A pictorial history of the first dedicated air charter operator in South Australia.
All photos by Geoff Goodall unless stated otherwise

SA Air Taxis Ltd was founded at Adelaide SA in 1958, renamed SA and Territory Air Services (SAATAS) in 1965 with additional bases at
Alice Springs and Darwin in the Northern Territory. An associate company SAATS (East Indonesia)
operated in Borneo and Indonesian New Guinea.
The SAATAS group ceased charter operations in 1978.

SA Air Taxis Ltd commenced in July 1958 with this Auster J.1N Alpha VH-BTK, owned by John Treloar of Umberatana Station
in outback SA.  The company was financed by members of the Treloar family, a pioneering pastoralist clan across South Australia,
whose aviation activities went back to the 1920s.  Note the fin emblem, used in various formats on the early SAAT aircraft.

Australian built DH.84 Dragon VH-BDS was purchased in March 1959, following the lease of another Dragon VH-PSZ the previous year. 
It was mainly used for freight charters to outback mining survey camps and nightly newspaper deliveries to SA country towns.
This late afternoon photo at Adelaide Airport in March 1962 shows the then undeveloped airport landscape behind.

Piper PA-24 Comanche 180 VH-TLW was the first of the modern metal, purchased new in March 1959. This aircraft was owned by
Mr. L.W. Treloar of Port Pirie SA and introduced the VH-TL registration series, adopted to recognise the backing of the Treloar family.

Cessna 175 VH-RFB was purchased in August 1959.  Seen at Parafield in September 1961 in this photo by Trevor Webb.

Piper PA-23 Apache 160 VH-TLU was a second-hand import from USA in September 1960. Seen here in its original blue paintwork with
SA Air Taxis Ltd titles on the fuselage sides and the previous US registration N1415P still on the rudder.

A rare early colour view at Adelaide Airport in April 1961 shows VH-TLW & VH-TLU, with a visiting Piper PA-22 Colt 108 VH-CIL.
Photo by Alan Fraser, via Maurice Austin collection.

By July 1962, VH-TLU had been repainted red and white, with the signature SAAT fin flash. It is seen at the early general aviation
parking area at Adelaide Airport, beside the Ansett-ANA hangar.

SAAT purchased Lockheed 12A VH-DMC from Muir Airlines of NT at Darwin in May 1962. It is seen at Adelaide Airport a few days
after delivery, in metallic finish with white and blue trim. It was used mostly in support of oil drilling in the SA Outback.

The Lockheed 12A was quickly changed to VH-TLX to join the SAAT registration series, although it retained the Muir Airlines
water buffalo head emblem on the tail. Adelaide Airport, August 1962.

Unfortunately the Lockheed had a short career with SA Air Taxis. The starboard undercarriage collapsed during landing on a desert salt pan
at Pelican Waterhole, some distance from Birdsville Queensland in October 1962. The aircraft was declared an insurance write-off because
of the remote location.  However it was later repaired and flown out by a Melbourne team and is still flying today.  
Photo: Malcolm Treloar via John M. Smith collection.

DH.104 Dove 5 VH-TLU replaced the Lockheed 12A in October 1962. It retained the airline cabin seating and fittings from its days as
VH-MMP with MacRobertson Miller Airlines in Western Australia.

Cessna 210As were intruduced during 1962. VH-TLV at Adelaide Airport in August 1962. It was to become VH-RCK.

Cessna 210A VH-RDJ was purchased in July 1962 but not reregistered in the VH-TL series. It was to become VH-RCL.

This new Cessna 310G VH-TLY was delivered new to Adelaide Airport on 9 October 1962. It was to become VH-RCK.

Cessna 185A VH-RLA purchased new in September 1963 was the first of many Skywagons used by SAAT. It became VH-RCM.

See SA Air Taxis PART TWO for the rapid expansion of this operator.

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