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OPERATING THE PRINCE

by Ted McKenzie

 

I joined Adastra after a drunken encounter with a Hudson crew at Broken Hill (Glassey, Wood et al). Initially I converted to the Prince from Bob Keeling at Port Lincoln in April 55. The crew took the aircraft back and I moved to Sydney by road getting my licence endorsed for the UK registered aircraft (G-AMLW) as I went through Melbourne.

Flew the Prince exclusively on surveys until 13 November 1956. Mag. surveys included Kiriwina Woodlark, Gulf of Carpentaria, Cloncurry, Winton, Broken Hill, Mt. Gambier, Adelaide, Whyalla. Leigh Creek. and Smithton. Crews J. Tierney, Al Palmer, Maurie Miller, Derek Middleton and Ken Stredwick. My log book shows a camera test in Jan. 56 and about 8 hours photo survey the same month. (memory is a bit short on this lot but it would have been low to medium altitude).

Memory says that a hole was cut in the aircraft floor near the toilet and control runs re-routed, design work by Newton Hotchkiss. I did a conversion to the Cat. in November and the Prince next flew in February 1957. In March I checked out Gordon Taylor, however he left the company shortly afterwards (some question about this) and in April I checked out Kenny Rowlands and started a survey at Ceduna.

I flew a test flight in the Prince registered VH AGF in Jan. 58 and in August survey in Tasmania with Mike, Kellaway, and Jim Hilferty. Ken Rowlands and I did an altitude flight to 20000 in Jan. 59 and shortly after that Ken Rowlands and Joe Tidey flew the aircraft back to the UK.

The Prince was a nice comfortable little aircraft, a bit short on load capacity. It had pneumatically operated flaps and landing gear that were very fast in operation. It is probably not much remembered that it was also fitted with reverse pitch, a bit ludicrous in such a small aircraft. Trouble was the pitch stops were hydraulically operated and not linked, so on occasion only one side worked. This had to be experienced only once to make the facility unpopular with whoever was flying the aircraft. The Prince was also a bit short on oil cooling, having been certified in Europe. We had an engine failure about 30 miles south of Cloncurry at 500 feet. After feathering and heading back towards Cloncurry it was necessary to unfeather and get a little power to climb to cooler air before the oil in the live one boiled.


Ted McKenzie
7th February 2003.