Thursday, September 14, 2006

New England Australia Aviation - Don Shand

Photo: East West Airlines' DC3 lands at Port Macquarie

I really wanted to find a photo of Don Shand to illustrate this story. I could not.

Born in Sydney in 1904, Don Shand founded East West Airlines in 1947. The company had meant to fly east west between Moree and Grafton, but low traffic densities shifted the focus to north south between New England centres and Sydney.

Don was a remarkable man who deserves many posts. I thought that I would share some personal stories.

While I had heard many stories about Don, I first remember really remember him on a DC3 flight from Sydney to Armidale.

We had just come back from Bangkok. I knew something special was happening as we joined the plane because the crew were running round, holding us at the door. They removed a seat, allowing this very large man to occupy a full row. When I asked my mother who this was, she said Don Shand.

She told me the story of the time she was sick in Armidale Hospital. Her room overlooked the nearby park. She saw great activity with men stringing telephone wire towards the hospital. She asked the nurse what was happening. The nurse explained that Don was in hospital following a mild heart attack. Unable to get access to a phone for his international calls, there was no connection in his ward, Don had immediately ordered men in to install a new phone line to the hospital.

This from Uncle Ron.

Don had just married for the second time and had taken to wearing just a pajama top to bed. A fox had been attacking the hens, Don wanted to get it, so stood a loaded shot gun by the bed.

That night there was great commotion from the chook yard. Don jumped out of bed, grabbed the gun and rushed out the front door, calling his dog as he did so.

It was a bright moonlit night. Don saw the fox, propped, raised the gun to his shoulder. As he did so his dog, running behind and unable to stop, rammed his wet nose up Don's bare backside, causing Don to fire both barrels. The fox escaped, but there was awful damage done to the chooks!

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