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Metal has memory
Tony's Pages







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143° This story is located in Queensland, Australia

Google Earth Co-ordinates: Lat  21°56'34.15"S  - Long 142°42'20.04"E )

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Its always been, unexplainably, that I often can “feel” that something was/is/will happen.

Before I switch to a music radio channel I can sometimes hum the tune which will first come through the speakers;    I look at someone and know that their dream of a long life will not be fulfilled;    I know what has happened to/around the person calling me when I pick up the telephone;    I feel the presence of someone I know well when they are near.

 Its weird, its true and those around me know it still occasionally happens - maybe I shouldn't consume so much chocolate and South American red wine.


One of nature’s gentlemen, JB proved to be an honest, reliable and trustworthy helicopter maintenance engineer with flying skills to match.

If you couldn’t see him in the hanger or office, you knew he was around the place as his floppy eared brown hunting dog, Herby, would be running all over the airfield chasing birds, shadows and his tail.


JB often did long haul flights from Caloundra to places like Darwin (2000+kms) in the company's 1980 C210 VH-FFY to maintain us in the field.

Looking back now at some of the rough bush strips he operated into in the power sapping Outback heat and humidity, I figure that his flying and survival skills must have not only been learnt well through experience but also inherited from his Ag pilot Father.


I had been out with Kiwi Mike for about two or three weeks in the Winton area in the 4 place Hiller UH12E (see “The Pig”) and about mid morning we were spraying Nogoora burr in some river beds on Ayrshire Downs - a sheep station way out beyond the black stump in the middle of nowhere.




“ There’s the marker tree I finished the last run at;    down we go;    airspeed hold 35 kts;    spray valve on;    watch the tree branches coming up above us to the right;    watch out for logs sticking up;    can’t hit anything at this speed and altitude otherwise I’m stuffed;    drift away from a low tree branch with tail rotor input;    straighten up;    pull the rotor disc down as we go under a telephone wire so the back of the disc doesn’t hit it;    check spray boom pressure Ok;    where did those bloody sheep jump out from – they nearly hit the spray boom;    check the engine oil pressure and revs;    15 minutes fuel left;    spray off;    lets get up and out of here and get another tank full of chemical and some more fuel”.

These thoughts were running through my busy mind on each spray run while looking for the burr under the treeline as the routine continued unabated.


Then it happened – I felt that JB was close by.


Changing the VHF radio channel from 1234.5 on which I talked to Kiwi Mike back at the loading site, to the local aviation frequency I called “JB are you there?”

“Is that you TC – where are you?” came immediately back from JB.

Turns out that he was straight above me at 10,000 ft enroute to Darwin in the 210.


About six months later, back at Caloundra, I was in the office and felt something was not working well for JB – who was away on another trip and due back soon.


For some reason I ran out onto the airstrip just before the distinctive sound of the 210 on descent from altitude made its presence known.

Sure enough, while I stood there, the 210 did a low pass over the strip and something came out the window and landed beside me.

It was a flight plan wrapped around a weight and on it JB had scribbled: “Total electrical failure – can’t check if the wheels have come down”.




JB at Townsville - fascinated by the Military Caribou aircraft training

True story







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