RAAF No.2 Aircraft Depot

Vampire MK35

 A79-601

15th August 1957

RAAF Richmond
Flying Officer Gavin Michael "(Bluey) " Collins

 

During the afternoon of 15th August 1957, 31 year old Flying Officer Gavin Michael Collins of the RAAF was flying a Vampire MK35 A79-601belonging to No.2 Aircraft Depot based at RAAF Richmond as part of an acceptance testing delivery from de Havilland. He tut the plane into a spin at 30,000 feet but was unable to recover

The aircraft entered an uncontrolled spin and at 5000 feet Flying Officer Collins thought it wise to eject. He jettisoned the canopy because of condensation fogging vision then initiated the ejection procedure by pulling on the face blind.

He lost consciousness from the power of the ejection. Regained consciousness when the parachute sharply deployed abruptly arresting his fall. Problems increased with the parachute panels detaching. The parachute was stitched to the back of the flying suit and was giving way. Collins was unable to steer the chute and was trying to oscillate towards a road. Fortunately landed between trees.

The ejection took place in Clear weather in 50 knot wind over Castlereagh Forest, an area of Flat bushland.


Flying Officer Gavin Michael "(Bluey) " Collins

His daughter Ann takes up the story, (Dad) "Collected the parachute and walked to the road. Saw two men, with a truck, stopped at the side of the road. They were investigating the jettisoned canopy. They loaded the canopy, Dad and his parachute on the back of the truck and returned him to the Base at knock-off time. Dad recalls that this was a source of amusement to his mates."

The plane was found the next day by two young boys. They were treated to a tour of the base.

Throughout his career with the RAAF Gavin Collins only had to eject once. He did however have near escapes involving crashes in a Wirraway, Meteor and Canberra.

Although no immediate injuries were sustained apart from some minor bruises in his ejection, descent and landing he has had arthritis of the spine and hips for the last 30 years.

 

I am indebted to Gavin Collins RAAF (retd) and his daughter Ann for providing details and photos of the events of 15th August 1957