Part 1: Aviation Radio (first floor)
These photos are from the collection of Jack Paton, who was Regional Technician for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Notes have been provided by Gordon Cooper ZL1KL who started work at Musick Point in 1961. The photos are believed to date from 1959. If you are able to provide any additional information, please contact us.
Air/Ground Communications Room
The two photos above and below show the air-ground communications room, which was located on the first floor, above the main door. Two teletypes gave hard copy of all traffic. The left hand printer was for incoming messages from Air Traffic, Met and the airlines. The right hand printer was send-only, and the radio operator would record everything he heard from and sent to aircraft. This printer sent to Air Traffic, Met, airlines, etc. It was up to them to keep an eye on all incoming traffic and generate replies and original messages as required.
Five frequencies were available from about 3 MHz to 18 MHz with any two selected as primary and secondary channels to cope with propagation changes and distance to the aircraft. In the left hand rack were five Collins fixed frequency receivers with switching in the middle rack to select channels in use. Also in the middle rack were the Selcal tone generators and switching for selective calling aircraft. At desk level in the middle and right hand racks were the remote controls for two Collins 10 channel auto-tune transmitters which were a few miles down the road in the transmitting hall. Two Hammarlund Super Pro receivers in the right hand rack provided general coverage back-up. The elderly stand type telephone at right was part of the intercom to the adjacent main comms room and the transmitters.
Main Communications Room
The two photos above and below show Bill Jones, Senior Communication Officer in the main CAA Communications room of ZKLF at Musick Memorial Radio Station. The two photos show opposite ends of the room.
At this time, circa 1959, CAA at Musick Point was providing radioteletype links to Sydney and Nadi, with ongoing links to Honolulu and the USA, as well as radioteletype to the US base in Antarctica. Sometimes during solar storms, the Antarctic radio link would be out for days, with piles of taped messages form the USA stacked all around, waiting to be sent.
The Antarctic link was transferred to Weedons once the US Deep Freeze base was properly established at Christchurch (date unknown), while the Sydney and Nadi radio links were transferred to the Compac Cable when it opened in the early 1960s. This meant a considerable reduction in traffic and, apart from air/ground, CAA’s workload at Musick Point was very light. It was all transferred to the new airport at Mangere in 1972.
I might comment that the Thom & Smith receivers were over-engineered, needed a lot of maintenance, and were not at all popular with the staff.
– Gordon Cooper
Part 2: Marine Radio (ground floor)
Maurie Challinor joined Auckland Radio as an operator:
After training as a Post Office telegrapher, around 1950/51 I was stationed at ZLD Musick Radio, arguably the most enjoyable regular job I have had. Unfortunately, due to staff reduction, I was transferred to the Auckland Chief Post Office telegraph branch, where I spent 11 years.
My final Morse training was done at the Post Office telegraph training school at Trentham Camp. Back in the days it was known as “the Gallery”. We had to pass a test at 22 wpm each way for ten minutes, with only one uncorrected error (spelling mistake) and two corrections which had to be done while receiving.
For qualifying as a radiotelegraph operator, the speed was 25 wpm, same conditions.
During my 11 years at the Auckland telegraph branch I had a couple of six-month spells at the International Telegraph Office (formerly known as “the Cable Station”) on the top floor of the Chief Post Office in Auckland. That was interesting, as they operated 24 hours a day. Night shift was 11pm to 7am, from memory. This was in the time before the Compac cable opened. The signal from overseas was recorded on a siphon recorder as it arrived as a wiggly line on the tape. It also operated a printer (relatively slowly by todays standards).1
In this 1956 video produced for the New Zealand Post Office, Cuvier Island Lighthouse is seen in contact with Auckland Radio ZLD.
1. Email from Maurie Challinor to maritimeradio.org, January 2021