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Qantas pilot who saved 469 lives to speak at AirVentureQantas pilot who saved 469 lives to speak at AirVenture

Richard de Crespigny, the Qantas Airlines captain who led a crew of nine in flying a crippled Airbus A380 with 460 passengers aboard to a safe landing after an engine exploded, will speak at the Theater in the Woods on July 19 as EAA AirVenture 2015 opens in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The ordeal that de Crespigny and his crew faced is not widely known in the states. Qantas Flight 32 had departed Singapore en route to Melbourne, Australia, on Nov. 4, 2010, when the No. 2 engine of the world’s largest and most advanced four-engine airliner came apart, causing extensive damage and triggering a multitude of separate emergency warnings for the flight crew to handle.

What de Crespigny did not know as he struggled to confront the crisis was that another challenge awaited him—the onset of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that would keep him on the ground during several months of self-imposed rest and recovery.

Captain de Crespigny’s account of saving the airliner—and all souls on board—is the subject of QF32, a best-selling and award-winning autobiography. He also is a sought-after speaker on crisis management and problem solving.

He relates how in the aftermath of the emergency he was cleared by his airline to fly after a week away from the cockpit. But he declined—instead taking off several months and seeking out psychological counseling to cope with the overflowing emotions brought out by the ordeal.

Through his story he encourages others to seek help—pointing out that submerged problems cannot be suppressed forever.

de Crespigny, 57, was born and educated in Melbourne, Australia. At 17, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force Academy. He joined Qantas 11 years after becoming a RAAF pilot, flying the Boeing 747.

He began to fly the Airbus A380 in 2008 as one of Qantas’ most senior captains.

On Nov. 4, 2010, he and his fellow officers were faced with keeping the extensively damage aircraft aloft for more than two hours until it could be landed at Singapore Changi Airport. Then, leaking fuel and another engine’s refusal to shut down required that he keep everyone on board for another two hours. Eventually all the airliner’s occupants exited the aircraft unharmed.

de Crespigny will speak at 7 p.m. on July 19 during An Evening With Champions, EAA AirVenture’s traditional pre-convention program, at the Theater in the Woods, with Tye Mortensen as master of ceremonies. It will be de Crespigny’s first U.S. speaking engagement.

He will be followed at 8:30 p.m. by celebrity flight instructor, aviation humorist, author of 10 books, and AOPA National Flight Instructor spokesman Rod Machado, who will entertain the audience on the subject of "The Funny Side of Aviation."

Topics: EAA AirVenture, Events, Aviation Organizations

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