“Shakey the Pilot”

Bush Yarn from helicopter mustering pilot, Russell Carrington of “Planet Downs”

“I had a pretty wild ride once on a flight from Mt. Isa to Gregory in a light aircraft. Passengers were Dennis Bauer and myself, Paul Langridge (a ringer at Planet) and Wray Finlay (an old Drover bloke and local identity) and the Pilot at the controls was known as Shakey.Anyway the Aircraft was a Cessna 210 which has a retractable undercarriage and no wing struts. It was straight after the Mt. Isa rodeo and big rain had closed all the roads and blocked us everywhere so it was a case of take the top road. Wray and I were sitting in the second row of seats behind Dennis and the Pilot with Paul behind us surrounded by a bag of spuds. Wray was a very nervous flier I remember and he was very concerned with the movement of the wings, the aircraft being a 210 with no wing struts for strength and stability and then when Shakey lit up a smoke I thought poor Wray would have a fit. Anyway the strips over at the Gregory station and the main one out towards McAdams creek were wet and out being boggy so Shakey decides we will land in front of the pub on the road towards the south between the pub and the old police station. So Shakey lines her up and down we go, all eyeing the strip with trepidation. As he started to tell flight service he couldn’t land some other clown gets on the radio and says, “You can do it Shakey”. So we continued our approach and landed once, twice, three times a bit too far down the selected landing strip. So there we are still continuing past the pub at a great rate of knots heading towards the grid. Shakey is on the brakes something fierce as Wray and I peer out each window watching the smoke come off the brakes.Well being a retractable undercarriage aircraft it had pretty small wheels and didn’t they bump and shudder going across that grid. We staggered to a halt on the other side of the grid and after Shakey shut her down we dismounted. That was it for Wray, he was off for the pub.!! The rest of us gave Shakey a hand to turn the thing around and also proceeded to the pub as well after the aircraft had taxied back over the grid and to the pub. I reckon Wray had downed about 3 straight Scotch’s by the time we caught up to him!!”

Gregory Hotel – watercolour by Bob Pelchen

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