April 1993



The recovery party comprised Basil Bryant and Hank Haarhuis. Why did we choose BB & HH? Their publicists would have us believe that it must be BB & HH when when only only the the best best will will do do! Apart from thanking said BB & HH for a most professional operation, we must also thank Alan Graham who did a lot of advance legwork arranging accommodation and transportation as well as enlisting the aid of Col Whyte and Terry Scanlan of Cairns Aircraft Maintenance whose assistance was outstanding and invaluable. We also thank Qantas/Australian for providing transportation to Cairns and back for BB & HH. Although our initial request to Qantas for sponsorship was in writing, all subsequent negotiations were handled over the telephone in a most expeditious manner. It is most gratifying to know that we can call on "The Airline Queensland Gave the World" and that Qantas appreciates what we are trying to achieve. We record our thanks to Paul Boyce, Max Ellerman and Sue Harvey at Qantas/Australian. We also thank Brambles who have been right behind us since day one. Such is Brambles' generosity to QAM that we can't really claim to be a good customer of theirs but we do have a close association which goes back more than twenty years. Brambles have always been there when we needed them with a thoroughly professional job at a fair price. Thanks again Brambles! What follows is the diary of the Aztec recovery compiled by Basil Bryant:


Day 1 - Monday 19 April
Weather showery and windy. Arrived at Col Whyte's hangar at 0745. Introduced ourselves and accepted Col's offer of a tug and his assistance to tow the Aztec some 500m to his hangar. We then proceeded to remove both engine cowls and wing tips. Disconnected hydraulic lines, engine oil lines, electrical wiring, carburettor control cables, fuel lines and exhaust manifolds. Props and carburettors were removed. We attempted to remove the bolts securing the tailplane only to find that they were seized. After the application of much CRC and with the help of Col Whyte and one of his staff we eventually got them off. It took two to hold one elevator from moving while the other two twisted and tugged on the other elevator. Thus ended day one and the hangar closed at 1700.

Day 2 - Tuesday 20 April 0745-1700
Weather showery and windy. Removed seats, side panels, carpets and various floor panels. This was necessary to gain access to fuel lines, oil lines, wiring and control cables etc under the floor at the wing roots. Removed CO2 bottle and housing. Loaded nose compartment with weights to balance removal of engines. With the use of Col's Abbey hydraulic crane, both engines were removed. Various wing fillet panels were removed to gain access to the wing bolts after removal of fuel selector controls. Thus ended day two. It was decided to leave the aeroplane outside as it was about to become immobile and would therefore obstruct the hangar.

Day 3 - Wednesday 21 April 0745-1700
Weather showery and windy. We borrowed two wing jacks from Col and jacked the aircraft. Two steel stands (also borrowed from Col) were placed under the fuselage. The starboard outer wing was supported on a stand while we took the weight of the port wing with a sling on the Abbey crane. The leading and trailing edge bolts on the port wing were removed as were the upper and lower bolts where the wing joins at the centreline (about 30 bolts). We were then able to shake the port wing loose and remove it. The starboard wing was removed in similar fashion. All three undercarriage legs were retracted and secured. Thus ended day three.

Day 4 - Thursday 22 April 0800-1530
Weather showery and windy. Courtesy call to Brambles Cairns depot to check on transport arrangements. Called on Beaurepaires to collect old tyres for packing. These were transported to the airport in Col's utility. Called on Perri McGrath at Cairns Port Authority to advise aircraft would be removed on Friday. Back to the airport to load the cabin with everything we could cramb in. The weather had improved during the afternoon and Col invited us on a flight in his Cessna 172 out to the reef over Green Island and down the coast and back again. A very pleasant interlude indeed. Back in the hangar again, while sipping on a cold beer, we discovered that Col had done quite a bit of maintenance on our "Pig" when Comalco owned it and flew it regularly between Cairns and Weipa.

Day 5 - Friday 23 April 0800-1630
Secured all loose components in the cabin while waiting for crane and truck to arrive. Both arrived promptly at 1030. Loading was completed by noon but tying down and packing under wings and between wings and fuselage was not completed until 1500. The truck driver was well equipped with mattresses, carpeting and foam sheets. We were confident that nothing was going to be damaged on the trip down. The truck departed at 1510, the end of day five.

Day 6 - Saturday 24 April 0430-1800
Out of bed at 0430 to be at the airport by 0515 to make sure we were first in line for allocation of standby seats. We were lucky and departed Cairns at 0600 through rain and low cloud. Arrived Brisbane at 0800. We were picked up by car and arrived at Caloundra at 0940. At 1630 on Saturday, the Brambles driver phoned to say that he would be at the Museum by 1730. We had suggested before that he leave his trailer in our yard over the long weekend and we would unload it early Tuesday morning 27 April. This arrangement suited him and he departed "bob tail" at approximately 1800. It has not gone unnoticed that this very businesslike, no nonsense account makes no reference to activities outside working hours. What then did we find hidden away amongst the expense claims from the Cairns trip but a BAR BILL! A bar bill for some four dollars no less! Such indulgence! Word of this has spread amongst participants in past recoveries who have been seen stamping around with miniature cumulo nimbus clouds over their heads, kicking small animals and muttering words unintelligible. Unintelligible that is except for one word common to all - "retrospective". Could be trouble.