after a successful operation and on the road to recovery.

FOOTNOTE:
Here's a little video of a workman commuting to his job on a construction site........


Monday, September 17, 2018

An Appropriate Quote......


Recently, when reading a novel by John Connolly, I was struck by how a particular sentence perfectly stated how I feel about my lifestyle since moving from Canberra to Yamba four-and-a-quarter years ago.

The words are reproduced below:-

"I knew that to live a life like his - a life almost mundane in the pleasure it derived from small happinesses and the beauty of the familiar, but uncommon in the value it attached to them - was something to be envied."

That is me in a nutshell.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Another great musical evening


In late July we held another enjoyable musical night, this time the theme was "The Beatles", so some classic 60s & 70s hits were trotted out and performed by Margaret (organ), Michele (keyboard) and myself (keyboard). That's us above, from left to right.

Many thanks go to Margaret's helpers on the night, Venette, Graham and Ben, and to all 20+ guests who sang and laughed, and to the wonderful Gina, whose sponge-cake disappeared within a few seconds of it appearing on the table!!

We are now looking forward to the ABBA night next year but before that we will have another Christmas repertoire to practise.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Bridge - The river is almost spanned.

The following photos were taken two days ago and, unlike the previous sets, were shot in the late afternoon as opposed to early morning.
This was deliberate and was done so that the structure, now with the majority of its girders in place, would be lit by the sun rather than be in shadow.

All photos enlarge to full-size when clicked.

We start with two taken from the southern end of the existing bridge, where the pedestrian steps from the roadway below join the footpath on the bridge itself. The first photo looks south and the second looks north.
Note that the footpath sections are being installed.
 


The next two are looking north and show that the spanning of the Clarence River is nearly complete.
Only a few girders remain to be fitted and, once done, it would be possible to cross the river by walking the full length on the girders, even without the road-base sections in place.



I walked along the highway to a point on the northern side where I could get a decent shot of the arch in order to give an idea of its length and height when compared to the existing crossing.
It really is an enormous structure.


Two shots, below, showing the 'U'-shaped pre-stressed girders.
These are manufactured on-site, in a rather large shed on the northern side of the river, and are installed by a crane using a massive sling.
Note that each girder weighs 161.5 tonnes.
At each span, therefore, there are 646 tonnes in girders alone which those massive columns have to support.
The girders crossing the river can only be lifted into place when the wind-strength is below 6 knots; those on the land approaches could be placed in winds up to 12 knots.


Below, a view of the "Pi" structure which I took back in January.
It looks a bit different now that it is doing its job!


Finally, a view of most of the bridge.
Not long now before the Clarence has a new span across it.



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

That first day at school....

It is February 1986 and my daughter, five years and two months of age, is in her brand-new uniform and ready to walk across the adjacent school oval and spend her first full day at Monash Primary school.


And at the end of that first school year, there she was (far right, front row), an experienced schoolie, ready for the annual summer holidays before starting her second year in the ACT's education system.


Just looking at those photos makes me feel very creaky, indeed!!


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Bridge update; girders across Yamba Road.

I had to drive across to Maclean this morning and whilst the traffic was stopped at the junction of Yamba Road and the Pacific Highway I managed to grab these quick shots. (Click on image for full-size).
I keep a small camera (Panasonic Lumix) in my car for just such occasions.


The enormous size of this structure can be appreciated by looking at the vehicles on the existing bridge in the background (second photo).
In another year or so they will many times higher....up there on top of the new concrete girders.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Bridge progress update.

As mentioned back in my January post, here is the most recent series of photos on the construction of the new highway bridge over the Clarence River at Harwood.
These were taken last Saturday morning, under a grey and threatening sky.
All photos enlarge to full-size when clicked.
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This is a huge structure. It's only as we see the girders being placed that the enormity of it becomes clear.
The size of the columns and cross-beams can be gauged by the men working on top doing the form-work for where the girders will be keyed to the beams.

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Starting from the south side of the bridge - and looking southwards - the following sequence moves towards the centre of the existing bridge.
Columns are now starting to rise from the piers sunk in the river.

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The cylindrical steel form-work for the construction of the concrete columns.

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On the northern side of the river the girders are being positioned and are getting closer to the northern bank of the Clarence.

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Finally, a few shots of the panorama from a vantage-point along the riverbank towards the sugar factory.



Soon the girders will be marching across the river, so my next update will most likely be later this month.