When Maureen Crawford saw a crop-spraying plane flying low over the fields of Coonamble one day in 2004, she wondered if the pilot was in trouble. The question quickly became a gnawing doubt, so Maureen did what most people wouldn’t have: she drove out to find the plane, and single-handedly rescued the pilot from the wreckage.
As she arrived at the shattered plane, Maureen looked for the pilot. She spotted him in the wreckage and feared the worst, but her hopes were raised when she heard him groan.
The pilot had several broken bones and was concussed, but was still firmly strapped into his harness. Maureen climbed onto the wing and coaxed the pilot into releasing his buckle.
With the plane’s radio smashed, Maureen had no way of summoning help.
She guided the pilot out of the plane and into her car for the trip back to her son’s property. By the time the ambulance arrived, the pilot was unconscious.
Maureen is a former nurse, and credits her calm rescue to her nursing experience. ‘I was trained at Dubbo Base,’ she says,’ and in a country hospital, you dealt with whatever came in.’
Initially, Maureen was embarrassed by all the attention and reluctant to accept the Commendation for Bravery. After talking it through with her family, she saw things differently.
‘People like a good story, rather than all the sad stories around,’ she says. ‘And I’m very proud of it now. I loved going to receive the award and I felt it was a very proud moment really.’
For her rescue of the pilot in Coonamble, Maureen was awarded the Commendation for Brave Conduct in 2009.