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Yarns

Tuff Stuff!
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the text that accompanied the photo.
 

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maybe this attachment will work.
 

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This story is a bit hard to believe but did happen just the way Wayne describes it. The guy was a very highly experienced ag pilot and was in the industry a long time. I have a book with a photo and some text that I have sent to Rob because I dont seem to be able to attach it. Hopefully he can do it for me.
 
Here’s a story that I heard about many years ago and a few weeks ago I asked my uncle, a retired a/c engineer with heaps of great stories about aviation, about the incident. It involved the top-dressing (crop dusting) business in the 50s and 60’s here in New Zealand. They operated Skywagons, DH82, Percival EP9, and later C188 Fu24 etc. Turns out the aircraft was a C180 and the engineer was my uncle. This is how the story goes.

A crop duster, with many hours experience, delivered his C180 to maintenance at a base some 60 mile from his local area and picked up a temporary replacement aircraft, another C180. A few minutes after departing with the replacement aircraft he returned to the maintenance base and spoke with my uncle. The pilot said that something wasn’t right with the aircraft… it just didn’t “feel” right and asked my uncle to hop in and go up for a check ride with him. They got airborne and climb out then the pilot did some typical manoeuvres and some untypical ones, and all the while the pilot is saying things like, “see… can’t you feel it… it doesn’t sound right… there, as we went inverted you could hear it” etc etc however my uncle didn’t notice anything unusual other than the attitude of the aircraft which really had his attention so they returned to the field, dropped my uncle off, and the pilot departed for home with both men agreeing that perhaps the pilot was so used to his own aircraft that he spent 10-12 hours a day flying that the temporary aircraft just sounded and felt different and that was all they could put it down to.
Now the time between the departure from the maintenance base and the next event is sketchy but I think he said it was a day or two. The pilot was working out in the hill country some miles from his base and at the end of the days crop dusting headed for home. Fortunately he decided for no apparent reason to fly a little higher than the usual 200 feet he normally transited at when suddenly the C180 started to vibrate violently then almost immediately things got real quiet, the aircraft was inverted and relatively stable. It did not respond to normal control inputs so the pilot pulled on the only thing left to pull on that he hadn’t tried, the flap lever, and the aircraft flipped right side up then “fluttered” the last few feet to the ground. The pilot exited the C180 immediately to discover the engine was missing! It had departed down and out to the right, contacting the right wing strut and right main gear leg. The gear leg was bent horizontal from the impact. This very luck (or maybe unconsciously highly-skilled) pilot walked some distance to a local farm house and called the maintenance base. Clearly by the time he reached the farm house the shock had passed and he had time to think about what he was going to say to the maintenance base engineer. When my uncle got on the phone the pilot said “Hi… you know that plane I picked up the other day, well the damn engine is missing!”. My uncle said he immediately thought the obvious and said “I’ll send out one of the lads with a new set of plugs… just tell me where you are”!

Needless to say the full story followed and I’m told that three days later they flew the aircraft out of the paddock back to the maintenance base for a more thorough repairs!

Cheers
Wayne
 
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