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THE PERILS OF TRANSPORTATION

Col Booth says Richard Jones would hitch a ride in his little Hillman to Dem lessons each Thursday. “Forcing my way through traffic sometimes brought a less than jovial response from the driver on my left, just outside the passengers door,” says Col. “Dick used to slink down in the seat to disguise his true size and exchange verbals with the unsuspecting driver. Then, if we had to stop at traffic lights, he’d sit up, even get out of the car, and have a more frank discussion about the ancestry of the poor motorist.” Interesting sociology this. Clearly, back in the early sixties, Richard was demonstrating an early form of the road rage that has developed into such a huge social problem today.

Richard Jones contradicts my belief that he alone is blame for creating the global phenomenon of road rage. “A tiny little precursor, perhaps,” is the most he’ll admit about his ASOPA habit of monstering other road users from the passenger seat of a Hillman. “Col Booth was the driver and the blame must be sheeted home to the person navigating the vehicle through traffic,” says Richard.

Marie Burns was the only woman in our year to have her own car, according to Henry Bodman. “Marie was at Spit Junction before the rest of us got away,” says Hen. “She had a very determined position at the wheel indicating she’d brook no one in front of her”.

Val Rivers recalls a trip to Victoria with Marie Burns. “We were night driving in terrible fog. The only way to see was to drive on the white line in the middle of the road. We kept it visible in the centre of the windscreen. Mile after mile”.

At ASOPA, Moose Davis had a green ‘55 Morris Minor that totally outperformed Kurt Argent’s clapped out ‘47 Morris Ten. Moose would sweat on Dave’s departure up the ASOPA hill each evening and take delight in passing him, chuckling as he sped by. This finally got the better of Dave and he headed out to the Parramatta Road and bought a ‘58 Morris 1000 that took the beep-beep out of Moose for the next 18 months.

Henry Bodman, visiting Les Lyons on Bougainville, took a bubble helicopter flight over the mine and down to one of Les's community fishing projects. “My sphincter twitched very badly as I was invited to occupy the ‘outside seat’ of this gnat, with my feet dangling into space. I found it difficult to concentrate on filming, particularly as I had one arm around Les’s neck with the certain intent of taking him with me if I were to drop”.

The strip at Karkar island, Wendy (Bignall) Booth tells me, was like many in the Territory - do or die. “The ex-MAF pilot practiced aerobatics and intensified his tricks when he had a young female beside him. I concluded that, having worked with the mission, he had real faith about where he would end up. I wasn’t so certain, however, that I was saintly enough to join him”.

Bill Bergen’s four kids were all born at Vunapope mission near Rabaul. The family was later stationed at Sohano. “It was a beautiful but difficult place,” says Bill. “Helen, our eldest, travelled by ferry to school on Buka. The ferry was licensed for 15 but I saw 68 get off it one afternoon. Helen fell off the ferry as she was negotiating the other boats tied up at the wharf. She was swept away by the Buka Passage tide and it was only a quick thinking high school boy who jumped in and saved her”.

Val Rivers recalls travelling from Kavieng to Finschhafen on the New Britain ‘milk run’ when one of the motors on the DC3 failed while the aircraft was coming in to land. The pilot’s succinct comment was, “Lucky it didn’t happen on take off”.

Col Booth writes: “On Karkar in ‘72, a group of us chartered a TAL Cessna to look inside the crater of Karkar’s active volcano. After flying up to the peak, with the stall warning beeping continuously, the pilot neatly popped over the rim and started flying in a tight circle inside the crater. The only problem was that, flying with such steeply angled wings, he couldn’t derive sufficient lift to get back over the rim. In desperation, he eventually managed to navigate a kind of figure of eight pattern and flew at an almost 90 degree tilt through the only gap in the crater rim. He confided to us later that he never wanted to find himself in that situation again.”