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On this Day - 5th January - 2 unrelated disasters happened


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Two of Australias major disasters occurred on this day - one was the result of pure evil, and the other was the result of pure carelessness and incompetence.


On the 5th January 1977 - 45 years ago today - a crooked, embittered, angry, murderous and truly evil individual, flew a Beech Baron 58 into the Connellan Airways headquarters and hangar at Alice Springs on a suicide mission, and killed 5 people, including Eddie Connellans son, Roger. This evil event shocked the nation, and ruined Eddie Connellans plans for succession of his business to his son. This event was the first suicide attack by a pilot within Australia. Another one occurred at Bankstown in 1982.


There is only one small memorial to this evil event, a small plaque installed by Rotary in Stuart Park in Alice Springs, memorialises those innocents who lost their lives that infamous day.  Virtually all the people involved, simply preferred to forget it.

Probably the biggest irony is that the murderous individual was buried in the Alice Springs cemetery, within sight of Eddie Connellans grave.

If I'd had any say in it, I'd have ensured this twisted murderous individual had no grave. Fittingly, his own family and relatives have erased him and his memory from their family history.






Also - On the 5th January 1975, a bulk carrier ship, the Lake Illawarra, carrying 10,000 tonnes of zinc ore concentrate, ran into the supporting spans of the Tasman Bridge, causing the bridge to totally collapse. Four cars drove over the edge of the broken bridge, killing 5 occupants. 2 cars managed to stop, just teetering on the edge of the broken bridge.

The driver of one of the teetering cars, Murray Ling, climbed out successfully, and tried to stop other motorists - but 2 cars drove straight past him, over the edge of the bridge, resulting in their occupants deaths. One of those cars even swerved around Ling, to drive over the edge of the broken bridge. Ling managed to stop a bus full of people, which crashed into the bridge railings as it came to a stop.

The master of the Lake Illawarra, one Captain Boleslaw Pelc was found guilty of carelessness in his handling of his ship, and his Masters Certificate was suspended for 6 mths. I'm afraid that if I was in charge of dishing out the penalty, I'd have ensured this bloke went back to flipping burgers for life.







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It was very sad that Connellan airways came to such an end. It was a big part of my childhood to ride my bike out there and see the DH 84's., then the Beechcraft in later days.  I well remember Wally Woods with a Staggerwing which looked as sleek as you could imagine. The old hangar is still there, as a museum surrounded by suburbs.

I never would have imagined that the time of airplanes would pass, nor the fact that Connellan himself wanted to be a grazier ...  he bought Hamilton Downs and moved there, and with the sealing of the Tanami road, I think that a car would be used to go to town shopping.


Edited by Bruce Tuncks
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