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21st of January 1974

An Indonesian Douglas C-47A-85-DL (DC-3 PK-GDC - MSN 20041) was operating an international charter flight for the Burmah Oil Company with 12 passengers and 4 crew. They had departed Broome Airport and were heading for East Timor.

The aircraft being lifted off the grass runway at Broome Airport (©Geoff Goodall.)

Exact details are not available but according to newspaper sources (known not to be the most reliable, with regards to aviation incidents) and some collaborating info on the internet, the aircraft developed trouble in one of its Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 radial engines, approximately 30 minutes after departure from Broome. A diversion was initiated to Derby, which is located ~170 km Nort-East of Broome. Due to bad weather (Thunderstorms) they were unable to land and Derby so they decided to return single-engine to Broome. Du to the weather and the fact they were flying single-engine they could not climb and flew (supposedly) low level under the clouds.

The actual landing configuration of the aircraft is unclear. Some sources state that a single-engine belly landing on the grass runway at Broom was made. While another source reports the gear collapsing on landing at Broom. What is sure is that the weather at Broome very bad, with reports varying from very heavy rain to monsoon. The landing was successful to the extent that non of the occupants was injured. The aircraft however received serious damage and was abandoned by the operator. The damage as reported and deducted from the picture at the beginning of this blog might not be accurate but at least the following damage can be seen or is listed;

  • Both propellers separated

  • Right-hand wing leading edge damaged

  • Lower fuselage damaged

  • Landing gear, torn off, collapsed (or not selected down

  • Right-hand engine heavily damaged / partly missing

The aircraft as tourist office in Broome in 1977 (©Geoff Goodall.)

In 1977 the aircraft was cosmetically repaired and painted in an Ansett colour scheme and the fake registration VN-BME and was used as a tourist office on the entrance to the town of Broome.

The aircraft had started its active career in 1946 when it was taken on by the US Army Air Force. Via the Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL). In 1947 it started its civil life with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in the Dutch East Indies.

The full history of the aircraft can be found by clicking here.

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