Royal Australian Air Force

 

Ferry Flights   Downsview, Canada to Australia

Updated December 31, 2020  (new data in Red)

 

Flight 1    A4-134 - A4-140 - A4-147
 Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada on March 17, 1964 to Gander (Newfoundland)  1986km - Lajes (Portugal)  2403km - Gibraltar 2036km  - Luqa (Malta) 1777km - El Adem (Libya) 353km - Khartourm (Sudan) 2615km - Aden (Yeman) 1691km  - El Masirah (Oman) 1687km - Karachi (Pakistan) 982km - Calcutta (India) 2187km - Butterworth (Malaysia) 2307km  - Djakarta (Indonesia) 1475km  - Darwin 2721km - Alice Springs 1290km - Richmond Air Base 1976km arrived on April 22, 1964. Total time just inder 97 hours.

NOTES: A4-147 suffered a failure of its long range fuel tank and had it replaced in Fredricton, Canada. A4-134 sustaining a generator failure in Aden, Yeman. All three aircraft spent a week in Butterworth, Malaysia for schedule 100 hour "D" services.

Crews: Wng Cdr T.S. Fairbairn, Flt Lt J.N. Bellamy, Flt Lt J. Bevan, Flg Off J. McQueen, Pilot Off J.E. Lidner, Pilot Off G.A. Martin. Flt Lt T.M. Gilroy (Navigator), Plt Off R.M. Bertram (Navigator), Plt Off W. Hall (Navigator).

Flight 2    A4-152 - A4-159 - A4-164
 Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada on May 8, 1964 to Gander (Newfoundland)  1986km - Departed on May11th for Lajes (Portugal)  2403km - Gibraltar 2036km  - Luqa (Malta) 1777km - El Adem (Libya) 353km - Aden (Yeman) 1691km  -  Karachi (Pakistan) 2,680km (10.45 hrs) - Calcutta (India) 2187km - Butterworth (Malaysia) 2307km  - Djakarta (Indonesia) 1475km  - Darwin 2721km - Alice Springs 1290km - Richmond Air Base 1976km arrived on June 13, 1964.

NOTES: In Gander had to change a prop/IOC on one of the aircraft because of an oil leak. This change was carried out during a snowstrom (interesting for sunburnt Aussies).

Departed Gander on May 11th for Lajes and promptly got lost. The navigator on A4-164
made his corrections based on the southern hemisphere so they were heading north east instead of east. After about three hours flying in lousy condiitions with failed heaters and much ice, co-pilot realised the mistake and corrected course and landed in Lajes (Portugal) without trouble.

In Aden (Yeman) had to change another prop/IOC because of oil leaks and drop a long-tange ferry bladder from A4-164 due to leaks. Replacement parts and tooling got lost and ended up spending 13 days in Aden as guest of the RAF.

After Darwin, Australia A4-152 and A4-159 flew to Richmond AB. A4-164 short one ferry tank flew Darwin to Charleville, Australia 2,234km refueled and on to Richmond AB 705km arrived June 13th after a 36 day, 14 leg, 100 hours ferry time.


Flight 3    A4-171 - A4-179 - A4-185
 Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada on July 1, 1964 to Kap Karvel (Greenland) 2969km - Reykavik (Iceland) 1239km - Londonderry (Ireland) 1304km - Monaco 1639km  - Luqa (Malta) 1051km - Tobruk (Libya) 974km - Khartourm (Sudan) 2615km - Aden (Yeman) 1691km  - El Masirah (Oman) 1687km - Karachi (Pakistan) 982km - Calcutta (India) 2187km - Butterworth (Malaysia) 2307km.

NOTES: Flight stopped at Butterworth (Malaysia) diverted to Vung Tau (South Vietnam) 918km  arrived August 8, 1964. Crews: A4-171 Flt Lt Bevan, Plt Off Geraghty, Plt Off Bertram, LAC Bates, LAC Woods. A4-179 Flg Off May. Plt Off Marsh, Flt Lt Glover, LAC Williams. A4-185 Flt Lt Cooper, Plt Off Baggett, Flt Lt Montgomery, LAC Rose.

Flight 4    A4-173 - A4-191 - A4-193
 Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada in August, 1964 to Kap Karvel (Greenland) 2969km - Reykavik (Iceland) 1239km - Londonderry (Ireland) 1304km - Monaco 1639km  - Luqa (Malta) 1051km - Tobruk (Libya) 974km - Khartourm (Sudan) 2615km - Aden (Yeman) 1691km  - El Masirah (Oman) 1687km - Karachi (Pakistan) 982km - Calcutta (India) 2187km - Butterworth (Malaysia) 2307km - Vung Tau (South Vietnam) 2411km. Arrived August 29, 1964

Flight 5    A4-195 - A4-199 - A4-202
 Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada in September, 1964 and used the Atlantic route (no flight data) arrived at Richmond AB in October, 1964.

Flight 6    A4-204 - A4-208 - A4-210
 Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada in November, 1964 and used the Atlantic route (no flight data) arrived at Richmond AB in December, 1964.

Flight 7    A4-225- A4-228 - A4-231
Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada on June 11, 1965 to Ellsworth AFB (Rapid City, South Dakota, USA) 1897km - Alameda Naval Air Station (Alameda, Californis, USA) 1739km - Hickam Air Force Base,
Hawaii 3877km - Canton Island (Kiribati) 3075km - Nadi (Fiji) 2048km - Norfolk Island (A) 1584km - Richmond Air Base (Australia) 1710km arrived June 25, 1965.

Flight 8    A4-233 - A4-234 - A4-235 - A4-236
Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada on August 6, 1965 to Ellsworth AFB (Rapid City, South Dakota, USA) 1897km - Alameda Naval Air Station (Alameda, Californis, USA) 1739km - Hickam Air Force Base,
Hawaii 3877km - Canton Island (Kiribati) 3075km - Nadi (Fiji) 2048km - Richmond Air Base (Australia)
3,183km (14.4 hrs) arrived August 21, 1965. 15,942km 64 hours and 40 minutes. 
NOTES: Great story by Brian one of  the Loadmaster/Engineer.

O
n landing at Ellsworth we were met by a USAF member in white overalls. Turned out he was someone we Loadmasters had got to know in Vietnam. He showed us a good time that night.

On landing in Alameda a post flight inspection showed the dreaded IOC oil leak had struck again on my aircraft (A4-236). This was the first problem of this kind I had experienced since my first ferry flight over a year and 1000hrs flying previous. Both were new out of deHavilland. I grounded the aircraft and a new prop/IOC was ordered. Five days latter we were still waiting as Hamilton Standard were on strike.

During this five days we had run and test flew the aircraft but could not duplicate the problem. Most of us had been on either one of the first two ferry flights and completed a tour in Vietnam. We were looking to go home. Our CO asked the other three Loadmasters/Engineers what they thought and they all said they would fly on with it as is. At this, the CO advised, as we (my complete crew) would not fly it, he would swap aircraft. At this point you get a bit silly about someone taking your aircraft so I said if he would sign the aircraft up as serviceable I would go. The rest of my crew advised “if he will fly, so will we”. Off we flew to Hickam. Post flight inspection again showed an oil leak. After topping up the oil, we again ground run the engine for some time and test flew it but could not replicate the oil leak. Again the CO signed the aircraft up as serviceable. Some would say we were slow learners and this proved to be true.

We left Hickam at 0555hrs on the 16th Aug. About six hours into the flight I was in the left seat acting as George (the autopilot) when an orange warning light came on. The port IOC oil warning light. This was the first time it had indicated an issue and as it had not illuminated previously, the leak must be getting much worse. The pilot jumped in the seat and asked what I thought our options were. It was highly likely that we would run out of oil before we made landfall and loose control of the prop. Not looking forward to ditching with a runaway engine,I advised shutting down.

This he done and pushed the starboard engine up to max power. Due to the ferry fuel, we were still well above our max all up weight. From our cruise altitude of 9000ft, we were loosing altitude at 200ft/min.

The decision had to be made to either turn back or go on to Canton. We had just passed the point of no return but at least we knew with help from Hickam, we could find land but it was further. The RDF needle indicated where we thought Canton was but could not get the audible confirmation tone. As we were reasonably confident of where Canton was, the decision was made to continue on. A PAN was called but no one seemed interested. We were still loosing altitude so a Mayday was called. Every one now wanted to talk to us. Hickam scrambled a Coast Guard C130 to chase us. When we finally landed on Canton some seven hours latter, he was just 20mins behind us and simply turned around and went home..

 As we were burning more fuel on one engine than two, dumping the ferry fue was not an option. We were finally able to hold altitude and slowly back off the power at 5000ft. The engine temps eased back from the red lines. An RAAF C130 flew past at altitude on the way to Hickam. It was carrying personnel and equipment for a RAAF  Neptune anti submarine aircraft that was on the way over for exercises. Due to his load he was unable to loiter and help with pinpointing our exact location. There was an uninhabited island with a wartime strip on it about 300km off our port but unless we knew exactly where we were, finding it would be unlikely.

 Next came the Neptune. He offered sympathy and kept going to. Miserable sod. If anyone could have helped, surly he could have. Any way, after another seven hours we landed on Canton. A RAAF C130 bought in a new prop and after a three day delay we flew on to Nandi then Richmond. We landed on the 21st Aug after a 15 day 66.00hr 6 leg ferry.

 Five years later I was appointed as an instructor on ground operations at 1 BFTS (Basic Flying Training School) Point Cook. At the first passing out party I attended, I happened to be talking with a navigator who was re-training as a pilot. He had been on Neptunes so I mentioned my experience over the Pacific. Small world, he was the navigator on that aircraft. He told me the captain was carpeted for not offering assistance. Given my rank at the time I was never told. As you can imagine, our ferry CO was also spoken to.




