Dalby pilot flies into trouble on the job
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
EMERGENCY LANDING: The pilot took off in his crop duster about 5am and was forced to land shortly after.