Hawker de Havilland Australia. Delivered 30-Dec-1964.
• VH-IDX (1) Regd and Canx 02-Feb-1965. Paper exercise.
• VH-MLB Lukey Miller Aerial Service Pty. Ltd., Mentone, Melbourne, VIC. Regd 02-Feb-1965.
• VH-MLB Lukey-Miller-Moulden Aerial Services Pty Ltd., Derrinallum, VIC. Regd 02-Feb-1972.
• VH-MLB Farm Air Pty., Ltd., (Division of McInnes Central Airways), Maylands, Perth, WA. Dates unknown.
• VH-MLB Western Aerial Crop Spraying & Spreading Services, Derrinallum, VIC. Struck off 13-Feb-1973.
Damaged: At Dundonnell, Victoria. 13-Feb-1973. Report by Peter Reardon.
The aircraft was struck by the loader, or the loader stuck the aircraft, and severely damaged the fin and rudder. It is suspected that the aircraft pilot (who was known to me) was a bit ‘heavy handed’ and swung the aircraft too late to clear the loading bucket). Consequently, the aircraft would have collided with the loader bucket it seems. The damage was such that the aircraft could not be flown and was transported back to Aerial Agriculture’s hangar at Bankstown for major repairs and rebuild. It did not fly again for just over two years.
• VH-MLB Aerial Agriculture Pty., Ltd., Sydney (Bankstown), NSW. Regd 18-Oct-1973. Re-regd 18-Oct-1973. Struck off again 05-Feb-1975 as W.f.u. and re-Regd 19-Apr-1977.
Accident: Near Captain’s Flat, NSW. 06-Dec-1979. Aircraft written off. Pilot Len Tesoriero sustained fatal injuries
Anecdotal report of the above accident by Peter Reardon via Geoffrey Goodall who researched on behalf of the pilot’s cousin. It is known that the pilot’s Grandfather and Grandmother were amongst the very first Italian migrants to arrive in Australia in Sydney in 1947. They arrived after a miserable trip from Rome in Warren Penney’s Lockheed Hudson VH-ASV, as part of the Migrant Charter.
The Beaver aircraft was returned to agricultural topdressing operations with Aerial Agriculture P/L., of Bankstown. On 06-Dec-1979, it was written off in a fatal accident, near Captain's Flat, N.S.W. The pilot was Len Tesoriero.
It seems that the aircraft was working and part-way through an agricultural procedure turn, pulling probably 2G+ as normal, when the fin attachment bolts failed. The investigation concluded that apparently the fin and rudder had rolled through about 90 degrees and rested (horizontally) on the tailplane and elevator. The pilot would have been immediately deprived of vertical and directional control at that instant. Being at low altitude, there would have been no means of recovering, even if some vertical control could have been achieved. The wreckage was beyond economic repair and the aircraft was written off at that time. However, the investigation did lead to fleet-wide inspection of all fin attachment bolts and some worn/cracked bolts were revealed. An Airworthiness Directive was immediately issued and all the DHC-2 Beavers were grounded until the inspections and bolt replacements had been completed. While the Beaver was built as a rugged bush aircraft, it was subjected to repeated overload operations from rough agricultural airstrips and subjected to high aerodynamic G forces in every day of agricultural operations.
While it is very sad that Len was the one to lose his life in this way, his accident investigation undoubtedly saved the lives of many other Beaver topdressing pilots – mine included. I never knew Len, or the history of his accident, but there for the grace of God it could have been me as I flew Beavers on such topdressing operations for many years – before and after Len’s tragic accident.