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Michael Bonner


Load Control



Home City:


Date of Passing:


I first met Michael Bonner late in 1968, when I transferred out to Traffic - as it was then called – at Sydney’s Old terminal.
He was Fulvio Bonacorsi back then with a frame and personality both larger than life, a good sense of humour and a booming, infectious laugh.
Somewhere in Michael's garage there's a box with a file containing a dozen or so manual Loadsheets completed during those frantic days after Tracy.
On one of them - VH-EBB (28 Dec 1974) from memory, configured 56F 300Y - he'd write and encircle a pax figure 673, a record that still stands I think.
On another, VH-EAH, a 707, not sure whether configured 172Y or 20F120Y, Michael and Finlay would embark a staggering 327 passengers.
And so it went.
Five years later he'd come up to BAH, on a short posting to help out on the Ramp. He was quick to form a comfortable and productive association with the local Bahrainis, who liked his laid back, no nonsense style.
I’d later write a story about Michael and an incident that could have easily have ended in tragedy – no fault of Michael’s – in which he’d become Michael “Goodstreet” , which I think is the literal translation of his name from the Italian.
Michael and a couple of posted Qantas staff, plus a few DHL employees, had gone water skiing in the DHL speedboat, well to the north of Muharraq, the more northerly of the two islands that make up the Bahrain group.
Fuel became a problem so after “parking” the Qantas people and one of their colleagues on a sand-bar, a couple of the DHL fellas had taken off for fuel.
On the boat’s return, the DHL chaps couldn’t find the island.
Long before GPS’s.
Even though it’s pretty much land-locked, there are tides in the Gulf, and by late afternoon, the area of sand available to the castaways was shrinking.
At around 10pm that night, Ali, one of our 2 Bahraini Duty Officers phoned me at home to tell me that Bonner and the other two posted staff hadn’t turned up for work, and that DHL were also missing a staff member.
The two DHL chaps had a rough idea, fortunately, of where we should be looking, so when Ali offered the use of his boat and a couple friends to crew it, I asked him to go ahead, and take one of our Motorola radios in case we could get a signal from him.
I got dressed and went to work.
Ali Shamlan found them around midnight, crowded into a pocket-handkerchief sized area on the sandbar that was mostly submerged.
We all had a nervous laugh then and later as the realisation grew that it could all so easily, have ended in tears.

RIP Michael. You’re still missed.

John McHarg

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