Jock Maxwell Head (1946-2018)


National Mapping Staff Pilot 1980-1992


Prepared by Laurie McLean

September 2019


Jock Head 24 December 1982.

XNatmap image by Alan Scott.


Jock Head was born on 14 August 1946.  He had worked as a commercial pilot for Adastra Aerial Surveys in the early part of the 1970s prior to coming to National Mapping in 1980.


Adastra Aerial Surveys had its beginning in 1930 when former World War I Australian Flying Corps pilots Frank William Follett (1892‑1950) and Henry Talbot (Bunny) Hammond (1895-1982) formed the Adastra Flying School in Sydney.  On 18 August 1930 the family company Adastra Airways Ltd was registered.  There were 7 subscribers to the company’s initial £3 000 capital that was raised through the issue of £1 shares.  These subscribers were Frank Follett, his wife Helen Gertrude Follett (née Molloy) and two of Frank’s sisters: Evelyn Mary (Pinkie) Follett (1902-1977) and Beatrice Hilda (Bee) Follett (1897-1978).  Bunny Hammond and his wife Madge were also subsribers as was a Mrs Sadie Ann Youngson (née Mackieson).


Some time later Bunny Hammond moved on to other pursuits and later joined the Royal Australia Air Force until discharged in 1945 with the rank of Group Captain and the award of Officer of the Order of the British Empire.  Hammond returned to Adastra as General Manager after Follett’s death in 1950.


In 1935 Adastra acquired a Williamson Eagle IV aerial survey camera and commenced undertaking aerial photography acquisition contracts.  Over the next 4 decades it became a multi-faceted aerial survey company involved in aircraft operation, geophysical surveys, airborne terrain profiling, aerial photography, photogrammetry, aerial photography mosaics, reprographics, photo laboratory, and ground control surveys.  The company began to decline in the early 1970s and ceased operating in 1976.


From his mid-20s to his early 30s Jock Head flew various aircraft for Adastra between 1970 and 1976 when the company ceased to operate.  At Adastra Jock flew Cessna 185, Cessna 206, Cessna 320, and Aero Commander 500 (Shrike) aircraft.


At age 34 years, Jock joined the National Mapping Aviation Section as a staff pilot on 7 August 1980.  His appointment to the nominal position of Technical Assistant Grade 1 was promulgated on page 50 of the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette , Issue P 10, on 30 September 1981.  The Aviation Section was based at Nat Map’s Ellery House office at 280 Thomas Street Dandenong.  Initially Jock worked under the direction of Terrence Gerald (Terry) Mulholland (1935-2013) who was Nat Map’s Chief Pilot between early 1978 and October 1988.  Other pilots in the Section when Jock joined were Harry William (Harry) Baker (who joined on 28 March 1978) and Peter Prior (who joined in May 1978).


During his 12 years as a staff pilot with Nat Map, Jock flew the following Nat Map aircraft:

·       Nomad N22B-25 (VH-DNM) that was used between July 1976 and September 1982 for aerial photography (with a Wild RC9 aerial survey camera) and for laser terrain profiling operations.

·       Cessna 170A (VH-CAS) that was used between February 1978 and December 1982 for map inspection and spot photography operations.

·       Cessna 421C Golden Eagle (VH-DRB) that was used between August 1982 and July 1995.  This aircraft replaced the Nomad as it was capable of flying photography work at 25 000 feet.  It was used for high altitude mapping photography operations (with a Wild RC10 aerial survey camera).  Later it was modified to carry the Pram III system that was used for laser terrain profiling operations.

·       Cessna U206F Stationair (VH-ESU) that was used between October 1982 and May 1987 for map inspection and spot photography operations.

·       Cessna 337F Super Skymaster (VH-JQN) that was used between May 1987 and July 1995.  This aircraft replaced VH-ESU and was used for map inspection and spot photography operations.


From time to time Jock Head and the other National Mapping staff pilots flew other aircraft under short term dry charter arrangements to support the Division’s operations.


Jock Head flying chartered Cessna 402 VH-BPX on Nat Map operations in the early 1980s.  XNatmap image from Bill Stuchbery.


Following Terry Mulholland’s departure from Nat Map in October 1988, Jock acted as AUSLIG’s Chief Pilot until mid-1991.


With Nat Map Jock flew over many areas of Australia; particularly in outback areas.  Later with the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group, he also flew aerial photography operations over the Pacific Island nations.  Initially Jock flew over Vanuatu in mid-1990 and he flew over the Kingdom of Tonga in June 1991.


Jock formally left AUSLIG on 11 March 1992 at age 45 years.  At the time his nominal position was Technical Officer, Level 1.  Jock’s early retirement was made under redundancy provisions in the Public Service Act.  His retirement was promulgated on page 1340 of the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, Issue PS 13, of 2 April 1992.


However, a farewell send-off function for Jock and fellow departing Senior Technical Officer (Technical Officer, Level 4) John Ely was held at the Ellery House office on Wednesday 19 February 1992.


Jock Head at Nat Map’s Dandenong Office circa 1990.

XNatmap image by Alan Scott.


After leaving Nat Map Jock moved to Broken Hill with his wife and children.  Sadly while at Broken Hill Jock and his wife Betty went their separate ways and he moved to Port Macquarie.  Here Jock gave up flying and undertook a course that qualified him to provide support for people with disabilities.  Jock found this field of work to be very rewarding and made it his later-in-life vocation.


Unfortunately in September 2016, Jock was diagnosed with cancer.  Despite treatment, Jock succumbed to the disease on 14 August 2018.  Jock was 71 years of age when he died.  He was survived by his former wife Betty and by their two children; son Dallas and daughter Peita.  Jock had requested there be no funeral service, instead a private cremation of Jock’s remains occurred on 21 August 2018.


On 25 November 2018 some 50 people attended a memorial service for Jock at Port Macquarie’s Shelly Beach.  Nat Map pilot Harry Baker was one of the attendees.  Jock’s memorial service took place at Harry’s Lookout* where the Port Macquarie‑Hastings Council had installed a memorial seat with a plaque for Jock.  The next day, Jock’s ashes were scattered nearby.  The location of Harry’s Lookout is depicted in the satellite image below.

Location of Harry’s Lookout at Port Macquarie’s Shelly Beach.

Google Earth image.


*Harry’s Lookout is named for Harry Thompson who in 1961 with Jean (his wife) apparently drove from Warren in their Vanguard and caravan.  At this spot overlooking Shelly Beach where they both saw the sea for the first time, their vehicle became bogged and so they stopped there…for the rest of their lives.  During that time they raised their two children Neville and Robyn.  The Thompsons became local identities with Harry known as the mayor of Shelly Beach and being named as one of Port Macquarie’s citizens of the year in 1983.


An attempt by the Council to have them evicted as squatters had to be abandoned because of community support for the Thompsons and their voluntary role as caretakers of the beach over the years.  Jean died in 1985 and Harry died in 2000.