THE LOSS OF DAKOTA A65-106  

This is Dakota A65-106 at RAAF Edinburgh shortly before her loss in July 1961

C47B constructors number 33290, A65-106 was delivered to the RAAF in May 1945 and spent time with 37 Squadron, ARDU and 2ATU.   Another of the RAAFs venerable C47 fleet, alas she was destined to end her career prematurely, at 7:05 pm on 31st July 1961, on a rainy hill top in Western Australia.      The aircraft and crew had been travelling to a number of locations around Australia on a task for NASA, and were in WA calibrating the Muchea Tracking Station in support of a Project Mercury space launch.   They had intended to leave for home base, RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia, earlier in the day, however the calibration had been delayed due to technical difficulties at Muchea which, being a mobile tracking station, was not as electronically stable as the fixed installations.   A65-106 finally departed Pearce off Runway 18 (to the South) after dusk and in passing rain showers.   

Leading Aircraftsman (later Warrant Officer) Bill Miles survived the crash and remembers well, events of that fateful evening.   He had been seated in the very rear of the aircraft reading the Rigby Cartoon in his evening newspaper.   Being responsible for the maintenance of the aircraft, he was wondering where the water dripping on him was coming from and why he was only holding fragments of his paper.   He found he was sitting upright in his seat in the bush relatively unscathed surrounded by burning aircraft wreckage.  To his surprise, he found that there were two other passengers, a civilian, Neil McBain and another airman Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) Tony Leiper, in front of him in the bush, also comparatively uninjured, also still sitting in their seats.      Miles and Leiper went back into the burning remains of the rear cockpit area and were able to rescue the injured Navigator, Flying Officer (FLGOFF) Bob White and Signaller, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) John Cook whom they sheltered from the rain under an inflated emergency dinghy.


This is Dakota A65-106 at RAAF Edinburgh shortly before her loss in July 1961

C47B constructors number 33290, A65-106 was delivered to the RAAF in May 1945 and spent time with 37 Squadron, ARDU and 2ATU. Another of the RAAFs venerable C47 fleet, alas she was destined to end her career prematurely, at 7:05 pm on 31st July 1961, on a rainy hill top in Western Australia. The aircraft and crew had been travelling to a number of locations around Australia on a task for NASA, and were in WA calibrating the Muchea Tracking Station in support of a Project Mercury space launch. They had intended to leave for home base, RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia, earlier in the day, however the calibration had been delayed due to technical difficulties at Muchea which, being a mobile tracking station, was not as electronically stable as the fixed installations. A65-106 finally departed Pearce off Runway 18 (to the South) after dusk and in passing rain showers.

Leading Aircraftsman (later Warrant Officer) Bill Miles survived the crash and remembers well, events of that fateful evening. He had been seated in the very rear of the aircraft reading the Rigby Cartoon in his evening newspaper. Being responsible for the maintenance of the aircraft, he was wondering where the water dripping on him was coming from and why he was only holding fragments of his paper. He found he was sitting upright in his seat in the bush relatively unscathed surrounded by burning aircraft wreckage. To his surprise, he found that there were two other passengers, a civilian, Neil McBain and another airman Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) Tony Leiper, in front of him in the bush, also comparatively uninjured, also still sitting in their seats. Miles and Leiper went back into the burning remains of the rear cockpit area and were able to rescue the injured Navigator, Flying Officer (FLGOFF) Bob White and Signaller, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) John Cook whom they sheltered from the rain under an inflated emergency dinghy.


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