THE LOSS OF DC4 VH-ANA "AMANA"
17 images in this album on 2 pages.
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CRASH SITES and MEMORIALS
The excellent Air Museum in the country town of Beverley, West Australia has a memorial to the Amana tragedy, consisting of the starboard undercarriage leg and an appropriate plaque on display outside the Museum building. The Museums collection of aviation history is well worth a visit.
The Captain, Robert James Crockford Chapple, was a very capable pilot who had considerable experience flying VIP ops during wartime. He was not supposed to command "Amana" that night, he was on standby and was called in to replace the rostered Captain at the last moment. There is a possibility that he may have briefly survived the accident as he was found out of his seat and clear of the fire. However, only one passenger, Mr Edgar W Forwood seated in seat 29, survived long enough to give an account of his experience in the cabin. Unfortunately he too succumbed to injuries a few days later. This brought the loss of life to 29, which, along with the loss of Fokker Friendship VH-TFB off Mackay 10 years later, remains to date the worst loss of life in an Australian civil aircraft accident.
This Crash Site is on private farming property and I am very much indebted to the owners for allowing me to indulge my interest. Farmers are busy people who cannot be inundated with sightseers and souvenir hunters. Consequently while I am more than happy to provide genuine researchers with what I know regarding this crash, I am not at liberty to give out the precise location.
There are many more details regarding the circumstances of this crash than I am able to tell here. The accident investigation concentrated on a water in the fuel theory however, although not pursued by the investigation team, those in the know believed that air in the fuel lines was the most likely culprit. I absolutely recommend Chapter 9 of Air Crash Vol 2 by Macarthur Job in which he tells of information known to the Guildford ANA Staff at the time. Information that offers a very plausible answer as to why the remains of VH-ANA Amana come to be scattered across the beautiful West Australian countryside. If you are interested in aviation safety, anything written by Macarthur Job is a "Must Read".
"Amana", being registered with the company initials ANA, was used extensively in publicity media of the day.
Following her tragic loss however, in a effort to recover from a bruised public image, the focus was hurriedly switched to a new flagship VH-AND "Tatana".
Notice in these two publicity postcards that the photos are identical, actually both "Amana". The bottom one, following an urgent call to the printers, has been doctored to represent "Tatana".
Late News: Recently some more wreckage from Amana has been found on the farm, well away from the main crash site. I estimate that the location is on track from Perth, at about the point where the aircraft commenced the left turn back to Guildford.
I have compared the wreckage with VH-PAF an airworthy C54 (Military version of the DC 4) based at Archerfield and believe that much of it (if not all) comes from a wing.
Notice that this piece includes an inspection flap identical to that seen on the underside of the wing. It also appears to have the remains of the painted registration letters ANA.
This component appears to be a piece of wing skin.
Although badly contorted, the piece shows evidence, on one face only, of a fire that occured before the aluminium was folded. An attached screw head would suggest that the fire damaged face was inside the wing. Eye witnesses reported a small flash very shortly before a massive flash that lit the sky.
Thus I have a theory that Amana, with three engines now running, and just pulling up out of the dive, first struck trees much earlier than was initially determined and in doing so ruptured and ignited an out-board fuel tank which caused significant damage to the wing.
If the damage was to the left (port) wing, resulting in an equally significant loss of lift, the subsequent turn to the left as identified in the accident report, may not have been intentional. Had Amana been just a little higher, the crew may, just may have effected a recovery. In the event she turned north into higher ground, struck the large tree shown previously and was lost.
Looking west, the direction from which the aircraft came, possibly striking trees on the hill in the background. Note the new wreckage in the foreground.
It must have taken an exceptional piece of flying and CRM to determine why engines one, two and three had failed and to recover them again, at 10:12 at night, while gliding from a mere five or six thousand feet, and while trying to prevent the heavy airliner from stalling. Did they still have cockpit lighting? Was the aircraft controlable following the initial contact with the trees?
The inquiry was moderately critical of the crew for not contacting ATC with the problem.
There is a saying in the flying game,"Aviate, Navigate, Communicate, in that order".
I'm sorry Your Honour but under the circumstances I feel the crew were probably busy attending to step one.
ADF-Serials Image Gallery
CRASH SITES and MEMORIALS