Madang Airport 1973: Bruce O’Reilly

A PATAIR DC3, on charter to TAA, registration VH PNB, left Madang for Mendi on a government charter with building materials (no passengers) and on approach to land discovered it had no brakes and so returned to Madang. It had Tail Rudder steering but lost it when the tail wheel touched the runway on landing. It travelled along for a few hundred feet but eventually the camber of the runway took over and it ploughed into the salt water near the end of the runway.  For some reason the Captain raised the wheels and it sank into the mud. We tried to pull it out with our Grader and a crane but in the end I had to bring the Dozer in from Siar Coronus pit and finally after four hours pulled it out. It was parked up at the bottom of Madang airport and never flew again.

Over the next year or so PATAIR’s second DC3, VH PNA, also went U/S at Madang and it was also parked with its sister. They were slowly being wrecked and it was suggested that one could be placed near the Coastwatchers memorial in Madang.  As they were too wide to cross the narrow bridge to town I had the job of cutting them up with explosives and dumping the pieces in the local dump. Before this happened we contacted other centres but no one wanted them—how do you send a DC3?

Click here for pictures of the derelict DC3s, and their wrecking.

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