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A Load of Croc

The croc's snouts were bound to prevent an untoward snapping but their tales and bodies were another matter.
The crocs' snouts were bound to prevent an untoward snapping but their tales and bodies were another matter (WN09-0021-60)

By SGT Roddy Arriagada

After successfully delivering No.5 Squadron’s pack up to Korea, the No. 40 Squadron crew members next task was to collect two live crocodiles from Darwin and Cairns and return them back to Whenuapai where they would be driven to their new home at Butterfly Creek.

The mighty C-130 is famous for cargo delivery, though to be fair both the aircraft and the crew were a little anxious about the possible consequences of this ‘fragile’ cargo getting free.

Each crocodile weighed around 450 kgs and were roughly four-five metres in length, if this wasn’t impressive enough, with a combined age of 80 years these two reptiles were the oldest on the aircraft. 

The first to be collected out of Darwin was called Scar, along with his four handlers. By Tuesday morning he had already been in his 116 x 80 x 25 inch wooden box for 24 hours and as we were to find out later he was getting pretty sick of it. The crew discussed the unlikely event of ditching (emergency water landing) from Australia to New Zealand with two full grown crocodiles in the back. We came to a unanimous decision that even though the crocs would be under our recommended weight for jettisoning it was better to have only one predator on board when ditching - the flight engineer - than three. At least we could control the flight engineer. After collecting Goldie in Cairns along with one handler we were ready to take these reptiles to their new home in New Zealand.

During the seven hour flight back to New Zealand we learnt a few useful things about our cargo. Most of us thought that these savage beasts would feel rough and cold to touch but it was actually the opposite - they were warm and soft. They are also more economical pets than a cat or dog as they get fed one chicken a week and don’t require walks.

If a crocodile was to break loose in the aircraft, a stretcher placed seven feet off the ground by the loadmaster would still not be a safe place to be, as they can reach up to eight feet high.

Lastly, Scar does not appreciate a torch being shone into his box by the loadmaster as it will irritate and waken him to the point thrashing around so much the flight deck could feel the vibrations. As it turns out, the pilot didn’t appreciate the loadmaster shining his torch into the box either. The handlers then had to sedate him - Scar that is. All in all it was a very exciting trip home with something out of the ordinary and I am pretty sure something the whole crew will remember for the rest of our lives.

These magnificent animals are now able to be viewed by the public at Butterfly Creek. I recommend you take yourself and your family to see Scar and Goldie as I know they will captivate you as they did with the crew of No. 40 Squadron.

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