Dalby pi­lot flies into trou­ble on the job

Dalby Herald - - NEWS - Meg Gan­non Meg.Gan­[email protected]­by­her­ald.com.au

FOR pi­lot Dave Boland, the oc­ca­sional tech­ni­cal dif­fi­culty is part of the job.

But last week, the 78-year-old en­coun­tered an en­gine emer­gency that al­most ended trag­i­cally.

At 5am last Fri­day, Mr Boland took off to com­plete a job to­wards Ce­cil Plains.

Just over a minute af­ter take-off, Mr Boland’s plane be­gan to lose power rapidly.

“I got air­borne and as I turned... the en­gine lost a lot of power,” Mr Boland said.

Af­ter dump­ing the load of fer­tiliser from the Ayres-Thrush 600 he had no other choice than to land the plane as safely as he could see fit.

Mr Boland’s split-sec­ond de­ci­sion saved him from a dis­as­ter as he faced lim­ited choices about where to make the land­ing.

“I had roads on two sides... both had power lines over them,” Mr Boland said.

“There was a muddy pad­dock in front of me so I went for that and the plane just died be­fore I got there.”

Hit­ting a stand of trees on the way down, the pi­lot landed his plane a short dis­tance from a wall.

From the hangar in Dalby Aero­drome, Mr Boland’s son, Justin, watched the events un­fold.

“I had just loaded the air­craft and my son and I were stand­ing there watch­ing him take-off as we nor­mally do,” Mr Boland Jr said.

“We al­ways like to check that he’s in the air and off. He seemed to be drag­ging the load a bit and he just grad­u­ally sank.”

He watched as his fa­ther dumped the load and the air­craft dis­ap­peared into the trees.

“I didn’t re­ally see it do the land­ing be­cause it was cov­ered by the tree­line,” Mr Boland Jr said.

“I just heard the land­ing and the crash of the trees.”

Shortly af­ter land­ing, Mr Boland called his son to let him know he was safe and okay.

Mr Boland kept a level head through­out the ex­pe­ri­ence, not let­ting the stress of the morn­ing’s event get to him.

“You don’t have time to think, you’ve just got to act,” Mr Boland said.

“It doesn’t hap­pen all that of­ten but when it does you’ve got to do some­thing about it.”

Justin sped around to the Bunya High­way to col­lect his fa­ther and take him to hos­pi­tal, strug­gling against the low light of an early start and trees block­ing the plane from view.

In what could have been a fa­tal crash just be­fore Christ­mas, Mr Boland walked away with some stitches in one of his fingers.

Af­ter clear­ing drug and al­co­hol test­ing, a re­quire­ment af­ter any kind of emer­gency in­ci­dent, Mr Boland re­turned home.

It was busi­ness as usual for Mr Boland, who was look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing to work af­ter the crash.

“If I had any work to do I’d be do­ing it right now,” Mr Boland said on the af­ter­noon of the in­ci­dent.

“That sort of thing, it’s just one of the haz­ards you have to put up with. There’s noth­ing much else you can do about it,” he said.

❝ I sort of thought the worst... But when I heard his ring­tone com­ing I thought he’s as right as rain.

— Justin Boland

PHOTO: NI­COLE MCDOUGALL

EMER­GENCY LAND­ING: The pi­lot took off in his crop duster about 5am and was forced to land shortly af­ter.

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