Significat aviation incidents in the Kimberley 1942-1971 - David Hough

When: 05:30pm - 19/06/2019

Location: Stirling House 49 Broadway Nedlands

Dr David Hough will present a paper on ‘Significant aviation incidents in the West Kimberley 1942-1971’.

Map of Kimberleys


Refreshments available from 5.30pm; Bookshop open until 6pm.

Robert Mitford Rowell was a Derby-based stock, station and shipping agent. During his time, from 1938 until the early 1970s, there were five aviation incidents in his district and he played a key role in four of them.


On 16 December 1938, a Vickers Wellesley Bomber made a forced landing at Walcott Inlet. On 16 December 1942, an MMA Lockheed Electra also made a forced landing, on Napier Downs Station. Another forced landing, a Mitchell Bomber this time, crash-landed in the Glenelg River on 28 October 1945. The only fatal crash occurred near Hawkstone Peak on 4 February 1956 when an MMA Anson, on a Flying Doctor mission, encountered a fierce electrical storm. Among the dead were Robert Rowell’s close friend and pastoral lease partner, Jack Rudduck, and his nine-month-old daughter Helen.
On Saturday morning, 31 July 1971, Robert Rowell’s youngest brother, Captain Harold Rowell, made an emergency landing at Fitzroy Crossing of an MMA Fokker F28 jet aircraft. He saved the lives of 56 passengers and protected the company’s reputation. In recognition of his accomplishment, he was vilified and suspended from flying.
This paper will outline these aviation incidents and the role played by Robert Rowell in four of them, and describe his brother Harold’s emergency landing.


Dr David Hough OAM has been a freelance historian for most of his professional life. His first full-length biography is A Man of His Time, the public life of Robert Mitford Rowell (2018). Since leaving Edith Cowan University at the end of 1999, David has written a centennial history of His Majesty’s Theatre, a history of Boans Department Store, and, with Patrick Cornish, an anthology of obituaries he contributed to The West Australian.

Event information: Significat aviation incidents in the Kimberley 1942-1971 - David Hough

Cost $5.00 at the door