Had a few days off duty in Macau in 1946 .I think this plane was one of the first Dc 3 s enjoyed the new book
Extract from Syd’s Last Pirate by Captain Charles ‘Chic’ Eather
The month of January 1947 brought the Company a landing accident at Macau. At the beginning of January 1947 Lisbon and London were still considering Cathay Pacific’s application to start a Hong Kong/Macao service. In the interim they were permitted to begin operations as a non-scheduled carrier using C47 Dakotas. Proving flights had determined that the limited length of the grass field required a precise final approach speed. An official reception was planned for the inaugural flight on 5 January 1947. The local dignitaries, in the trappings of their Macau office, assembled at the end of a red carpet, to watch Niki as the aircraft had been christened, make her approach. Pinky Wawn assisted by co-pilot Syd de Kantzow had the approach speed captured precisely to the knot. Another of the Cathay partners standing between them got a bit “toey” at the flat approach. He stood it until his nerve failed and with a phrase that expressed an interesting action, scuttled back into the cabin. His rapid retreat upset the delicate balance of the precisely flown plane and the extended wheels clipped the retaining wall of the reservoir. At that time the field lay just beyond the retaining wall of the Reservatorio de Aqua, the water supply of the enclave. The strike folded back the undercarriage and Niki’s propellors tore out great divots of earth and grass. The now out of control Niki slid on her belly and stopped with the cabin door lined up with the red carpet. The door opened and a thoroughly sheepish crew stepped down. Under the impression that this was part of the show the band’s trumpet section heralded the occasion and the spectators went wild. The crew lined up before the welcoming committee and its spokesman delivered his congratulatory address as though nothing untoward had happened. Here was savoir-faire at its blindest!
Naturally, Cathay Pacific was upset with the loss of earning capacity of its plush aeroplane, as was the crew for causing the damage. However, it was a blessing in disguise for it clearly showed the C47 Dakotas did not suit that small field. Fortunately, the accident did not have an adverse effect on the future grant of the Macau operating rights and led to the introduction of the amphibious Catalina flying boat services that used the harbour instead of landing on the ground.
Niki was repaired and flew again.
Hi Devid Many thanks for detail of crash I got the date wrong but it was along time ago!! .I did contact Cathy they would not say it was the first .The new book arrived for Chrismas Very good you have done a fine job.
Thanks Ken, lucky for us you caught this on film back in 1947!
Thanks to IDJ as well, for explaining the story behind the scene.
Glad to hear you've enjoyed the latest Gwulo book,
VR-HDA was Cathay Pacific's second DC-3 but first of the company's aircraft to appear in the local aviation register. One explanation given after the accident was that the mishap was caused by a strong downdraught.
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