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Old 09-25-2018, 03:28 PM   #288
woofa.express
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Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Tocumwal, NSW, Australia
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Default Re: tell a Model A related story

#3. Accident in Helicopter. 1973.

Well I really messed up what was a good machine.

Willaroo Station was 5 million acres of mixed country west of Katherine N.T. A large part had been cleared and sown to sorghum. The balance was of mixed quality grazing country. The property was won in a government land ballet and the winner was also an operator of a helicopter fleet. Thus the station was provided a permanent helicopter for stock mustering and general use. Sometimes the station had two and on this day three, the third simply passing through enroute to other work.
The three were parked fairly closely together with an old VW Kombi used as parts storage infront along with farming items and windsock. One could not takeoff over these obstructions so it was practise to turn 180 and depart from where the helicopters were parked. My machine was in the middle of the other two. I gassed from a 44 gallon drum and hand pump. Because I had to back out before I turned I did not bother to remove the drum on the right. Big mistake.
I had not expected what was to follow. I cranked and was warming up when unexpectedly the helicopter on my right also cranked. Well I did what I considered gentlemanly and let him warm up and depart. Well no longer did I have to reverse out. My right was clear so I quickly and perhaps too quickly did a wide sweeping turn to the right to face the opposite direction for my departure. Not back out as planned. Well you can see what was going to happen can’t you? Yes, I struck the 44 and rolled into the dirt. It doesn’t take long to trash a perfectly good helicopter with blades whirling around and slapping the ground.
I had accrued at the time a little over 3K hours flying of which 1008 was in helicopters. Haven’t flown one since. Got the sack and went back to agricultural work which was much more rewarding besides being more lucrative. I remain in that industry today and will until I retire next year.
When I was at flying school in 1966 a well known accident investigator by the name of Paddy someone gave a talk on accidents in general. I distinctly remember him saying a change in plan leads to increased risk. Here is a case of just that. What would have prevented this accident. Answer. Shifting the 44 following refuelling of course.
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