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Friday, December 15, 2017

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 Shahan Russell


In 1940, two planes collided in mid-air over Australia. Remarkably, there were no fatalities. Even more remarkably, the pilot responsible for saving the planes was punished.
Our story begins at the No. 2 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Station Forest Hill close to Wagga Wagga, New South Wales (NSW). WWII was on, so Britain set up the Empire Air Training Scheme throughout its territories to produce as many fighter pilots as possible.
They were to master instrument flying, flying at night, navigating cross-country, flying in formation, aerobatic stunts, dive bombing, and of course, aerial gunnery. By July 1940, the school was still being built, but trainees had the use of Avro Ansons – British twin-engine craft designed for maritime reconnaissance missions.

Enter our hero – Flying Officer Leonard Graham Fuller, born on August 9, 1918 in Cootamundra, NSW. There’s also Flight Lieutenant Ian Menzies Sinclair (December 25, 1913 Genn Innes, NSW). Next is Leading Aircraftman Jack Inglis Hewson (August 11, 1921 Newcastle, NSW). And finally, Hugh Gavin Fraser (April 9, 1913 Camberwell, Victoria).
On September 29, 1940 the men went on a cross-country training exercise. Fuller piloted Tail number N4876 with Sinclair as his navigator, while Hewson flew the L9162 with Fraser as navigator. They were to fly over the towns of Corowa and Narrandera before returning to base.
It all went well till they reached the town of Brocklesby – a place so small that according to the 2006 census, it only had a population of 238 people. Small wonder, then, that they only bothered to set up a hotel in 2000.
Nothing much happens in Brocklesby, and about the only exciting thing they have is a pigeon club (seriously). As such, most Australians didn’t even know it existed… until Fuller came along, that is.
The men were at 1,000 feet when they made a banking turn, after which it all went downhill from there – literally. Hewson flew a little below Fuller’s plane when the latter lost sight of him… but not for long because the two collided.

Avro Anson ZK-RRA Image Source: Oren Rozen CC BY-SA 3.0
Avro Anson ZK-RRA – By Oren Rozen – CC BY-SA 3.0

According to Fuller, there was a “grinding crash and a bang as roaring propellers struck each other and bit into the engine cowlings.” Engine cowlings cover a plane’s engine, cool it by directing air flow into it, and reduce drag on the plane when in flight.
So now the planes were stuck to each other. Hewson’s turret had not only wedged itself into the upper plane’s port wing root (the area beneath the left wing), but his fin and rudder had also whacked the underside of Fuller’s port tailplane (the stabilizer at the rear of the plane).
It couldn’t possibly have gotten worse, but it did. The Cootamundra-born pilot’s engines stopped working. Fuller tried to restart his engines, but it was a no-go. And a good thing, too, or his propellers might have sliced through the lower plane.
But Fuller’s propellers had already pummeled Hewson’s fuselage before conking out, so the damage was done. The Newcastle man had hurt his back. The fused planes began circling over the tiny town while its pilots wondered what to do next.

The sideview of the two Ansons just outside Brocklesby Image Source: Wikipedia / Public Domain
Side view of the two Ansons just outside Brocklesby

Unable to do more, Hewson ordered his navigator to bail. Reluctantly, Fraser did just that. Fuller gave his navigator the same order, so Sinclair also jumped. Then he told Hewson to do the same. Despite his pain, and with a bit of maneuvering as well as a lot of swearing, the injured pilot managed it.
So now there was one. Fortunately, the lower plane’s engines were still working. And while Fuller could no longer get his own to start, he was able to control his ailerons and flaps. With those responding and with the now-empty plane’s engines still running, Fuller considered his options.
Scanning the ground below, he remembered his training. Fuller managed another 5 miles before zooming toward the ground below. Then he made an emergency pancake landing (the technical term for a belly flop without the landing gear extended) in a large open field.

Fuller (right) with Australian High Commissioner, Stanley Bruce, in London in 1941 Image Source: Wikipedia / Public Domain
Fuller (right) with Australian High Commissioner, Stanley Bruce, in London in 1941

He slid some 200 yards across grass before finally stopping some 4 miles southwest of Brocklesby – putting it on the international map thanks to all the publicity it finally got. It would also receive a VIP – Group Captain Arthur “Spud” Murphy.
Murphy and Captain Henry Wrigley became famous in 1919 for flying from Melbourne to Darwin – the first trans-Australian flight. By 1940 Murphy was also the RAAF’s Inspector of Air Accidents, which was why he flew directly from Melbourne to Brocklesby.
Fuller was still there, and when asked to explain, replied, “Well, sir, I did everything we’ve been told to do in a forced landing — land as close as possible to habitation or a farmhouse and, if possible, land into the wind. I did all that. There’s the farmhouse, and I did a couple of circuits and landed into the wind. She was pretty heavy on the controls, though!”
The media loved it! Brocklesby could have been obliterated – especially since there wasn’t (and still isn’t) much of it to destroy. Fuller was a hero!
Equally important, however, was that he had saved the government £40,000 – the combined value of both planes. Given the ongoing war, Australia needed to save as much money and resources as it possibly could.

