View Full Version : TAA DC9 Hijack Captain passes away
16th Apr 2012, 10:54
From todays online Australian Aviation: I thought some of the former TAA people would be interested:
Captain Grahame Mackelmann, the Captain of TAA DC-9 VH-TJJ which was involved in an attempted hijacking by an armed passenger on a Coolangatta-Brisbane flight in June 1979, passed away on April 11.
“Grahame will be sorely missed by those of us who had the privilege to know and work with him,” says former colleague and AA contributor Doug Macdonald.
Capt Mackelmann and flight attendant Esme Qazim were awarded the Star of Courage, the nation’s second highest civilian gallantry award, for their roles in the hijack incident.
After a considerable crew effort the aircraft was averted from being plunged into the Brisbane CBD, landing safely at Brisbane airport, where Capt Mackelmann rapidly discharged the passengers onto the grass at the end of the runway allowing them to escape the hijacker.
Capt Mackelmann’s son Craig was killed in May 1986 when his RAAF Mirage crashed off the NSW coast in controversial circumstances.
He is survived by his wife Grace and daughter Anne.
17th Apr 2012, 00:21
Condolences to Grahame's family. Must have had great presence of mind and courage to have discharged pax onto grass end of runway to help elude the hijacker after that harrowing inflight experience of avoiding the plunge onto the CBD. Lookd like no breakfast at Breakfast Creek for that nut.
Must have been a pretty short flight...OOL to BNE? I guess there was no subway trains then.
17th Apr 2012, 08:17
Knew the guy that checked him on :ok:
Years later he got heaps as he was reminded of the hijackers release date, and he'd come looking for him
kinteafrokunta... what do you mean "then"?
17th Apr 2012, 12:07
Grahame placed his head so he could take the full force of the bullet, and hoped his F/O would still be able to keep control of the aircraft after his demise. He often said waiting for that bullet, seemed like years. A good man, a excellent pilot, and a good mate. Vale mate, that aircrew bar is getting crowded.
17th Apr 2012, 12:28
"Knew the guy that checked him on"
Wasen't a guy called LLoydy by any chance?
The Tn Man
19th Apr 2012, 04:01
I remember Grahame when he use to come through Rocky back in the 70`s ,he was a gentleman and a true professional ,I have come across a lot of Crew and at times someone stands out and you never forget them,Grahame was one of those chaps.
19th Apr 2012, 04:17
I can not find much in Google, anyone got any links of info of this incident?
DC9, YBCG to YBBN. Jet fuel must have been cheap back then !!!!:ok:
19th Apr 2012, 08:08
Diddly, it was a s#@<hidden> of a flight. Bearing in mind most of us had come off pistons, we were not used to arriving before we left. The 9 was a very busy aircraft, and a fifteen minute flight, had two blokes working like one legged tap dancers. How Grahame managed to get her down with a gun to his head, I have no idea. Knowing Grahame, he would have followed procedure to the last dotted i, even though he knew his life could end at any minute. Really amazing when you think about it. I guess training just kicks in, and after thinking about it you might even get comfort from doing something that is routine and necessary.
19th Apr 2012, 08:46
Didn't East West do Gold Coast-Brisbane-Maroochydore in the F-28?
19th Apr 2012, 10:06
Shame he never got the closure he was after regarding the fate of Craig. From what I know of the incident, mainly as a peripheral participant, I doubt he would ever have gotten satisfaction. The real culprit there IMHO, was appalling supervision.
19th Apr 2012, 12:15
I am pretty sure it did Station, but it was no pocket rocket like the 9. I have seen blokes get off drenched after that flight, it certainly brought you up to speed, you could not afford to get behind the aircraft not for a second. It was dreaded by F/Os with bum fluff, and gave many a skipper indigestion.
19th Apr 2012, 19:18
And the memories come flooding back.......
Brisbane 1988........I was on a St Patrick's day pub crawl with some ATC chums, when a certain Irishman, leaning against the bar and ear-wigging the conversation, decides to introduce himself.
Proving for at least the second time in his life his appalling lack of good judgement, he smiles and introduces himself as said hijacker - just out of prison.
Claimed he did it just because he was annoyed over child custody arrangements with his ex.
Strangely, he thought I would be pleased to meet him......:yuk:
19th Apr 2012, 22:20
Capt. Kremin, Grahame never got closure, he was grief stricken, like any father who has to bury their child, but he never recovered, not even remotely because he could never accept the explanation why his boy died off Stockton Beach. He talked about it incessantly, and we would all listen and despair that none of us could help him. He now has peace at last.
20th Apr 2012, 14:15
Stationair - yep the EW74 went HBA DPO SYD OOL BNE CNS daily.
Crews were as busy as 2 on speed in bed on the OOL BNE sector. No different to the DPO WNY sector on the old TN990 and AN854?? early morning sector. The DPO HBA on the EW75 was also fairly "active" but one of the prettiest flights you could ever do from the flight deck view an sundown.
I had the honour of meeting Grahame in my tenure at TN and found him a lovely bloke and send my sympathy and that of my ex TN mates still here in DPO to his family. They would no doubt have worked with him while on F27s before he went to the 2 holers. They will be advised of the saddening news.
21st Apr 2012, 00:24
Wow, brings back old memories, I was there at BNE working that night, though with the other mob.
Condolences to his Family, a real Hero.
22nd Apr 2012, 21:50
Here here to what you said TG.
Kremin, your humble opinion stinks, unless of course, you were there on the morning at 77Sqn when he died....
23rd Apr 2012, 01:47
The real culprit there IMHO, was appalling supervision.
I was around at the time and agree with Kremin. Those boys had a massive night on the grog before that flight....the culture of the time – fly hard, play harder. Although it was analysed that Craig's BAL was at zero when he started work, he would very likely have been flying hungover – that is a supervision issue: no flying should have been scheduled after a mess social function where a drinking-fest is inevitable (the witness statements confirmed a lot was drunk).
However, we will never know if it was a contributing factor – there are many, many possible causes of this accident. Shite happens in fighter operations. The investigators look for lessons learned and move on. In this case, there was too little evidence to determine cause, so the investigation wound up fairly quickly. Grahame's tenacity was the result of an intensely proud man who wanted nothing less than to prove his son was not to blame in any way (and indeed be honoured) but it was an impossible quest because of the lack of evidence.
Grahame's strength of character and tenacity to honour the memory of his son will be remembered.