Essay: The Sugar Glider by Rod Nielsen

This book is about a pilot named Paul Copeman, he is contracted to fly an old plane (DC4) that’s called Sugar Glider to Melbourne Air Museum. A government agent offers him a lot of money to go back to Warrangi mine. He needs to pick up some equipment and chemicals. There’s only one thing he must take a friend Don Radcliffe to be his co-pilot. Paul meets him at the airfield near Brisbane. Don was working full time after his divorce, and is looking forward to spending time with his daughter Judy, but he has to fly ones a month. He is willing to take Paul’s offer to fly the Sugar Glider. Sylvia (the ex-wife of Don) with her new husband Patrick and Judy (their daughter) arrive. Don takes Judy on the flight. The plane can’t land at Warrangi airfield. Instead of there they land to the west of Warrangi. Don is curious what kind of goods they are carrying, but Paul doesn’t answer. On route to Melbourne they got an engine that doesn’t work anymore so they have to crash land. Don and Judy are fine but Paul got hurt really bad and can’t make it any further. With his last breath, Paul says that the cargo is illegal uranium. Don finds out that the plane has been sabotaged, the crash was intentionally, and they must flee. On the news Sylvia sees her daughter Judy in Warrangi, so she contacts the authorities. In the outback Judy tames wild horses for them to ride. Don is injured when he falls from his horse, and Judy continues alone. She arrives at a remote sheep station, and the farmer, John Fittock phones for assistance, but the people who arrive are not from Air Rescue ‘ Judy recognizes someone from Warrangi. It becomes apparent that the men intend to locate the plane first rather than rescue Don. Judy and the farmer are now prisoners. In the morning Judy is taken in a helicopter, and eventually a body is spotted in a ravine. The gang know they are close to the Sugar Glider. The scene shifts to Canberra, where a man called Berjenka and another foreigner are in discussions about the purchase and shipment of the uranium. The gang reaches the Sugar Glider, and its cargo is unloaded. Another helicopter arrives with Patrick Forsha and Berjenka. Suddenly Australian Air Force planes appear overhead. In the panic that follows Patrick shoots Berjenka, then drags Judy into his helicopter. Judy jumps to safety and moments later the helicopter is fired on and bursts into flames. On the ground Judy is overjoyed to see her father alive. It becomes apparent that Patrick’s plan not only involved illegally selling the uranium, but also murdering Don in order to improve his chances of marrying Sylvia. The story concludes with the hint of a reconciliation between Sylvia and Don.

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