Brockleby's monument to the collision incident Image Source: Mattinbgn CC BY-SA 3.0
Brockleby’s monument to the collision incident -By Mattinbgn CC BY-SA 3.0

The planes were repaired and put back in use as training vehicles. Hewson got treated for his back, Fuller was rewarded with the rank of sergeant, and it should have ended there. But it didn’t.
The RAAF wanted to investigate the incident more fully, so they put Fuller on gag orders while they did so. Unfortunately, he couldn’t resist the media spotlight and gave out several interviews.
To punish him, he was confined to barracks for two weeks and was denied a week’s pay. The following month, they commended him and sent him off to Europe (where he received a Distinguished Flying Medal in March 1942) and the Middle East.
Later that year, Fuller returned to Australia where he tragically died – but not in combat. While bicycling near Sale on March 18, 1944 he was hit by a bus. The man who survived an air collision and several aerial dogfights was killed on land by public transportation.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Members' Page

Member's Activities:-

November 24th

Was a perfect Autumn day for a Winter building project.

Tell us about your Winter project ( so it can be shared here.
We started off with some repair work on the victim of our most dramatic crash of the past flying season. Later when we get back from down South, it will be time to do some work on a Pica WACO biplane that has been sitting around half finished for far too long.
A Show and Tell video on our repair work.

October 21 th

Was a perfect summer day in the Autumn, a day without a cloud in the sky and very little of wind.

Finally success  after it was grounded for more than a year due to a software screw up that set the maximum motor speed to 50 when the correct value should be 1000. I worked on finding a solution far too long, then Andre applied his technical skills during a marathon session one evening and voila, he came up with the magic key. Just one of the risks of  using web based services like Mission Planner to update your drone's parameters. Another lesson learned, if it is working leave it alone.

July 30th

Was a perfect summer day without a cloud in the sky and barely a breath of wind. A very good turnout of flyers and electrics seem to steal the show. Cal was there with a Mini Avanti  that flew and sounded so great that we all thought it was powered by a mini turbine. I want one!

July 23th

Was an overcast day 5/8 to 7/8 at 6000 feet , winds 040 True at 4 knots.  We met Mike at the top of the drive, he was just leaving after a successful session of electric flying.

After a couple of flights with my Electric Beaver we tried setting up the 120 size Zero.  The Enya 120 4C started instantly and ran smoothly without any need for  further adjustments.

 First time I used this setup structure and I must say that I am loving it.

Take off 
On downwind landing leg the Zero's luck suddenly ran out and she was last seen in a terminal vertical dive. 
A recce flight with the Beaver  failed to locate the wreckage but after inspecting the video we have a better idea of where she might be located.
 July 6th

We spent the day at the field and were surprised to find that the water has dried up nicely after all the rain that we have been having lately.

June 28th

We spent the day at the field mainly checking our equipment but did managed a takeoff with a light weight PT 20 with large balloon tires. The field was a little soggy in places and that was before 3 days of continuous rain.

March 21st

Canada Bans Drones??

I was just wondering what our members think about the latest rules (Laws) that our Transport Minister has come up with concerning the the use of RC flying in Canada?
Here is what others are saying:
From RC Forum
It appears that Canada has gone full retard. The new law, which applies to any drone (but worded so that it actually applies to ALL RC) that weighs more than 250 grams (so basically all of them but the cheapest toy grades) and bans: Flying within 9 km of any airport (so pretty much no flying in or around any city ever) Flying within 9 km of anyplace else a manned aircraft could theoretically land (which would include any empty field that a helicopter could fit in) Flying more than 90 meters high (no more flying over trees or hills) Flying within 75 meters of ANY structure, vehicle, vessel, person (including presumably yourself or your own home or vehicle) or ANIMAL ( and it makes no distinction what kind so it would include squirrels and birds) Flying more than 500 meters away At night In clouds, or anywhere they think you can't see it Over any forest fire, "emergency response scene (undefined)," or controlled airspace And you must put your entire name, address, and phone number on the drone So basically they have banned flying any RC aircraft wieghing more than 250 grams anywhere in Canada except at "approved fields." Hope you like high resolution footage of an empty field, because that is all you are allowed to get now if you fly in Canada.  

October 17th
Hank is also enjoying the beautiful weather, flying his big Norseman from the beach up on Georgian Bay. Sent this picture by our new Facebook drop-box. Anyone with a Facebook account can join; just send a request to us at Dunrobin RC Flyers Photo and Video Dropbox

October 7th

The beautiful weather never seems to end for me; it must be what they call "The Endless Summer".  The great flying with 20 C temperatures and 5 K winds gave me an unexpected opportunity to put a couple of old birds into the air that have been with me far too long (one for more than 50 years). I have been making changes to them over the years and just wanted to give them one more chance at flight.