Drug runner intercepted over NT

On this day, a light aircraft was spotted on radar entering the Northern Territory to the west of Darwin. Coincidentally, a C-130 Hercules (A97-168) from No 37 Squadron was returning from a trip to Butterworth and was about to come into Darwin at the same time. In the absence of any fighters to scramble, the captain of the RAAF transport was asked to follow the mystery aircraft as it travelled inland. Eventually the C-130 caught up with what turned out to be a twin-engine Aero Commander 680E. The pilot of the light aircraft made a crashlanding in a muddy paddock 14 kilometres north-west of Katherine, then set the aircraft on fire in an attempt to conceal that on board were 270 000 Thai ‘buddha sticks’ (high-grade cannabis) worth nearly $4 million. After hiding out in the bush for 40 hours, the pilot––later identified as drug runner, Donald Tait––was discovered by police and arrested. Tait was subsequently jailed for seven years.

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