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as told to Ron Cuskelly by Peter Shute


It's strange how a seemingly innocuous remark in a log book can prompt recollections of an interesting story. Peter Shute's log book records that he flew from Roper River Bar to Katherine and return on Hudson VH-AGS on 29th April 1970. The remarks column against this flight states simply "Parachute drop". This was presumed to relate to a routine supply drop to a remote survey party or suchlike but the subsequent "interview" with Peter revealed that the flight was anything but routine. Said "parachute drop" turned out to be a case of a crew member choosing to depart a perfectly serviceable aeroplane!

Peter Cowan, a navigator with Adastra, was a keen skydiver who routinely carried his parachute with him on survey trips. What the pilots thought of this is not recorded! Anyway, it must have dawned on the intrepid skydiver that he had never jumped from a Hudson, so during April 1970, one of several trips between Roper River Bar and Katherine (probably for fuel and supplies) presented a suitable opportunity as Peter Cowan was then based at Katherine on another aircraft. After landing at Katherine, the door was removed and stowed in the cabin. The Hudson then climbed over the local drop zone where Peter departed the aeroplane in a head-first dive, having expressed concerns about striking the tail. After he was seen to land safely, the Hudson returned to Roper River Bar where the cabin door would have been refitted.

(Several corrections were made to this anecdote after further input from Peter Shute on 30th September 2003).


If you wish to contribute your experiences, please contact Ron