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Hero's welcome for captain courageous

Date

Ella Fisher

Captain Richard de Crespigny talking to grammar students, Cameron Nicholls, 17, Nicholas del Rio, 17, and Oliver Tridgell, 17, about when he landed a Qantas Airbus A380 that had an exploded engine.

Captain Richard de Crespigny talking to grammar students, Cameron Nicholls, 17, Nicholas del Rio, 17, and Oliver Tridgell, 17, about when he landed a Qantas Airbus A380 that had an exploded engine. Photo: Melissa Adams

You may not recognise him but you would have heard of this hero's story.

Captain Richard de Crespigny safely landed the Qantas Airbus A380 in Singapore after an engine exploded in November 2010.

The Qantas pilot spoke to senior students at Canberra Grammar School on Monday about his book QF32 about the dramatic flight and how he and his crew averted catastrophe.

''The QF32 story is an exercise on motivation and inspiration for younger readers that explains that I was an average student but I had to become an excellent student to get into the air force. How I motivated myself and how all my background experiences helped me make my decisions on the flight,'' he said.

Captain de Crespigny was in command of Qantas Flight 32 from Singapore to Sydney when engine two exploded four minutes after takeoff from Changi Airport over Batam Island in Indonesia.

''It was a dramatic flight where an unexpected number of things happened in great quantity … there were 500 impacts on the aircraft and 21 out of 22 systems were affected.''

The crew spent an hour using checklists to evaluate the state of the aircraft before landing safely in Singapore.

''The story of QF32 is one of two hours in the air, then two hours on the ground, as we could not shut down one of the engines, and then the aftermath of post-traumatic stress.''

His wife, Coral de Crespigny, said she had always had the utmost confidence in her husband's skills.

''The [book] was a labor of love … writing it and also speaking here today is a cathartic or therapeutic experience for him as he relives the incident,'' Mrs de Crespigny said.

Captain de Crespigny said his visit to Canberra Grammar was a way to give back to teachers who invested so much in each student's education.

IT teacher Matthew Purcell organised the captain's visit after reading QF32.

School captain Oliver Tridgell said he was looking forward to hearing Captain de Crespigny's story because he was interested in being a pilot.

''I remember reading about the incident in the news and found it very interesting, so I was really excited about hearing his personal experience,'' Mr Tridgell said.

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