Post by carolbaxter on Mar 9, 2020 12:45:51 GMT 12
I'm an author and cruise ship speaker looking for information about the 1978 drama when an American pilot, James Edward (Jay) Prochnow, was flying a Cessna 188 AgWagon across the Pacific and his automatic direction finder failed as he neared Norfolk Island. An Air New Zealand DC-10 under the command of Gordon Vette was sent out in search of him and managed, incredibly enough, to find him. I'm interested in finding good quality photographs of Captain Gordon Vette, the first officer Arthur Dovey, and the Flight Engineer, Gordon Brooks (who died in the Mount Erebus disaster). I'm also wondering how I might access any Air New Zealand or general aviation reports on the incident. I'm preparing a cruise ship talk and like to make sure that I have all the facts right.
The DC 10 was not 'sent out to search" for the Cessna but was on a scheduled flight. Indeed the Arthur Dovey referred to is (was?) the operator of the Yak. There's another, Malcolm (Mal ) Forsyth a former Navigator also on the crew.
Post by johnnyfalcon on Mar 25, 2020 15:09:23 GMT 12
I understood that the DC-10 entered a holding type pattern while the crew dumped fuel, threw all its lights on, and engaged the passengers as spotters, and that they never actually "found" the Agwagon, but through clever use of relative sun position navigation (and use of one's pinkies on the instrument coaming), enough information was established to enable the 188 pilot to find Norfolk Island - just (on fumes?).
Edit. Just read the above link which generally corroborates my recollection
For quick reference I quote this event (as recorded within my article) as follows ....
On December 22nd 1978 AIR NEW ZEALAND DC-10 ZK-NZS, operating flight TE103 between Nandi and Auckland, under the command of captain Gordon VETTE with F/O Arthur DOVEY and F/E Gordon BROOKS, played a major role in one of the most incredible mercy missions ever undertaken in civil aviation history .... when a CESSNA 108 aircraft, being ferried from Pago Pago to Australia, via Norfolk Island, piloted by Jay PROCHNOW (an ex-USN pilot), suffered an ADF failure en-route and became lost over the South Pacific Ocean. Being unable to establish his precise location the pilot of the CESSNA declared an emergency, to Auckland ATC, but, the only possible assistance within the vicinity of the lost aircraft was the AIR NEW ZEALAND DC-10 flight. Appreciating the desperation of the ferry pilots situation, further complicated by the approaching dusk, and likelihood of the CESSNA having to ditch into the ocean with little chance of its pilots survival, the DC-10 crew volunteered to intervene. The AIR NEW ZEALAND crew eventually made successful VHF radio contact with the lost aircraft .... and .... after a series of navigational calculations (including an Aural Boxing technique) followed by precise sunset observations, then comparing the variation between these observations from both aircraft positions, the CESSNA's location was approximated .... aided by the lights of the PENROD oil rig that were later sighted by the lost aircraft and which was, at the time, being towed from Auckland to Singapore. Having determined the oil rigs precise position the crew of the DC-10 were then able to provide a magnetic steer directly toward Norfolk Island (without ever having sighted the stricken aircraft), where the CESSNA eventually landed safely after having been airborne for some 23 hours. The DC-10 continued on to Auckland where it arrived hours later than its scheduled arrival time .... its crew being hailed as heroes by the international media. In recognition of this accomplishment captain Gordon VETTE was later nominated for, and received, both the JOHNSON MEMORIAL AWARD (issued by THE GUILD OF AIR PILOTS & NAVIGATORS) and the PRESIDENTS AWARD (issued by McDONNELL-DOUGLAS). The story of this event was later dramatized (but factually distorted/over-exaggerated) by a US made movie entitled "MERCY MISSION - THE RESCUE OF FLIGHT 771" .... starring Scott BAKULA and Robert LOGGIA.
Mark C AKL/NZ
I know you think you understand what you thought I said but what you thought you heard is not what I meant !