Van Emmerik Air CrashPrint Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Cheryl Russ (RFDS Western Operations Base Administrator, Derby)

The plaque commemorates the Royal Flying Doctor Service aeroplane which crashed at Hawkstone Peak in 1956. 

The aeroplane was on an emergency Royal Flying Doctor Service ambulance flight from Tablelands Station to Derby on the 4th February 1956. The crash killed the pilot (Peter J. van Emmerik), two Derby-based nurses (Frances Day (20) and Margaret Newman (19)), the 9 month old patient (Helen Rudduck) and her father (Jack Rudduck).

After the aeroplane had arrived at Tablelands, the weather had deteriorated but because the patient was seriously ill, Van Emmerick decided to make the 344 kilometre flight to Derby . The last reported location was some 16 kilometres from Mt. House Station.

Despite an extensive (38,850 square-kilometre) search by some 16 aeroplanes, the crash site submerged in flood-water, was not located until the 22nd February  and was reached only after crossing some 27 kilometres of swamp. The aeroplane and its occupants had been almost completely destroyed. Although the coroner’s report was inconclusive, it was generally thought that the aeroplane had become uncontrollable in the severe electrical storm and hit the ground at an angle of some 78 degrees.


Address:Derby Highway, RFDS Hangar,Derby Airport, Derby, 6728
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -17.591944
Long: 123.826944
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Disaster
Actual Event Start Date:04-February-1956
Actual Event End Date:04-February-1956


Front Inscription

Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
(Victorian Section)

This tablet commemorates the gallant and heroic attempt of Capt. Pieter Van Emmerick to save the life of a sick child, Helen Rudduck in a mercy flight from the Tableland Station on 4th February 1956.

In an electrical storm of unprecedented violence, the aircraft was forced down at Hawkstone Peak.  

The child`s father Jack Rudduck and nurses Frances Day and Margaret Newman also perished.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au