April 2002




By Cliff Robinson


As noted previously, a projected move of this aircraft on 19th January was postponed when the height/available trailer combination became a difficulty. In consequence, a team of six visited Amberley on Saturday 2nd February to remove the rear section of the fuselage at a production joint. This was greatly assisted by W/O Dennis Doggett, who smoothed the way security wise and added his considerable expertise to the job. In case memory is short, this has been a hot summer, and Saturday was listed as 34 in the shade….what shade? The aircraft was located on bare ground in the "graveyard" two kilometres around the perimeter track. Consequently, the team of Nick Sayer, Cameron Elmes, Ian Daniels, Syd White, Mick Hinsbey and Cliff Robinson alternated deriveting two lines right around the fuselage, and guzzling large quantities of water, crawling into the oven of the tail, deriveting etc. and emerging to re-hydrate etc etc. We used "Austral" to lift the nose on to a stand in order to lower the tail, then she was backed under the tail ready to receive the removed section and to serve as a work platform. This proceeded as planned (with interruptions for water) with only one minor hiccup when we found the inevitable few rivets which had been overlooked. The rear 3 metres then separated gently and was secured to "Austral" for the trip to Caloundra. The nose was then lowered to the ground and the aircraft towed by "Austral" to a hardstand, so that it can be loaded on Thursday 8th, even if it rains in the meantime. The team was pleased to depart the site at 1530. Plans for moving the remainder of the aircraft were set in train a couple of weeks in advance. With all arrangements for the base, cranes and escort in hand the transport permit was held up because of blockages on the Gateway Arterial and the difficulties of getting a decision on an alternate route. The window of opportunity for use of the truck was lost and it was necessary to wait again. Why not use another truck? The usual reason - money! We had been offered the vehicle for cost only. The next few weeks were occupied in trying to set up another date and then contact with the transport was lost. When finally re-established it was found that the contractor had suffered a serious accident and was in hospital. Back to square one. Finally enquiries led to Suncoast Heavy Haulage who made a similar offer, and a date was set for Monday 29th April. The loading was planned for 1400. There followed a first for QAM recoveries. Both truck and crane arrived together, on time and at the right place. A quick trip to the site and the fuselage was loaded and secured as planned by 1630. Nothing has gone wrong - yet. Now, to park the load outside the base. Follow the guide …oops not a good route. Try this way ... gates too narrow. Try that way … can't make the turn. It begins to feel as though the truck might be left continually circling inside the Amberley fences unable to get out, rather like the Flying Dutchman. Nothing for it, the undercarriage has to come off. Now this undercarriage is not the flying type, this is a ground handling unit built like the proverbial tank. Enter some helpful RAAF personnel with a fork lift and by 2000 we are ready to try again with the legs stowed on the truck. This is not entirely straightforward if we are to avoid rearranging the guardhouse and front gates. Consequently we weave our way down the wrong side of the road dodging trees, signs, removing boom gate and performing R&R (remove and replace) on a traffic standard. Then with a total of 4 inches clearance on the front gate we exit to park outside and wait for the escorts at 0001. There is something about travelling down the road in the dead of night behind flashing police and escort lights, weaving around posts, first on one side then the other at speeds varying between 2 and 95 km/h. The only section that was really difficult was that through Brisbane. Kessels Road to the Gateway took one hour and gained our truck driver a certificate in tree trimming. Nevertheless, we arrived at Caloundra at 0430, the crane arrived at first light and the unloading was completed expeditiously. Our thanks to the loading team:

Ian Daniels
Cameron Elmes
Mick Hinsbey
Cliff Robinson
W/O Dennis Doggett
P/O Dale Boad
F/S Mark Royle
Queensland Police

and most particularly:

Sean Tenkate and driver Dennis Ladley of Suncoast Heavy Haulage who went far out of their way to help.