The photo above of DCA's Piaggio P.166
VH-CAC was taken at Port Moresby, New Guinea, on 9 August 1968. The
aircraft (c/n 375) was registered new to DCA on 14 April 1961, Certificate
of Registration 3724, the third aircraft to carry this registration.
The previous two were a Lockheed Lodestar
and an Avro Anson. The Piaggio was
powered by two Lycoming GSO-480-B1C6 horizontally-opposed, supercharged,
six cylinder engines in an unusual pusher configuration.
below, from the aircraft's Italian Export Certificate of Airworthiness
(CofA), shows VH-CAC before delivery in Italy, in 1961. Interestingly,
the aircraft carries Australian DCA Flying
Unit logos on the nose and fin.
VH-CAC spent almost its entire DCA career in Papua New Guinea, being obtained
because spares and maintenance would be more readily available since the
same type was operated by local operators Mandated Airlines (MAL - later
Ansett/MAL) and Patair. It was used by DCA examiners and surveyors for
surveillance and liaison visits to operators and to provide transport
for management and specialist personnel to visit the many outstations
which ranged in altitude from sea level to high altitude inland stations.
A secondary task was Search and Rescue (SAR), for which its high-wing
configuration provided a good visual platform. It could also home aurally
on Emergency Locator Beacons (ELBs), the carriage of which became mandatory
during this period.
Departmental pilots were endorsed on VH-CAC, plus other aircraft, and
several appropriately licenced non-aircrew supervisors were also endorsed
on the aircraft to free up Departmental examiners from purely administrative
transport flying. The aircraft provided generally reliable and comfortable
service and, being little used in the highlands where a large proportion
of engine hours were at high power settings, did not suffer the same degree
of engine problems that gave its airlines sisters something of a reputation
amongst line pilots.
eminently suited the Beech 200 Super King Air which ultimately replaced
the Piaggio in government service there.
on the image at left to download VH-CAC's Italian Export CofA (1.1
MB .pdf file) The function of an Export CofA is for the competent
airworthiness authority to certify that an aircraft meets a specific airworthiness
standard before being exported to a foreign country.
The photo below shows VH-CAC on 5 September 1972 at DCA's base at Melbourne/Essendon, probably while awaiting disposal. VH-CAC was
sold to Executive Air Services, Essendon, and re-registered on 19 March
1973. It had various subsequent owners and was finally destroyed on 16 September 1982 at
Bankstown, NSW, when a student pilot deliberately crashed stolen Tobago VH-BXC on the aerodrome. Douglas DC-3 VH-SBO parked alongside the Piaggio was also wrecked.
The registration VH-CAC then passed
to a CAC Wirraway owner who had been waiting for it to become free.
1-Roger McDonald / 2-CAHS collection / 3-CAHS/Ben Dannecker collection)
Much of the information about the service of VH-CAC in New Guinea was
provided by Doug Macdonald, ex ATC Lae 1967-69, OIC/SATC
to Departmental aircraft index page
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