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The day a B-17 landed in Sandgate, 1942 p1

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Sandgate was a still a quiet seaside town in 1942, although officially it was a suburb of Brisbane. A Boeing B–17, or Flying Fortress, brought some excitement when it made an emergency landing on the outskirts of Sandgate, near the old Hornibrook Highway Bridge.

The story is told in RAAF Sandgate, At the Mouth of the Pine, a 16-page A4 publication compiled by W.O.J. Kielly for the Sandgate Historical Society and Museum, Inc. 

The RAAF Sandgate station ran from 1940 to 1944. It trained recruits for military life, including courses in maths, aerodynamics and navigation. Then they were equipped and deployed to various scenes of war.  

The B–17 landed at around four in the afternoon on 18th April, 1942, adjacent to the RAAF Sandgate training base, at the mouth of the Pine River. Newspaper reports said the plane was lost and running low on fuel. The pilot skillfully landed on reclaimed land, on a too short landing strip.  

One eyewitness, Lorna Ferguson (Nee Gillingham), a scholar living adjacent to the base, gave her account of the incident for the 1990 book, RAAF Sandgate, At the Mouth of the PIne. She said it was wet weather at the time when the “biggest thing we had ever seen in our skies” came over the Station. The pilot “wiggled his wings when those present waved a towel at him”. The plane circled the area several times, then came in over the reclaimed land with his wings down. After a dummy run, “this time the plane landed. As it did so the wheels began to sink into the wet clay and the plane lurched over to one side and ground looped.” One wing had dug into the clay. Propellors were bent. The crew got out and dived for a nearby ditch. Several yelled out that there were bombs on board. 

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