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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 27104
Last updated: 25 December 2019
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Type:de Havilland DH.84 Dragon
Owner/operator:Mandated Airlines Ltd
Registration: VH-AKX
C/n / msn: DHA.2061
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Turnagain Island, Torres Strait, off Queensland coast -   Australia
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Daru, Papua New Guinea (AYDU)
Destination airport:Horn Island, Queensland (YHID)
Built as A34-72 (c/no. DHA.2061) Delivered 8/4/43 to RAAF. Sold 15/2/46 and allocated registration VH-APK 11/3/1946. Sold on and became VH-AKX to Mandated Airlines Ltd, Lae, PNG, on 24/3/1947. On 11/5/1948, VH-AKX departed Lae, Papua New Guinea, on a ferry flight to Sydney for the aircraft to undergo annual inspection, overhaul, and C of A renewal.

On 12/5/1948, departed Daru for Horn Island. Halfway across Torres Strait pilot (John W Spiers) encountered a severe rain storm and turned back to Daru. At low level over sea pilot saw a small low mudflat island, so made a forced landing there, wrecking the Dragon. No radio on the aircraft, so Spiers waited to be found. CH-AKX crashed at Turnagain Island, off Queensland, Australia at approximate Co-ordinates: 9.567S, 142.283E.

(Turnagain Island, also called Buru Island, is located in the northern section of Torres Strait, about 38.4 km off the south coast of Papua New Guinea's Western Province).

A search was made by a Mandated Airlines C-47, with pilots Brian Carpenter and Tom Deegan, searching as far south as the Australian Gulf country for 3 days. When returning to Daru from Horn Island, they spotted VH-AKX on the mudflats of Turnagain Island, with Spiers sitting on the roof of the aircraft. He had been unable to find food, and at high tide the island was mostly under water, so he stayed in the cabin of the Dragon, while the sea gradually broke up the aircraft for 6 days without food, surviving by drinking rainwater.

A RAAF Catalina from Port Moresby landed off Turnagain Island, which sent a crew member ashore in a rubber dinghy to collect John Spiers. A storm blew up, so the Catalina returned to Port Moresby, leaving the two men on the island. They were later rescued by a pearling lugger, sent from Thursday Island

The pilot was John W. Spiers, an ex-R.A.F. WWII Lancaster pilot. He had previously flew with Guinea Air Traders (from March 1947). He joined Mandated later in 1947, and became a captain on DH-84s, He resigned later in 1948 to fly with QANTAS in New Guinea. He was killed in the crash of QANTAS DHA-3 Drover VH-EBQ at Lae, PNG, on 16/7/1951

Registration VH-AKX was belatedly cancelled by DCA on 17/5/1951



Revision history:

27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
31-Dec-2011 10:43 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Total occupants, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
23-Mar-2014 23:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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