boy and his saviour
One was a six-year-old
boy, the other a C-130 pilot. Fate brought them together in 1974
and again 20 years later, reports CPL Simone Liebelt.
FLGOFF Jack Fanderlinden
Squadron Leader Martin Copland joined the Air Force, he couldnt
have imagined he would one day meet the man who had flown him
to safety after Cyclone Tracy.
The young pilots CO at No. 32 Squadron in 1994 was Jack
Fanderlinden who, as a junior captain, flew the second Hercules
We were just discussing Hercs, and it came up that Id
taken my first Herc flight when I was six so he asked me to tell
him about it, SQNLDR Copland said. When I told him
about the flight he said he was the captain and I couldnt
believe it. We were both pretty amazed by it, definitely.
AIRCDRE (retd) Fanderlinden, a Flying Officer with No. 37
Squadron at the time of Tracy, recalled descending into a black
hole at RAAF Base Darwin as the runway lights and navigation aids
were knocked out.
We were within a couple hundred feet of the ground and were
at the point of flying away to divert to another airfield when
I saw a rotating yellow beacon [which used to sit on top of the
old RAAF combies], he said.
As it turned out, they had cleared a small part of the runway
and when they heard us coming, got on to the runway and put their
beacon on to give us a sign that it was safe to land. If there
was any doubt, we would have not landed that night.
SQNLDR Coplands most vivid memory of the natural disaster
is finding his bedroom door leaning up against one of the house
posts and his school bag still hanging on the back of the door.
Thats all we ever found of my room, he said.
He also remembered how strange it was to experience the eye of
the storm. ... it was the eeriest thing, because it was
at night in the city, so you would usually get lots of noise and
light, but there was no power and it was pitch dark because there
was no light; there were no stars because it was overcast; there
was no wind because it was the centre of the storm, and all the
animals had been blown away, so you couldnt hear any of
the usual night noises like geckos and bats.
After a few days at a shelter, SQNLDR Copland, his three-year-old
brother and mother were evacuated to Sydney on the Herc piloted
by Jack Fanderlinden, while his father stayed to assist with the
SQNLDR Coplands parents took a holiday in Tasmania two weeks
after the cyclone. While there, the Tasman Bridge collapsed after
being hit by a bulk carrier, killing 12 people and cutting Hobart
Cyclone Tracys aftermath, the Air Forces transport
squadrons worked tirelessly to bring in supplies and evacuate
residents from Dec 26, 1974, to Jan 4, 1975.