Frank Colquhoun’s involvement with aviation was deep and extensive. He began work as a junior mechanic in training with West Australian Airlines (WAA) in the 1920s. By 1924, he and the WAA hangar had relocated from Hill Street to the new Aerodrome at Maylands. By 1934, Frank was Chief Engineer at McRobertson Miller Aviation (MMA). He worked with Ansett Transport Industries after their takeover of MMA and in 1968 was seconded to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs to advise overseas airlines on engineering matters relating to Australian aid.
Our MHPA library holds multiple copies of Frank Colquhoun’s book Cockpit and Spanner: My recollections of early aviation in W.A. With funding from the State Committee of Western Australia for the Centenary of Federation, it was published by the Maylands Historical Society in 2001. Colquhoun acknowledges the work Ted Fletcher and Frank Greenslade did to help him convert a mess of writing into a published book. The excitement of the pioneering era of aviation is evident in his book especially in its photographs.
Our Frank Colquhoun collection includes images used in his book and hundreds of other aviation-related images. Young Frank had a camera handy to record encounters with celebrated aviators including Norman Brearley, Charles Kingsford Smith and James Mollison and Bert Hinkler. Also evident is Colquhoun’s delight in aircraft ranging from Bristol Tourers, DH50As, the Avro 504J, the DH60 Cirrus Moth, DH61s known as Giant Moths, the DH66 Hercules (able to carry 14 passengers), Vickers Viastra II, DH84 Dragons, Lockheed 10A Electras, DC3s and Fokker F27s. He also captured sad images of crashed and damaged aircraft, the flooding of the Maylands Aerodrome in 1926 and a coffin slung under a Bristol Tourer for transport from a northern town to Perth.
For more information
- Frank Colquhoun collection
- Frank Colquhoun. (2001) Cockpit and Spanner: My recollections of early aviation in W.A. Copies available in our library for reference by non-members and borrowing by MHPA members.