Auckland Radio 1950-1959

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

Radio operator Andy Bennie at work in the Air/Ground communications room at Musick Memorial Radio Station, circa 1959

Radio operator Andy Bennie at work in the Air/Ground communications room at Musick Memorial Radio Station, circa 1959

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.

Radio operator Andy Bennie at work in the Air/Ground communications room at Musick Memorial Radio Station, circa 1959

Radio operator Andy Bennie at work in the Air/Ground communications room at Musick Memorial Radio Station, circa 1959

Main Communications Room

Bill Jones, Senior Communication Officer in the main CAA Communications room at ZKLF.

Bill Jones, Senior Communication Officer in the main CAA Communications room at ZKLF. The teletypes on the left are on the receiving side of a link with page printers on the top shelf and typing reperforators underneath. These reperfs cut a new tape and typed the message onto that tape too, making for quick tape reading. On the bottom shelf at right is a bank of tape transmitters; the nearest one has a loop running, possibly a callsign followed by the usual YRYRYR test signal used for tuning at the receive end.

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.

Bill Jones, Senior Communication Officer in the main CAA Communications room at ZKLF.

Bill Jones, Senior Communication Officer in the main CAA Communications room at ZKLF. The view is to the north, with a view of Rangitoto Island. This shows two banks of teletypes similar to those in the photo above, for receiving on the right and transmitting on the left. In the racks beyond the right hand teletypes are two AWA dual-diversity receivers for the teletype links.

This is a close-up of the right hand racks seen in the photo above. The receivers were used for the NZ local communications network to regional airfields. At the left are two Eddystone S680X receivers, which replaced Collier & Beale versions of National HRO receivers. The middle and right hand racks each have a pair of Australian-built Thom & Smith fixed frequency receivers at the top, then remote controls for Collins auto-tune transmitters, another Eddystone, and switching panels at desk level. All operations were CW (Morse Code).

This is a close-up of the right hand racks seen in the photo above. The receivers were used for the NZ local communications network to regional airfields. At the left are two Eddystone S680X receivers, which replaced Collier & Beale versions of National HRO receivers. The middle and right hand racks each have a pair of Australian-built Thom & Smith fixed frequency receivers at the top, then remote controls for Collins auto-tune transmitters, another Eddystone, and switching panels at desk level. All operations were CW (Morse Code).

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

Mac MaClaren using a 'bug' key in the main CAA comms room. I cannot date this photo but it predates the one above. The Eddystone receivers are very new, being still in cabinets. There's a remote control (with telephone dial) for one of the Collins auto-tune transmitters and a couple of HRO-copy receivers, type 941 I think.

Mac MaClaren using a ‘bug’ key in the main CAA comms room. I cannot date this photo but it predates the one above. The Eddystone receivers are very new, being still in cabinets. There’s a remote control (with telephone dial) for one of the Collins auto-tune transmitters and a couple of HRO-copy receivers, type 941 I think.

AWA diversity receivers which were part of the radio teletype system, in the CAA Communications Room. The system used both frequency and antenna diversity with multiple aerials.

AWA diversity receivers which were part of the radio teletype system, in the CAA Communications Room. The system used both frequency and antenna diversity with multiple aerials.

Part 2: Marine Radio (ground floor)


In this 1956 video produced for the New Zealand Post Office, Auckland Radio ZLD is seen briefly, beginning at 7:25.

Auckland Radio ZLD operator Frank Henry Bissmire

Auckland Radio ZLD operator Frank Henry Bissmire, pictured in 1959. Frank was Superintendent of ZLD from March 1974 until his retirement on Christmas Eve of the same year. He died at Tauranga in 2011, aged 95.

Auckland Radio ZLD operators Ray Chandler and Dave Currie

Auckland Radio ZLD operators Ramon Chandler and Dave Currie, pictured in 1959. Ramon remains a member of Musick Point Radio Group and Dave was the last manager of ZLD when it closed in 1993.

Auckland Radio ZLD staff Bernie McMahn and Norm Ashwell

Auckland Radio ZLD operator Bernie McMahn with Norm Ashwell in the background. Undated photo, believed to be around 1959.

1960 – 1979