Flight 9    A4-264
Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada on June 7, 1968. To (St. Hubert, Canada) 564km (2 hrs. 15 min.) - Departed June 8, 1968 for Ellsworth AFB (Rapid City, South Dakota, USA) 2343km (10 hrs. 50 min.) Departed June 9, 1968 for Moffett Naval Air Station (Santa Clara County, Californis, USA) 1744km (8 hrs. 20 min.) - Departed on June 11, 1968 for Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii 3877km (16 hrs. 15min.) Departed Jine 13, 1968 for Midway Island (USA) 2,681km (8 hre 5 min) - Departed on June 14, 1968 for Wake Island (USA) 1901km (7 hrs. 40 min) - Departed on June 15, 1968 for Agana (Guam) 2,417km (8 hrs 10 min.) - Departed June 17, 1968 for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea) 2,557km (10 hrs. 05 min.) Departed June 18, 1968 for Richmond Air Base (Australia) 3,161km (11 hrs. 20 min.)  arrived June 18, 1968.

Notes: Wing Commander Norm Geschke, Flt LT Fred Heuke, FLt LT Al Field, Stewart Bonnett Loadmaster/Engineer.

 Flight 10     A4-275
Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada on August 2, 1969 to Ellsworth AFB (Rapid City, South Dakota, USA) 1897km (9hrs. 30 min.) - Departed on August 3, 1969 for Moffett Naval Air Station (Santa Clara County, Californis, USA) 1744km (8 hrs. 5 min.) - Departed on August 5, 1969 for Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii 3877km (16 hrs. 25min.) - Departed August 7, 1969 for Johnston Atoll Island Air Force Base 2680km (5hrs. 20 min.) - Departed August 8, 1969 for Bucholz Army Airfield (Kwajalein Island) 1,321 7km (9 hrs. 5 min.) - Departed August 11, 1969 for Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) 3,041km (11 hrs. 10 min) - Departed August 13, 1969 for Richmond Air Base (Australia) 3,161km (10 hrs. 30 min.)  arrived August 13, 1969.

NOTES: Crew: Flt Lt Martin Newman (Captain), Flt Off Bob Winckel (Co-pilot), Flt Lt Ron Ewing (Navigator), Sgt John McDougall (Loasmaster/Engineer)

Post flight de-brief - Recommended no further flights across the Pacific be undertaken. Due to the ferry weight of the aircraft with no alternate airfields in case of emergencies (ie Moffett to Hickam). Aircraft above normal max take-off weight of the aircraft for the first eight (8) hours of flight. Not good if you lose an engine halfway.
                                              Caribou No. 27 for RAAF

The RAAF took delivery of its 27th Caribou transport during a recently held hand-over ceremony at the deHavilland Canada plant aDownsview. The aircraft was accepted by the Australian Air Attache in Washington,  Air Commodore L. H. Williamson who is pictured right with (L-R) Sgt. J. W. McDougall, FL. Lt. .R. P. Ewing, FL. Lt. J. R. Newman (Captain of the aircraft for the ferry flight) and FO R. C. Winckel.
 
The wooden carving of the Caribou is for the No. 38 Sq. (right)  DHC president W. B. Boggs, who recently visited Australia, is senn handing the log book to Air Commodore L. H. Williamson. 

Thanks to John McDougall for this article.     



Flight 11    A4-285
Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada on December 1, 1969 used the Atlantic route (no flight data) arrived at Richmond AB in December 25, 1969.

Notes: Crew Wing Commander Kichenside (Captain), Co-pilot ?, Flt Lt Ron Ewing (Navigator), Sgt. Allen Fraser (Loadmaster/Engineer)


Flight 12    A4-299
Departed the deHavilland facility in Downsview, Canada on June, 1971 and used the Atlantic route (no flight data) arrived at Richmond AB  arrived June, 1971.

Notes: Crew Captain & Co-pilot?, Flt Ron Ewing (navigator), Sgt Barry Sharman (Loadmaster/Engineer)



Returing Caribous from Vietnam

Flight 13    A4-140 - A4-159 - A4-191
Departed Vung Tau (South Vietnam) on June 1, 1971 for Richmond Air Base, arrived date and route unknown.


Flight 14    A4-173 - A4-179 - A4-208 - A4-234
Departed Vung Tau (South Vietnam) on February 19, 1972 to Singapore Tengah Air Base 1,106 km - Jakarta (Indonesia)  km - 904km - Bali (Indonesia) 953km - Kupang (Indonesia) (fuel stop) 945km - Darwin (Australia) 830km - Mt. Isa (fuel stop) 1,302km - Longreach 576km - Richmond Air Base 1,296km, arrived February 26, 1972.  Total kms 7,883, flight time 36 hours and 20 minutes.

Notes: CO Sqdn Ldr C. D. Smithies led formation
.


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