Thursday, 2 February 2012

It was a big bird.

Mid 1967.
Aircraft DHC2 Beaver.
Approach to land.
Cambridge Airfield.

I was due north of the field, about 10 minutes out from joining the circuit at Cambridge airfield.
In good clear weather. At 1000 feet circuit height, with a radio clearance, to approach and join, for landing, from Air Traffic, Hobart.

Cruising at 120 knts. I was Reducing power to get my airspeed back to 100knts, the approach speed.
Whilst all this happening, I'm drinking a hot cup of coffee and thinking and looking forward ,to my night out.
My mate Tony is flying in from Melbourne, for the week-end , and we are meeting a couple of Tassie ladies at the Air Force club for a meal and drinks. Could be a good night!

I looked up and I saw a couple of large predator type birds, soaring along-side of the hill, on my starboard side.
So there I am? Sipping hot coffee and controlling the aircraft direction with my knees and feet.
One of the birds seem to be showing an interest in me and began to turn in my direction, so I applied a bit of rudder, moving me away from it. Keeping the bird in my field of vision.


The closing speed between us ? became a bit alarming! But still, no real worry?  I just kicked the rudder to turn me further away from the bird. All of a sudden I lost sight of the bird! I promptly applied full rudder and the starboard wing raised and violently stalled  at the same time it was struck by the bird. The stalled wing descended rolling around the longitudinal axes, placing me upside down, the nose fell away spinning and accelerating , everything on the floor of the aircraft became airborne in the cockpit, including my cup of coffee. So there I was upside down descending.

I had to reduce the engine power? but I also had to keep the roll going! before the engine cut out! from lack of fuel, as the fuel tank were now below the engine, oh yes! this could become a bit serious? My airspeed had increased to 180knts and increasing, I applied opposite rudder to the spin, closed the throttle, and pulled out the anti carb ice control. All at the same time! then the aircraft rolled straight, next it was only a matter of pulling her out of the dive? Before striking the trees and without breaking the wing attachment bolts, that is?
I hadn't quite exceeded the maximum manoeuvring speed ? But it was close, So it was gently, gently, on the controls as I raised the nose, with trees racing up to meet me. Not a good feeling!

She ( the aircraft) slowly came around into the normal attitude and as the nose came up,  I applied full power to the engine and flew out of the dive, climbing back up to circuit height. The whole inside of cockpit seem to be covered in coffee, what a waste?
Fancy me, meeting a bird that couldn't fly properly? that's fate for you.

During this entire manoeuvre? which never lasted more than a minute, my thermos remained firmly between my legs, the cap and cup were somewhere on the floor.
Hobart tower had called me asking if  "If I was having difficulties"? also mentioning the fact,
"No aerial aerobatics were aloud within the control zone, below 3000 feet and without permission"?
I responded with "Bird Strike"! and proceeded to join the circuit for landing, calling "finals" on the approach. There were no other problems really? Well! on the approach there was the wee vibration on the starboard wing and the hope that the wing stayed on? But there you go? I'm back on the ground, unhurt apart from a coffee scolding to my nether regions.
I taxied over to the hanger and they found half a bird stuck into the wing, the engineers reckon it would take them 3 days to repair, So it looks like I have couple of days off. beauty!
I would expect to receive a formal request, for a written statement of this incident from the Dept, of Civil  Aviation.within the few days? Don't reckon I'll mention the steering with my feet and drinking coffee bit?, Anyway I have to leave? my big night out.

I picked Tony up from Hobart Airport and we had a good week end, he didn't seem to fancy the Tassie bird. So he went back to Melbourne and married a pomi bird, they had two lovely children, a boy and girl,Trevor an Lee-ann.

Is a  nick name commonly used by just about everybody in Australia, towards British immigrants?  meaning " Prisoner of Mother England". It relates to the early days of prisoners being deported to Australia for crimes , however minor!

"Poverty is the Mother of Crime."


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