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You'd have to be unlucky - 2 crashes in one day...


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Charles Henry Pite received news that his father was dying in one of the Eastern States, and drove from Bedford Downs Station to Halls Creek, to catch a commercial (MMA) flight.

This multi-seat aircraft (described as an MMA Dragon, and piloted by the famous Horrie Miller himself), crashed on takeoff on the morning of Wednesday 7th November 1934, when it failed to gain adequate altitude on takeoff.

The Dragon struck a fence at the end of the runway and crashed, with no injuries to pilot or passengers.

 

This crash, typical of the time, barely received a mention in any newspaper reports. Aircraft crashes were only reported in this era when there were - A., witnesses, and B., spectacular, fiery crashes, with injuries and fatalities.

Later that day, a "small mailplane" (identified in later reports as an MMA Gipsy Moth) arrived at Halls Creek from Ord River Station, to pick up the mail from the crashed Dragon.

There was only one passenger seat available on the Moth, and the other passengers insisted that Pite take that only available seat, as his mission to see his dying father was deemed urgent.

 

Upon arrival at Ord River Station, late Wednesday afternoon (reportedly 5:50PM), the pilot of the Moth, one John Miles, stalled the aircraft whilst circling to view the windsock, and the Moth crashed very destructively.

Miles was badly injured and Pite was very badly injured, and he died 2-1/2 hrs after the crash. Pite was buried hurriedly at Ord River Station by station workers on the Friday.

 

One Inspector Collopy of the Civil Aviation Dept, who had been a passenger on the Dragon, upon learning of the Gipsy Moth crash on Wednesday night, left Halls Creek on the same night, and travelled with an AIM nurse (Sister Anderson) 200 miles through the night to Ord River Station, to attend to Miles serious injuries.

Charles Petulla, the manager of Flora Downs, supplied and drove the car with Collopy and Anderson on board. They arrived at ORS on Thursday morning.

 

A Dr R.J. Coto also drove 200 miles through the night from Wyndham to Ord River Station, on the Thursday, to reach Miles and treat him. Coto arrived at 3:00AM on the Friday morning, and also treated Miles, specifically for his badly broken arm.

 

Collopy had telegraphed the CAD from Halls Creek on the Wednesday night, directly upon learning of the Gipsy Moth crash, seeking the urgent services of Dr J.K. Fenton in Darwin, to go pick up the injured pilot, Miles, and transfer him to hospital.

But Fentons aircraft was under repair, and he was unable to leave Darwin until 7:30PM on the Thursday. He made it to Pine Creek the same evening, where darkness obviously stopped his journey.

 

At dawn on the Friday, Fenton took off again for Ord River Station, passing over Wave Hill, and reached ORS at 10:00AM on the same day.

He made Miles as comfortable as possible, and transported him in his aircraft to the Wyndham Hospital. Miles made a full recovery and later testified at the coronial inquest in Wyndham (presided over by Dr R.J. Coto!), that the engine of the Moth cut out as he circled to view the windsock, and the machine stalled and crashed very quickly.

 

The crash was deemed a simple accident, and the coronial inquiry deemed Pites death as the result of an accident.

 

As so often happened in the dangerous aviation era of the early 1930's, the crash of the Dragon and the Moth, immediately halved the available MMA fleet!

 

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/32799164

 

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/32821929

 

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/70238560

Edited by onetrack
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