EVENT: Friends of the Library
|Friends of the Library : Lead Kindly Light - Harold Rowell’s Emergency Landing at Fitzroy Crossing, 31 July 1971
Harold Rowell was an experienced pilot with MacRobertson Miller Airlines (MMA). He had served as a pilot in the Second World War and joined MMA as a commercial pilot in 1948. The introduction of jet aircraft to service the Pilbara and the North West in the 1970s meant that many of the gravel airstrips, suited to propeller-driven aircraft, were unacceptable for the new jets.
Harold Rowell, who knew the Kimberley like the back of his hand, was forced to land a jet aircraft, in the dark, on the gravel strip at Fitzroy Crossing, when Derby airport was closed to fog. Instead of being hailed as a hero for preserving the company’s safety record and saving the lives of 53 passengers, he was stood down, and pilloried by his employer and the Department of Civil Aviation.
In 2017, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots commissioned the Harold Rowell Award for outstanding airmanship.
Dr Hough has contributed entries to the Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate, the Australian Dictionary of Biography and The New Grove Dictionary od Opera. His first full-length biography, A Man of His Time: the public life of Robert Mitford Rowell, will be launched in November. A Dream of Passion: the centennial history of His Majesty’s Theatre (2004) was shortlisted for the WA Premier’s History Prize, and his Boans for Service: the story of a department store 1895-1986 (2009) was a best-seller.
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