Alan Leek with Richard de Crespigny at the Settler’s Arms, St. Alban’s
Alan with Richard de Crespigny at the Settler’s Arms, St. Alban’s.

On 4th July at a gathering of former Qantas executives at the Settler’s Arms Hotel at St. Alban’s, (c.1836) near Wiseman’s Ferry, I was warmly welcomed to discuss Frederick Whirlpool VC. The occasion was to mark US Independence Day as many of those gathered had served in North America. The group is known as ‘The Rorters’, which has an interesting history, too involved to go into here and too dangerous to reveal for some of its more colourful members. I was considered degenerate enough to be accepted as a member, after my talk.

I had the pleasant opportunity of meeting with Captain Richard de Crespigny who flies for Qantas and who miraculously saved his aircraft, crew and passengers from disaster when Flight QF32 – an Airbus A380 he captained was bravely and skilfully flown to safety. The flight had left Changi Airport on 4 November, 2010 and soon after, its number 2 engine exploded, shattering and sending hundreds of pieces of shrapnel into the wing and fuselage, creating chaos as vital flight systems and back-ups were destroyed or degraded.

In other hands, the plane might have been lost with all 469 people on board, but a supremely experienced flight crew, led by Captain de Crespigny, managed to land the crippled aircraft and safely disembark the passengers after hours of nerve-racking effort.

Richard wrote about the ordeal in his book called simply, QF32 – Macmillan by Pan Macmillan Australia, Pty Ltd., Sydney. A great read! And where better to read it than the wonderful Settler’s Arms with all the ambience 183 years can provide. Great food, wine and accommodation in a fabulous part of the world. Ask any Rorter! Our host, fellow Rorter and author, Ian Burns-Woods, will hopefully be in print again soon with his autobiography. Something to look forward to!

Rorter and author, Jim Eames, sent his apologies as he was en-route to the States via Albania – a mystery yet to be resolved. Jim has written extensively about Qantas (Allen & Unwin) and very kindly assisted me with publishing advice before I was taken up by Big Sky Publishing, Sydney and Pen & Sword UK & USA.