Dept of Civil Aviation Regional Training School.
Story by Robert Brand.
It has been 45 years since I stepped in the doors of the DCA training School at Waverton. All that is left these days is the land it sat on and that is a car park for sailors at HMAS Waterhen that sits below the old site.
I started on Jan 8th 1968 and I was the grand age of 15 years old. It was a nervous time, not knowing what was in-store for us, but I was pretty happy about getting paid to learn.
The picture of me shows what kids with an interest in technology did before home computers were invented. That is a number 19 tank radio transceiver and I was wiring a small home made intercom with a very loud speaker. OTC was perfect for me. That was one corner of my bedroom and the light above was for developing prints when I turned it into a dark room.
George Nettle was the Head of the school and we had three classes, although that dropped to 2 classes after the first year. The main instructors were Frank Mann, Bob Williams, John Dryden and Reg Breen. The classes were made up of a few Navy trainees that washed out after the first year and it left 50% OTC and 50% DCA trainees in our year.
These three photos below were taken on the last day of school 4 years later – 1971
I showed these photos to a friend that worked for DCA and attended the school after me.
Mick Gawlas ex DCA trainee 1974-1977 wrote back and said:
My God, Bob Williams without a huge black beard!!!, I remember he had a little yellow Honda S600 coupe with a Cortina motor in it. It had a great big fibreglass bubble on the bonnet to protect the carbies!!; and John Dryden looks like a 15 yo schoolboy!! Perhaps he was younger than I thought! Bit of an eccentric, he had a penchant for socks and sandles with shorts, even in Winter!! He came from Thornleigh somewhere as I used to see him on the train. Jack Rutherford (Electrical) also came from up that way. I last saw Jack teaching at Hornsby TAFE in 2001. With regard to pictures on the overhead, there was a guy at Dept of Communications in the 1980’s who used a “nude” transparency to “focus” the projector AND the audience!! Back in the good old days before political correctness!
The antics we got up to were amazing. We stuffed as many trainees as possible into Greg Waller’s car and drove around Balls Head Reserve and back. There were complaints from HMAS Waterhen about flaming paper planes launched from the school above, dart fights between the two buildings with thorn tipped paper darts blown through PVC conduit, radio jammers getting built and the annual instructors vs trainee rugby league game. There was so much more and I wish I had photos of it all..