Writing this article on the day that manned flight turned 100, I am encouraged by the evolution of cockpit design, pilot training and the operational conduct of aviation. All these factors had a bearing on this accident and have improved steadily, minimising the dangers to life in an element where man can only ever be a visitor. The 23 lives lost at 05:12 in the early morning Queensland fog, all contributed to this ongoing evolution.
Nevertheless, attitudes still seem to be the hardest things to change, and even given the culture of wartime operations, I still feel that a verdict of pilot error without asking “what factors caused the error” was unjustifiably harsh on the crew of A65-2.
Of the 23 killed, 21 are buried in the superbly maintained War Graves section of Lutwyche Cemetery. Halliwell and Skinner were returned to the USA.
In compiling this report I am indebted to Mr Peter Dunn and his most excellent web site (and CD) "Australia @ War" wherein I first learned of the crash of A65-2. Also to "Flyingzone Publications" for the Boeing 737 Cockpit image. "Australia @ War" and "Flyingzone" are accessible via our "Site Link" page.
---Feedback provided by Kevin Smith---
I note your comments re the instrument panel of the C47 and the picture that you have provided. This looks to be a standard DC3 instrument panel as used by almost everyone. The centre instruments are an Artificial Horizon and a Directional Gyro plus a Suction Gauge, which is the small gauge on the right of the box. These were the instruments to run the Auto Pilot and served as the second set of flight instruments in later days in the civil world. Any DC3 co-pilot would have been thoroughly familiar with a wide scan when conducting Instrument flying as the Air Speed Indicator and Altimeter were normally in front of the co pilot and can be seen in your picture at the top of the panel. The other instruments on the RH panel were all engine instruments, and additionally, the row of instruments along the bottom of the centre panel were the Tachometers, Manifold Pressure Gauges, Fuel Pressure and usually Oil Pressure Gauges. The co-pilot seat nearly always had the cushion worn in a lean to the left because of the need to be monitoring the gauges in the centre panel. We certainly have come a long way in panel layout design, but as always, it?s what you are used to and how you make it work.
I agree with the other comment that the gyros were not uncaged, and one wonders how good the checklists and monitoring by the second pilot was. I am aware that even in the 50?s and 60?s it remained Air Force policy to have only the one pilot that was effectively ?endorsed? on the type and to use whoever may have been available to act as second pilot. I recall one of the last ARDU flights that went through Moorabbin a couple of years ago still had only the one pilot plus a signaller or similar in the RH seat.
I am in Melbourne and of the DC3?s that are still flying here, only one that I am aware of (AES) still has the Auto Pilot fitted, the other two, TMQ and OVM (A65-98) both have a full set of flight instruments in the RH instrument panel and no auto pilot. I have never had the opportunity to look inside the privately owned machine (AGU) in the Latrobe Valley, so am unable to quote this one, and I can?t remember what the Ansett machine (ABR) configuration is.
I note that you have an enormous amount of data recorded on the C47 series and am grateful to be able to refer to what you have done.
I would like to thank Ron Cuskelly for the photo of Archerfield Terminal in camouflage paint scheme. Ron's excellent Lockheed website can be accessed through the ADF-Serials Links page.