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22-July-2015   Coolangatta to Radar Identification  

When reading this article, you need to bear in mind that I have written this article and changed it many times as more and more information becomes available, so what you read here is as a result of actually hundreds - if not thousands of hours of research.

Please don’t write me off if you find something that doesn’t quite add up correctly as it is a very complex subject and at times gets very confusing... especially as I’m getting older and really struggle with some of the calculations, but I have tried very hard to be thorough and accurate.

I have lost track of the amount of times I have deleted many pages and rewritten much of this due to the new information discounting what was a feasible theory.... very frustrating, but it is important that we get it right. I believe that I now have it quite accurate and I really was amazed at just how accurate this track of MDX could be determined. I challenge anyone to disprove what I am about to attempt to portray to you, as I’m more than happy to be proven wrong!  Although I believe that I finally have it correct of what happened  to MDX, be aware that this is a document that could change if more information becomes available... so you may need to check it from time to time. I will add a designated page at the end of the article to notify of any changes if there is any. I will alsoendeavor to provide as much information as I can without making this article too long and boring you! There is much more I can say, but I think there is enough to show the area where I currently believe MDX rests - and why.

Most (if not all) of my conclusions are based on volumes and volumes of information that has been extremely difficult to gather!

In about September 2014, the Australian National Archives finally released the file on VH-MDX so I have now been able to glean the follow information from it to add to what I already had:

The aircraft flew without incident from Proserpine and landed in Coolangatta where it was refueled. At Coolangatta the fuel tanks were filled to maximum.

They departed Coolangatta at 07:02 UTC (add 10 hrs for Standard Time) and headed off into weather forecast as this:“A strong west-south-westerly airflow over northern New South Wales, with considerable low level cloud to the west of the mountains but only scattered stratocumulus or cumulus up to 6,000 feet to the east and over the coast. The freezing level was expected to be between 4,000 and 7,000 feet above mean sea level, and moderate icing was forecast in cloud above that level. A SIGMET (forecast of significant weather which may affect aircraft safety) was current, indicating occasional severe turbulence existed below 12,000 feet to the east of the mountains.”

I would expect that the trip was plagued with a fair amount of turbulence.

VH-MDX was a model Cessna 210M (non turbocharged) and was issued with a Certificate of Airworthiness on 3rd February, 1978.

Cessna 210 M (prior to 1978) - Performance Data (

Horsepower: 300 Gross Weight: 3800 lbs

Top Speed: 174 kts Empty Weight: 2219 lbs

Cruise Speed: 170 kts   Fuel Capacity: 90 gal

Stall Speed (dirty): 57 kts Range: 600 nm

Takeoff Landing: Ground Roll: 1250 ft Ground Roll 765 ft

Over 50 ft obstacle: 2030 ft Over 50 ft obstacle: 1500 ft

Rate Of Climb: 860 fpm

Ceiling: 17300 ft

You can see from the above specifications for a Cessna 210 that according to his Flight Plan that he would have filled the fuel tanks to full as he required 89 gallons to safely do the trip.

The aircraft was equipped with a VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range navigation system),  and ADF (Automatic Direction Finding) as shown in the relevant portion of the Flight Plan:

Both of these instruments require their own independent radio frequencies to enable them to operate. (UHF and VHF)

For instance, in the case of Coffs Harbour the frequency for the VOR is 117.0 VHF and the NDB for the ADF is 311 UHF. You’ll note these frequencies written in the Flight Plan next page. is a good website if you wish to learn more on these instruments and their capabilities.

<<<<A VOR Instrument

 An ADF Instrument>>>>   

                                                                                                                           I believe MDX had a fixed card version ADF - not a rotating one as shown here. The fixed card version has “N” (or “00”) always at the top and is not as easy to use.                                                              


MDX pg 2

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