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Remember When?: DC3 Heavy Load out of PNG
Posted by admin on Monday, March 20 @ 15:41:09 EST
Contributed by teecee
Stories and Flying Tales In 1982, I was working as load controller for TAA, and I was in the cargo shed in Launceston when I heard a familiar sound, the thrum of a DC3's engine. So I walked out and there was a sight I never thought I'd see again. VH-UPQ, a DC3 that I was despatcher for in the Alice in the early seventies. She did the Ayers Rock (as it was back then) run in those days (1974 I think) for Connellan Airways, and was flown at that time by Christine Davy, now a member of the Australian Pioneer Womens Hall of Fame, and the first woman in Aus to hold a captain's licence for passenger aircraft.

The config from memory for UPQ back then was for sixteen passengers, and I recall one, or maybe two occasions when Christine brought that old bird home on one engine. (Did you know the DC3 has a greater wing area than the DC9? Makes for a very stable aircraft). Anyway UPQ now belonged to a group called Rebel Air, and was running cargo YMML - YMLT, and had lost a magneto. I spoke briefly with the captain, and told him of my association with the old bird, in return he told me he had flown the same aircraft before Connellan got it, back in the late fifties/early sixties in PNG. He then told me this story, and remember the config when you read this, and that PNG natives are very small people.

He was contracted to move a bunch of native workers across PNG, I think to a mine or some such, and because they were going for a long period, they were taking their families too. So there he is, parked on the grass at a highland village, a huge crowd of natives, men, women, children, and baby pigs (they had to go too, as the native women breast fed them), and he started to load the aircraft. Just taking a headcount (and guessing the weights), and as he came close to being full, and overloaded, who should drive up but the last man he wanted to see at that time. The District officer, the man that ruled the world (at least that little part of it) and the man with the authority to cause our pilot a lot of grief, and this one was one of the worst, a retired English army captain, and a stiffnecked old sod to boot. Up he marches, moustache bristling, walking cane swinging.
DC3 VH-UPQ"I say" says the officer "How many passengers do you have?"
"oh well" thinks our captain, "in for a penny, in for a pound" so he says "last count it was ninety four".
This included the babies, but he did not mention that.
The District officer's eyes bulged, and he sort of staggered, and uttered weakly. "F**k". Then turned and walked dazedly away.

UPQ took off, and the pilot heard no more about the incedent. VH-UPQ ended up being broken up for spares at Bankstown. This is probably the last photo of her.

Terry Carr.


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