On 23 October 1949, a 21-year-old pilot ran into trouble over Homebush when the engine of his Tiger Moth cut out. On a training flight from Bankstown Aerodrome, with the Truscott Flying Club, William Fraser searched desperately for a place to land.

From 1,500 feet he spotted the recreation grounds of the Arnott’s biscuit factory near Parramatta Road and made that his goal. On his second attempt he just cleared the high-tension wires but the wind caught the Moth, hurling it into a tall sewage vent, snapping one wing.

The plane hit a small iron footbridge over Powells Creek before plunging into the stormwater canal below. Somehow Fraser climbed out of the debris with only a small cut to his upper lip.

Truth 23 October 1949 p.3  https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/168961695

As The Sun newspapers reported:

Had the plane been 15ft higher when it hit the steel pipe it would have crashed into the side of the factory.

The incident was just one of several accidents suffered by pilots from the Truscott Flying Club during 1949 alone. In April another Tiger Moth had crashed into Sydney Harbour. The pilot and his passenger were rescued by three boys in a boat. Truscott Flying Club, named after WWII flying Ace, ‘Bluey’ Truscott, who was killed during WWII, was short-lived and had been sold by December 1950.

Coincidentally, the aerial photographer Milton Kent[ photographed Homebush in the same year. Using the details reported in the newspaper articles, it is possible to locate the position of Fraser’s crash. Have a closer look at the photos below.

The Sun (Sydney) 22 October 1949 p.1 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/229229621

This cropped version of a Milton Kent aerial image from 1949 shows a dry canal, with the bridge and sewer vent in the centre, next to the recreation grounds and tennis court – and very close to the Arnott’s building.

It is clear from this cropped photo just how close the Tiger Moth came to crashing into one of the Arnott’s buildings.

Today a small, disused bridge stands in almost exactly the same position over Powells Creek as the bridge damaged by Fraser’s Tiger Moth in 1949. New playground equipment has been installed nearby in Ismay Reserve, which now occupies the site of the former Arnott’s recreation grounds, in the shadow of the M4.

Strathfield Local Studies


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

We moderate ALL comments. Please do not be concerned if your comment does not show up immediately. Please do not hit the "Post Comment" button multiple times. Thank you.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *