Woods Airways

 (Courtesy State Library of Western Australia, The Battye Library 217239PD)


Woods Airways resulted from the efforts of Jimmy Woods, who shared the background of W.A.'s commercial aviation pioneers, having flown with the Royal Flying Corps / Royal Air Force in World War I, and brought an aircraft back after the war. He did not at that stage start his own airline, however, moving first to New Zealand.

Woods joined Norman Brearley's W.A. Airways in 1924, where he appears to have helped with pilot training as well as the airline's passenger and mail services. He remained with them until 1933, when he attempted to break the Australia - England flight time record, then just under 9 days. 1934 saw him flying a Lockheed Vega on behalf of Horrie Miller (of MMA) in the Melbourne Centenary Air Race, after which he flew with MMA until 1947.

 

(Courtesy State Library of Western Australia, The Battye Library 218009PD)

His time with MMA came to an end after a disagreement over an accident at Broome, involving himself and another MMA pilot. He then obtained state government approval to operate a service to Rottnest, in competition with Airlines (WA), for which he obtained to Avro Ansons. Twice-weekly flights commenced in April 1948, with more added later. Woods kept costs to a minimum by performing almost all the work himself - from transporting customers from Perth to the airport, to unloading their baggage at Rottnest.

The route flown was believed to be the shortest in the world, and Woods Airways became something of a local icon, partly due to Woods' personal efforts, and partly due to the special place that Rottnest held in the eyes of locals. The airline prospered until 1961, when the Department of Civil Aviation ruled that wooden aircraft such as the Anson no longer met the required safety standards. The final flight (on the very last day of approved use, December 31st, 1961) was a major event, including a speech by the state's Premier, David Brand.

Woods Airways included four aircraft, three being Ansons (VH-WAA, WAB and WAC). The fourth was a de Havilland Mosquito, VH-WAD, purchased with an intent of use in the 1953 London - Christchurch air race. This plan never came to fruition, but the aircraft was displayed at Perth Airport next to the RAAFAWA's Lancaster for some years, before it was sold.

References


A fuller account of Jimmy Woods' life, at www.airwaysmuseum.com