It is widely reported that a Connair Heron survived Cyclone Tracy by being “flown” on the ground at Darwin during the winds on 24 December 1974. The following research was undertaken in an attempt to identify the Heron involved.
On 28 June 2001, I spoke to David "Freddo" Fredricksen in Alice Springs. He was the pilot who used a Heron radio to establish first contact with the outside world after Cyclone Tracy. He confirmd that the aeroplane was VH-CLT .He called (as Charlie Lima Tango) to Katherine Aeradio who enquired: "Where are you" to which he replied: "On the ground Darwin". After the cyclone, even the radio at the Navy base was out of action and Mr Fredricksen claimed that there was a "queue" of people waiting to use CLT's radio (Police, Emergency Services etc).
Also on 28 June 2001, I spoke to Ian "Nammo" Badman in Darwin and he confirmed that it was VH-CLT which survived Cyclone Tracy. He knew that VH-CLX carried his nickname “Nammo” but he did not know why. He describes the events as follows:
The aircraft was inside a hangar with its tail into the wind as he was unable to turn it into wind. The controls were locked internally and externally. The brakes were set and all three wheels were chocked. The tail was anchored to a tug. There was evidence that the aeroplane had moved during the cyclone. He confirmed that the engines were NOT running, claiming that this story is an "embellishment" of the facts.
On 30 June 2001, I spoke to Greg Foot who was an engineer with Airlines of Tasmania. He believed that it was VH-CLX which had survived Cyclone Tracy and that the name "Nammo" was applied to VH-CLX on the instructions of Dave McKenzie (then chief engineer with Airlines of Tasmania) to commemorate the event.
On 2 July 2001, I spoke to Dave McKenzie who was aware that “Nammo” had saved a Heron during Cyclone Tracy but he could not recall why the name had been applied to VH-CLX.
On 16 July 2001, Graham Malcolm of the Moorabbin Air Museum confirmed that VH‑CLX still carried the name "Nammo".
After being withdrawn from service by Airlines of Tasmania, the fuselage of VH-CLT was taken to the hills west of Woodbury where it was used as a hunting lodge. It is believed to be still there at the time of writing.
(Compiled by Ron Cuskelly on 2 June 2009 from notes taken on the dates shown above)