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Tony's Pages






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Originally written by TC 1999

143° This story is located about north of Hughenden'- Queensland - Australia.77"E

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 "The Batcopter"



The Batcopter was the nickname for a black and red or red and black – we never figured which was more correct – Hiller UH12E.




This poor machine could have told many stories about close calls (with the late good guy Stan the Man - pictured above - in the hot seat) in the OZ bush, such as the time in 1980, that a Geiger counter inexplicitly decided to jam itself between the bubble and Tail Rotor control pedals on landing.

The ensuing interesting landing caused its skid uprights to get as bent as the bumpers on a red "P" plater's first car.

Stan the Man eventually left to join the TV industry and the Batcopter had a new driver.


When the phone rang very late one night, I knew it was the Batcopter’s new pilot on the other end as I couldn’t hear anything but a laboured breathing sound over a crackling line - this was in the days that a telephone had a cable connecting it to a wall.

This guy was a really nice, very quiet person – but different.

Maybe it was nerves – who knows as he had evidently always been the same – however it always took him about 90 seconds to get the first syllable of his first word out and only then was he OK to finish off a sentence over a long period - if he spoke slowly

This night the first syllable took 2 minutes and was extending so I figured that something was up.

The conversation went like this:

“I” (imagine an “I” spread over 2 + minutes coming from your telephone)

“Is that you X……….”” I said.

“Y…..” – 1 minute later – “es” he completed saying

After these formalities X… advised that he was still mustering North of Hughenden in some hilly high country and that he wanted an engineer to come up and replace the Main rotor blade tips as he had “a slight problem” that afternoon.


The engineer called me 3 days later after he had found X…. and the Batcopter both camped out on a flat in the middle of nowhere enjoying the quiet life of fishing by a Billabong

“Bloody hell” – he said – “Did X…. tell you the whole story?”

“Not a hope in hell” I said – “I needed to get to work by 0800 and there are only so many words an hour which will follow each other over an old phone line at the speed X… talks”


And then it all came out.

Seems that X… was a good keen man and didn’t want to ever run low on fuel as he has strapped a 44 gallon (200 Litre) drum of AVGAS on the external litter on each side and had them each about half+ full to balance each other off.

X… wasn’t a little guy and the grazier he took up with him that sweaty afternoon was heavier still.

Put them both in the machine, fill up the main fuel tank, add the weight of the external fuel drums and the Batcopter must have been really struggling in the 35 oC OAT and 2000 Ft AMSL altitude.

That’s probably why it hit the dead tree in a ravine which took about 12 inches off each Main Rotor blade before a big branch broke loose and smashed down through the Perspex bubble, knocking the grazier unconscious.


I always knew that X…. was a good keen company man who wanted to get the job done, as the blood spattered grazier tells the story of being shaken roughly – while the machine was still rattling and shaking thru the air with bits of Perspex waving in the breeze - to a long winded “wake up – wake up – you will have to get out here and wait as the cows are getting away!”

The Batcopter was never the same after this and the other funny thing is that we never used X…. again after that either - I’m not sure why

True Story




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