100. GEMS from COOTE.       

"As far as I know he is not qualified to make a satisfactory job of it".

Colonel Brinsmead, Director of Civil Aviation to Texas Green, Minister of Defence. 23/06/30.


I find no great motivation to write Coote's biography, for the moment let his correspondence speak for him. The original of the following letter from Coote to Colonel Brinsmead can be viewed at National Archives Australia as a digital file, see reference below. The letter has paragraph breaks added for ease of comprehension and readability, Coote can fit a lot of verbiage on a page and very likely the Colonel read the letter more than once. He reacted immediately, but with nice discretion, and pointed out to his boss, Texas Green, that Coote had been an unlicensed pilot for the past year and it would be a very good idea to get in touch with his mate Arthur Blakeley soonest, regarding Coote's lack of experience in cross country aviation and the dangers of flying in Central Australia.

As other 'Gems from Coote' surface they will be posted here. The pilot's excuses for the debacle at Ayers Rock and the crash at Ai Ai Creek should make interesting reading.



21st June 1930.------------------------

Dear Colonel Brinsmead-----------------------------------------------Director of Civil Aviation----------------------------------------------Air Board, MELBOURNE.----------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Colonel,--------------------

In writing this letter to you I am asking for your blessing-in connection with an enterprise I am about to embark upon.

I admit I have sadly neglected the regulations governing--flying inasmuch as I have not applied for a renewal of my flying-license, at the proper time, but I have always kept up my flying-nevertheless, when my newspaper duties would permit, with the result that I have now nearly 80 hours solo to my credit.

I am heavily financially interested in the above syndicate which-is forming an expedition to go to Central Australia to relocate-a 10 mile reef of gold west of Alice Springs.

I will be a member of this expedition and in addition to a-Thornycroft six-wheeler truck, (sister to the one that went out to-bring in the late Lieut. Anderson's body) we have purchased a-Gypsy Moth plane, of which delivery will be taken next week.

It was on my suggestion that the plane be taken, as then we will-not be stumped for water, the Moth making short scouting flights-ahead of the truck, which it will use as it's base.                                           

The plane will not be used for the carrying of goods or passengers-for hire or reward, and will not engage in any commercial undertaking.-For this reason it is not necessary to have a "B" ticket, as I am a-part owner of the machine.

Further I am not drawing any salary from the syndicate, having-entered the thing purely from the spirit of adventure, and placing no-reliance on the hope of ever finding the reef.

I will be carrying as a passenger from Sydney to Alice Springs,-Captain Blakiston Houston, A.D.C. to His Excellency Lord Stonehaven.-Captain Houston is accompanying the expedition for the period of his furlough and will return to Brisbane to join His Excellency there-towards the end of August. He also, is only going on the expedition-for experience and adventure.

The truck will be equipped with wireless, and as further precautionary-measure we are taking a fully licensed ground engineer and motor mechanic probably Sergeant Becker, if Major De Havilland will lend him to us.-Major De Havilland has prepared a list of spares for the plane which-will also be taken.-----------

It will be seen therefore, that this trip which will last about 15-weeks, will be of invaluable experience to me, and knowing that you-are desirous of giving every new pilot his chance to put up a good-show, I am asking for your blessing, and any assistance you would-be prepared to give, such as information regarding the country etc.-Maps of the route from Sydney to Alice Springs, via Broken Hill would---- -      be appreciated together with information regarding landing grounds etc.

A member of the expedition will be Mr. F. Blakeley, brother to the-Minister of Home Affairs, and several Federal Members are-members of the syndicate.

From Alice Springs onward, the truck will be used as the base for the 'plane, and in good country will be towed behind-when not in use.

If the country is too rough a nature to permit this I will-fly ahead to the next landing area which will be chosen as the camping-site, after informing the Expedition of it's location. Tomahawks, axes, medicine chests, spares of every description will be carried,-so that it will be seen that nothing is left to chance.-It is hoped to leave Mascot the first Saturday in July,  and-final arrangements are being made for departure next Thursday-evening.

I would esteem it a favor, therefore if you would remit your--reply to this letter, giving me a clearance from Mascot, in time-for this meeting.

My Log Book and license are being sent under separate cover, by-air mail.

Thanking you in anticipation of your favorable reply,----------------------------------

Yours, Faithfully

Errol. H. Coote.------------------------------------

P.S. A fellow named Burlington is trying to butt in on this-expedition, but several Federal Members have warned us that-his presence will not only be a handicap, but will be resented.-He says he is a competent aircraftsman, mechanic, and flying man.-Could you let us know if this is so?. Anyhow he is NOT going with-us.

P.P.S. You will remember me as a member of the "Pictorial"-staff, and my work for aviation there, especially in=regard to the "Southern Cross".---------------------------------------------------------Coote.



R.Ross. 1999-2006

National Archives Australia. Title, Use of Aircraft During Expedition by Central Australian Gold Exploration Company. Series number, A705. Control symbol, 153/1/637. Contents date range, 1930-1931.