Australia’s civil aviation in 1950


How’s this for flashback Friday?

As part of researching a story on the evolution of air traffic control featuring in the upcoming May/June edition of the Flight Safety Australia, we came across this historic video depicting what aviation was like in post-World War II Australia.

Produced by the Department of Information for the Department of Civil Aviation in 1950, the video shows how aviation helped Australians connect with the world, reducing a trip from Sydney to London to a meagre four days. This was a major improvement from the previously required six months when travelling by ship.

The video also depicts how the aeroplane helped connect the city with the bush—enabling those on the land more frequent access to health care, food supplies and communication.

But perhaps the most fascinating insight is just how far aviation—and aviation safety—has come in 65 years.

Starting at the 10-minute mark, the video examines how the Department of Civil Aviation built runways, produced weather reports and approved every flight before departure.

It also closely examines the role of air traffic controller and the processes involved in changing flight plans, even showing an emergency landing at Mascot airport. As the narrator says: ‘…strict control 24 hours a day over every stage of flight; supervision that means safety.’

But even after the aircraft landed and the passengers had disembarked, the job of the Civil Aviation Department was still not complete. ‘Safety control does not end with the act of flying’ says the narrator. ‘The silver machines are kept mechanically perfect as sure minds and clever hands can make them.’

Despite major changes to aviation, some things remain constant. As the narrator says: ‘A pilot never finishes his training, for the development of new instruments and flying techniques changes his job from day to day.’

The video concludes, ‘Aviation and modern Australia have grown up together and they are going forward together. The aircraft has become the servant of the people, uniting the citizens of this country, uniting the countries of the world.’

What was your favourite part of the video? Comment below and stay tuned for ‘HMI + ATC: a grounded understanding’ to be published on 4 May in Flight Safety Australia digital magazine and soon after on


  1. Tried to on forward by email to a friend and it just doesn’t get sent. The working symbol comes up but I think you could wait fir ever

  2. Hi Dennis

    Thanks for the feedback. You were right, the email button wasn’t working.

    We’ve fixed the problem (we hope) with a new set of share icons.

    Hope this helps you email the article on. Let us know if you still have problems.

    FSA Team

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