ON 2 MARCH 1944

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At approximately 1130 hours on 2 March 1944, pilot LAC Desmond Martin Alfred Ford (442339) was taxying Avro Anson AW680 along the tarmac at Mallala Airfield in front of the Flight Offices without an airman on each wing tip. After having taxied for a distance of 50 yards at excessive speed he allowed AW680 to collide with Flight Building No. 231. LAC Ford was injured.

LAC Ford had been authorised by F/O Clyde Wickham Harden (407865) to carry out a period of solo flying from 1030 hours to 1130 hours and on completion he was to taxy AW680 to the parking lines, making sure that, before entering the lines, he had sufficient brake pressure, and an airman was located on both wing tips to assist whilst taxying. At 1115 hours LAC Ford landed, cutting his solo flying period short due to an unserviceable fuel gauge. LAC Joseph Robert Clealand Cooper (80818) stopped LAC Ford from taxying into the lines and said that the aircraft was required in the Hangar area for an inspection. LAC Cooper asked LAC Ford to taxy the aircraft into the tarmac area where he would be met by airmen to take his wing tips. LAC Cooper also determined that the Trainee Pilot LAC Ford had sufficient brake pressure, and told him that if men did not arrive to take the wing tips, or if he considered that it was dangerous to taxy any further, he was to leave the aircraft where it was.

LAC Ford then taxyed Anson AW680 to the head of the tarmac and waited for airmen for about five minutes, but when none arrived he decided to taxy in further towards the hangars. He pulled up alongside the Tarmac Control building and tried to attract airmen's attention by opening and closing the throttle but without success.

So after approximately another five minutes he decided again that he would taxy further without airmen on the wing tips. He then proceeded along the tarmac in front of the Flight Office buildings without aid from airmen and after having taxied approximately 60 yards, the port mainplane of the aircraft struck the Time Keeper's Office attached to the front of "B" Flight Office (Building No. 231). He applied the brakes and pulled up and switched off fuel and switches. The port wing tip was slightly damaged.

LAC Ford had received explicit instructions about taxying in confined spaces, and in the vicinity of other aircraft and obstacles, from his Instructor just prior to his solo flight. On 28 February 1944, No. 44 Course was given an airmanship lecture by S/Ldr Lister, at which LAC Ford was present. S/Ldr Lister gave a lecture on taxying. He stressed the points about taxying in confined spaces and in the vicinity of objects, and also the need for having airmen on the wing tips when doing so.

He also pointed out to the Course that when they were solo in an aircraft they were in complete charge of it, and that they were not to accept orders from non-flying personnel or even from flying personnel as to where they should taxy if they considered it at all dangerous and that they were not capable of carrying it out. It was also stressed to them that they were to do only what their Instructor had authorised them to carry out.


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This page first produced 20 January 2015

This page last updated 02 February 2020