WITNESSES TELL OF AIR DISASTER "Popping Noises" Before Amana Crash Evidence that he heard "popping noises" coming from a large plane, which had passed over his home in Bellevue on the night that the Australian National Airways flagship, Amana, crashed near York with the loss of 29 lives, was given by a witness at the Air Court of Inquiry yesterday.
The witness was Joseph Charles Goodchild, who said that before going to bed he heard the aircraft flying over his home. It was making a lot of noise and as it flew towards the Darling Ranges, he said, it did not sound quite normal. "Intermingled with the usual roar of the engines," Good child told the Court, "there seemed to be popping noises. It was like the noise that a Tiger Moth makes when its engine has been cut off in the air." The evidence was given before Mr. Justice W. B. Simpson, who, with the assistance of two assessors, Mr. D. B. Hudson, a Qantas Empire Airways aero nautical engineer, and Capt. J. W. Bennett, a British Common wealth Pacific Airlines pilot, is conducting the inquiry. Throughout yesterday morning and early afternoon five aero drome attendants employed by the Vacuum Oil Co. told of the refuelling of the Amana on the night of the crash and also of tests for water and other con tamination which had been made in the fuel storage tanks at the company's depot and on the pet rol tanker. Demonstration Clarence Able Harper, one of the employees, demonstrated to the Court, with two metal con tainers and two milk bottles how he made the tests for water in the fuel. He poured some green, 100-octane aviation fuel into one bottle with the help of the Court orderly. Water was then poured in to show how it immediately sank to the bottom. He then ran the petrol off into one of the metal containers, leaving the water still in the bottom of the bottle. Cross-examined by Mr. H. Win necke, K.C. (for the Department of Civil Aviation), witness said that three water checks had to be made daily-at 4 a.m., about 10 a.m. and about 6.30 p.m. When he refuelled some smaller planes during the afternoon, he said, he took petrol from only one of the four compartments in the tanker. To fuel the Amana, however, he opened the petrol cocks inside so that all the compartments were connected to a common delivery pipe. Mr. G. Pape (for Australian National Airways): What chance would there have been of water being put into the tanks of the Amana at that filling. Witness: I should say it would have been an utter impossibility. Petrol Test In reply to Mr. Justice Simp son, witness said that a standard practice had been handed down to him as to how the petrol was to be distributed through the tanks if the normal amount of 2,000 Imperial gallons was taken on. Before any petrol tanker was loaded in the morning the underground storage tanks were tested for water or any other impurity. Small quantities on rare occasions had been found, he said. Before the petrol passed from the tanker into the air craft it went through a water trap, an air extractor and through wire meshes. Mr. R. I. Ainslie (for the Vac uum Oil Co.): Do you know whether this is the most up-to- date system? Witness:- I would say it is. It is quite new. Mervyn Stanley White, of Can ning-highway, South Perth, Ced ric Arthur Mather, of Kew-street, Kewdale, Melville James Tang ney, of Mt. Lawley, and Ray mond Cecil Knight, of Rome road, Melville, the other attend ants, also gave evidence concern ing the refuelling of the Amana and the tests that were carried out. In reply to Mr. Justice Simp. son, White said that in the three years he had been on the job he had never found any water in the petrol. No Burning James Chalmers Hood, a Gov ernment analyst, said that an examination of blood from the pilot of the aircraft, Capt. Chap pell, showed a negative alcohol result. He also examined the uniform and underclothing which had be longed to Chappell. There was nothing to show that it had been subjected to burning or scorch ing. There were no traces on the clothing of corrosive substances which would indicate that it had been affected by an explosion. There were no impurities in a bottle of 100-octane petrol which he also examined. He suggested, in reply to Mr. Pape, that the condition of the clothing indicated that the wearer was thrown out ahead of any fire which broke out. Raymond David Dyson, of Flinders street, Mt. Hawthorn, an aerodrome controller employed by the Department of Civil Avia
tion, said that the Amana took off at 9.55 p.m. on June 26. It had to travel 2,400ft. along the runway before it took off. It was a normal take-off and climb, he said, and the engines appeared to be normal. The Amana headed out towards Perth, made a 180deg. turn and passed back over the aerodrome at 2,000ft. When it was over head he received a message from the plane that the course was being set. Witness then said that he cleared the plane to the aeradio fre quency. Explosion Seen Frank Edwards, of Glen-road, Darlington, a communications officer, said that the Amana called on 325 kilocycles to test its aeradio equipment, which was found to be quite in order. Later the plane called to say that it was ascending to 9,000ft. At 10.29 p.m., he said, Gordon Santo Crimp (senior area Con troller at Guildford) asked him to call the Amana. As he was about to put the call over the Trans-Australia Airlines (Govern ment) pilot asked whether aeradio had heard from the Amana. At 10.34 p.m. the T.A.A. pilot said the reason he asked aeradio to call the A.N.A. plane was be cause he had seen a brilliant ex plosion and had passed over a spot where a fire was burning. The inquiry was adjourned until 10 a.m. today. Mr. L. D. Beaton. R.C., is ap pearing with Mr. B. Simpson for the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor: Mr. Winnecke and Mr. J. Leckie. for the Department of Civil Avia tion; Mr. R. Holmes for the widow of Mr. Stanley Ernest Baker and his employers, Ampol Petroleum Ltd.: Mr. F. T. P. Burt for the Australian Air Pilots' Association: Mr. P. W. Miller for the Profes sional Officers' Association; Mr. L. T. McGowan for the Professional Radio Employees' Institute; and Mr. K. J. Brown for the Civil Air Operations Officers' Association.