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‘Bond of man and machine’ led police officer to save helicopter

written by Hannah Dowling | February 9, 2022

A former Victoria Police officer has said the “bond of man and machine” was behind his decision to take money out of his mortgage to rescue the state’s first helicopter from disrepair.

Mark Whorlow personally paid $15,000 for the Dauphin 2 after finding it “stripped for parts” and listed on eBay, before transferring ownership to the Australian National Aviation Museum.

He subsequently managed to recoup his own costs after launching a GoFundMe page last year.

You can read the full story in the new EMS In-Focus digital edition of Australian Aviation, out now. To find out more and subscribe, click here.

The Victoria Police Air Wing first purchased the twin-engine Aerospatiale AS-365C1 Dauphin 2, nicknamed Daphne, in 1978 and it entered service the following year.

It served until 2001 but was notable for its involvement in a number of high-profile missions, including rescuing mariners when severe weather struck the Sydney to Hobart race in 1998.

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“Daphne was the first of her kind in Australia and an important part of Victoria’s history and police history,” Whorlow said. “She symbolises the bond that we officers formed with each other during our multi-role operations, search and rescue, and aeromedical. And we bonded with her too – the bond of man and machine that I think is common in aviation.”

At first, the aircraft was purchased by a private collector but changed hands a number of times over the next few years.

“She ended up in Maryborough in central Victoria, and the guy who owned her ended up listing Daphne on eBay,” said Whorlow.

Whorlow put down a deposit of $500 to remove the advert, before taking money out of his mortgage to buy the aircraft outright for $15,000.

He subsequently set up a GoFundMe in order to recover some of the funds and also help get Daphne, registration VH-PVF, into the Australian National Aviation Museum.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. The people at the museum are just as passionate, focused and dedicated to Daphne as any of us who flew onboard,” Whorlow said.

Australian Aviation’s new In-Focus digital issue investigates the most significant issues in emergency medical services aviation. It includes a cover feature, by new contributor Andrew Boniface, on why mental health and teamwork are vital in modern-day helicopter EMS as well as reports on the importance of simulators and the latest advances in drone tech. To find out more and subscribe, click here

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