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Richard de Crespigny | by CB 357
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Richard de Crespigny

Richard is #16 in my 100 Strangers project

 

I've long had a love affair with airplanes, and I was a doing a photoshoot at an historic plane museum ( ... a 50s Nose Art/Pin Up themed shoot) when I had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to a rather famous Qantas captain, Richard de Crespigny

 

I naturally introduced myself, and luckily enough had my camera, plus the odd light or two readily at hand and Richard was kind enough to let me fire off a few shots

 

To do justice to the man, I'll simply paste an extract from a newspaper detailing Richard's capabilities as a pilot

 

He is widely feted as being Qantas' best pilot - one of the most experienced in the skies - and is a seasoned captain on the A380.

 

Now he can add hero to his list of achievements.

 

And for 465 passengers and crew, he is also a lifesaver, having guided a badly-damaged aircraft to the safety of Singapore Airport and averting what could have been a catastrophe.

 

Passengers on QF32 would never have guessed it from his calm, reassuring tone over the intercom, but Captain de Crespigny had a battle on his hands just minutes after taking off bound for Sydney on Thursday (November 06, 2010)

 

An engine had just exploded in flames under the port wing of his A380, severing vital links to another engine, leaving it running at full power, and damaging the hydraulic systems.

 

A fuel tank pierced by debris was leaking, and he would have to rely on gravity to lower the nose wheel down, while landing at high speed.

 

But Captain de Crespigny - and his cockpit crew, David Evans, Harry Wubben, Matt Hicks and Mark Johnson - made it look easy.

 

At his home in Sydney, a phone call on Thursday from a Qantas official was the first his wife Coral knew of the potential mid-air disaster.

 

"That's Rich ... just so incredibly competent. Those passengers were very lucky he was up the front," Mrs de Crespigny said.

 

After hanging up from the Qantas staffer who alerted her to the drama on QF32, Mrs de Crespigny sent her husband a quick text message.

 

"I sent a message saying 'Wow, that was lucky', and he wrote back 'Yes and that 'he was very busy'," she said.

 

The father of two - Alexander, 21, and Sophie, 20 - first began flying 35 years ago with the RAAF, before joining Qantas in 1986. Captain de Crespigny, was one of the first two Qantas pilots to fly the A380 when they came into service two years ago.

 

"He absolutely adores his job and he is so good at it ... our friends often say 'If you're going to fly and anything happens, you'd want it to be on Rich's flight'," Mrs de Crespigny said.

 

Passengers on board the flight now think exactly the same thing and yesterday spoke of the captain's warm and calm approach when disaster struck.

 

Just six minutes into Thursday's flight when the engine blew, Captain de Crespigny calmly addressed the passengers over the intercom: "I do apologise. I'm sure you are aware we have a technical issue with our No. 2 engine ... I'm sure you are aware we are not proceeding to Sydney at this stage ... The aircraft is flying safely at this stage".

 

After he guided QF32 to a safe landing at Singapore's Changi airport, Captain de Crespigny addressed passengers personally and spent 20 minutes answering their questions in the terminal.

 

He even gave some his personal mobile number and told them to call him if they had any problems or issues.

 

"He took questions for about 20 minutes. He was fantastic. He was very passionate about his flying, passionate about Qantas and about the cabin crew and passengers," Sydney lawyer Mick Hunter said as he checked in for his flight home.

 

"He said grab a pen and gave us his mobile number. He said Qantas is not a no-frills airline, they look after passengers, so call me if I have any issues at all."

 

To say that I was a little star struck to have shaken the hand of such a man is not that far from the truth, but he's not all that he cracks up to be ... he shoots Nikon :-p

 

Thanks Richard, you made my day !

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Taken on October 1, 2011