how a seemingly innocuous remark in a log book can prompt recollections
of an interesting story. Peter Shute's log book records that he
flew from Roper River Bar to Katherine and return on Hudson VH-AGS
on 29th April 1970. The remarks column against this flight states
simply "Parachute drop". This was presumed to relate
to a routine supply drop to a remote survey party or suchlike
but the subsequent "interview" with Peter revealed that
the flight was anything but routine. Said "parachute drop"
turned out to be a case of a crew member choosing to depart a
perfectly serviceable aeroplane!
Peter Cowan, a navigator with Adastra, was a keen skydiver who
routinely carried his parachute with him on survey trips. What
the pilots thought of this is not recorded! Anyway, it must have
dawned on the intrepid skydiver that he had never jumped from
a Hudson, so during April 1970, one of several trips between Roper
River Bar and Katherine (probably for fuel and supplies) presented
a suitable opportunity as Peter Cowan was then based at Katherine
on another aircraft. After landing at Katherine, the door was
removed and stowed in the cabin. The Hudson then climbed over
the local drop zone where Peter departed the aeroplane in a head-first
dive, having expressed concerns about striking the tail. After
he was seen to land safely, the Hudson returned to Roper River
Bar where the cabin door would have been refitted.
were made to this anecdote after further input from Peter Shute
on 30th September 2003).