Canberra Air Disaster

Since moving to Canberra, Estelle has turned her energy and passion to doing what she can to rectify wrongful conviction in a Sydney case of an innocent man sentenced to a long prison term for murder and by overturning or at least revealing doubt about the cause of what’s known as the Canberra Air Disaster. Inquiries following the crash on 13 August 1940 found it was due to pilot error, despite immediate and continuing rumours that the RAAF pilot from WA, Flight-Lieutenant Bob Hitchcock, was not at the controls at the time – the Minister for Air James Fairbairn having taken over.

The crash led to the fall of the Menzies government the following year and the election of a Labor Government, WA’s only Prime Minister, John Curtin, becoming Australia’s Prime Minister for the remainder of the Second World War. The judgment that it was the fault of pilot Bob Hitchcock led to his widow suffering mentally and eventually taking her life.
Former NSW Attorney-General and Barrister Andrew Took states in his book Air Disaster Canberra: The crash that destroyed a government that after examining the evidence only, not meeting any of the descendants, he believes
Minister James Fairbairn was at the controls when the plane crashed.


Buried Secrets – Published in the Sunday Times Magazine, WA, 31 October 2021

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