Camden South pilot shares Sully-like story

Forty-six seconds.

That's how long for Captain Rod Lovell's whole life to change.

The long-term Camden South resident - he moved to South Australia four years ago - was flying a DC-3 plane which had taken off from Sydney Airport on April 24, 1994 when one of his engines failed. He was forced to make a split-second decision, and called on his training and experience to ditch the plane (make a water landing) in Botany Bay.

Despite his heroic actions saving the lives of all 25 souls on board, Captain Lovell was suspended by the aviation authority.

He has now written a book called From Hero to Zero about his life and the incident, and will hold a book signing at Narellan Library this month to share his story.

"Everyone's heard of Sully and the Miracle on the Hudson, but some people don't know that almost the same thing happened to me 15 years earlier," Captain Lovell said. "And while Sully has been hailed as a hero and has done talking tours about his life, I was vilified and turned into a scapegoat.

"So this book is my way of reclaiming the narrative, of telling the truth about what really happened.

"If you search my name online you'll find that I'm still blamed for the crash and I want to set the record straight."

Captain Lovell said there were other plane crashes in Australia around the time of his forced ditching, and there was pressure on the aviation industry to act.

He thinks that's one of the big reasons he was blamed for the incident, instead of being praised for his quick thinking.

"I was suspended three months after the crash, which doesn't make sense to me," Captain Lovell said.

"If they thought I was a danger and unable to do the job, why didn't they suspend me right away? They just wanted a scapegoat.

"But I went to America and got my licence there so they were forced to re-license me in Australia."

Catch Captain Lovell's book-signing at Narellan Library on Monday, October 28 from 3pm to 7.3pm in the Iron Bark Room.

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