We recognised early on that the only practical means of obtaining the materials we needed to build and operate AO5 was for them to be donated. Potential donors would be more likely to donate if they knew of the project and us. We therefore embarked on a deliberate program of publicising what we were doing. We learned how to write press releases to attract attention and then how to present ourselves at press interviews.
Without counting, there were dozens and dozens of newspaper articles and not a few television and radio interviews. Our names became known and we were able to telephone donors, announce who we were and be admitted to the offices of senior management to plead for a donation of their product. Have a look at the list of acknowledgements at the end of the Users' Guide, and you can see how successful the publicity campaign was.
Beginning with some second hand propeller feathering motors from Convair aircraft (from Ansett Airlines) to drive our new quad helix antenna, to electronic and mechanical components and travel grants, AO5 relied on these kind donors. My favourite such case was announcing ourselves at Henderson Spring Works saying that we wanted a matched pair of springs to eject AO5 from the launch rocket. We weren't thrown out but listened to seriously and in a week or two we collected two matched springs. They remain attached to AO5 circling the earth every 100 minutes or so, undoubtedly amongst the few bed springs in space.
A visit to the Potter Foundation is another such occasion. We were ushered into the chairman's office on the top floor (number 15) of Melbourne's only "skyscraper". In front of us was a breathtaking view of the Domain, the Botanic Gardens, Government House and the Shrine bathed in brilliant autumn sunshine. Polite conversation admiring the view ensued until Owen, with all the aplomb of a herd of wild elephants, said that it was a lovely view - except for the railway yards at the foot of the building. The chairman came over, put his arm on Owen's shoulders and said, "Not to me. I built those rail yards when I was Minister for Railways in the 1930s." The chairman? Sir Robert Menzies, KT, AK, CH, PC, QC, FAA, FRS, ex-Prime Minister of Australia. We got two travel grants from the Foundation.