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Originally written by TC 1996

(This story is located at Google Earth: "HUGHENDEN" lat=  2048'57.82"S, long= 14413'36.91"E)

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Many many moons ago, I stopped for a couple of days helping out with some cattle mustering in the Hughenden area of Queensland (OZ) while on the way from Brisbane on a four day 3,500 + km ferry trip to Port Hedland in Western Australia to do some Uranium exploration for the French Government.

For Perspective - the flight is about the same distance as from London - past Moscow to Kazan in Russia.






Hughenden is inland, very hot, very dry and has a small airport with a sealed runway a couple of miles outside of town.

After finishing work at Hughenden and before I headed off to Port Hedland, our company flew up a Maintenance engineer and apprentice from the Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast near Brisbane to do a scheduled 300 Hourly inspection on my machine.

I was flying my favorite Bush helicopter - the Hiller UH12E which had a huge stainless steel muffler fitted to the mighty 8.8 litre 305HP Lycoming VO540 engine.

We were just buttoning up the machine after the two day inspection, when an OH58 (military Bell206B Jetranger) landed outside the small passenger terminal looking for Jet A1 fuel. They had previously radioed ahead and now had to wait while the refueller drove out from town.

When I saw the four guys Army team (they must have been on a Navigation Exercise) standing outside their machine in the 50 oC heat coming off the tarmac, I figured that anyone who didn't know to go sit in the shade in that climate was some one we could have a bit of fun with.

So.... the engineer and I poured near enough to 10 litres of the old engine oil (Aeroshell W100) into the Hiller's big muffler and then added the Aeroshell 14 grease from the engineer's helicopter grease gun to make a thick hydrocarbon soup.
We double checked all was OK with the Hiller and then sent the apprentice over to say hullo to the Army guys.

The conversation went something like this:

Army Guys:  "Gidday mate what's happening with the Hiller - is there a problem with it?"

Our Apprentice: " Oh - nothing much. TC said it was occasionally burning a bit of oil so we have had a dekko at it and fixed it up before he heads off across the deserts to WA."

Seeing the apprentice then giving me the secret sign behind his back - I cranked up the Hiller, engaged the clutch, and warmed it up at the lowest revs allowed before I did a test flight so that the engineer could check that all was OK.

The grinning engineer gave me the all clear that there were no oil leaks or other issues and I then gunned off the mighty Hiller into the huge orange setting sun at about 100 Ft AGL using the maximum allowable engine horsepower.

You can imagine the smoke screen pouring out the muffler exhaust pipe when the super hot gases hit the oily hydrocarbon soup - they said it looked like a WWII destroyer trying to hide a whole battle group of ships.

The Army blokes'  jaws dropped at the sight of the volumous cloud of smoke emitting from and enveloping the Hiller and then they just about had a heart attack when the apprentice calmly and matter of factly pronounced:

"Yep - it looks like its going a whole lot better now!!!"

True story



Want to contribute your stories either anonymously or otherwise? Why not send me e-mail ! Your privacy will be respected - your contribution welcomed.


Tony carmody


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