Object crash lands in Bridgewater

A WHOLE: Lot of mystery surrounds a crater which appeared by the side of the road two weeks ago, seen here after it was filled with soil. Picture: JODIE WIEGARD
A WHOLE: Lot of mystery surrounds a crater which appeared by the side of the road two weeks ago, seen here after it was filled with soil. Picture: JODIE WIEGARD

UPDATE 4.50pm:

A Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesperson said the operation was all above board.

“They were testing dropping packages from a helicopter with a parachute attached,” he said.

“The road was completely closed.”

A significant evaluation of the test site was conducted before the drop.

UPDATE 2.50pm:

RUMOURS began circulating in Bridgewater after a crater – which contained fragments of circuit board chips and twisted metal – was found by the side of the highway two weeks ago.

Locals believed it was a meteorite… or was it a piece of debris from a helicopter? Others spoke of UFOs. Some even believed a secret CIA test was behind the mystery.

But the truth, it appears, was out there all along – and would not make such a great X-Files episode.

“We were testing a parachute,” Australian Skydive Bridgewater director Ralph Hamilton-Presgrave said.

“It weighs about one tonne at was travelling at 300 knots, so while there was no explosion, there was a big ‘whoomp’ when it hit the dirt.

“The circuit board chips were just the data-reporting mechanisms.”

The test was sanctioned by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Ralph Hamilton-Presgrave said, and was part of routine testing for industrial development.

“We take it up in a helicopter to about 9000 feet, we drop it and it freefalls, then it goes through a staged opening sequence, the parachute opens and it lands safely.”

And while not everything went according to plan on this occasion, Mr Hamilton-Presgrave said his company followed all appropriate safety precautions and the test posed no risk to the general public.

“We did kill a field mouse though, so there was one casualty” Mr Hamilton-Presgrave said.

“He must have been mid-nibble when the shockwave hit him.”

IT WENT 'WHOOMP': 'Like when you hit a kangaroo... but it was travelling a lot faster," Mr Hamilton Presgrave said. Picture: JODIE WIEGARD

IT WENT 'WHOOMP': 'Like when you hit a kangaroo... but it was travelling a lot faster," Mr Hamilton Presgrave said. Picture: JODIE WIEGARD

The parachute landed less than 200 metres outside of the company’s 115 hectare property.

Mr Hamilton-Presgrave said a working crew of more than 15 people were monitoring the test, including people stationed approximately one kilometre down the road in either direction.

“They had two way radios and if anyone had have been coming we would have called the test off,” he said. “There are no buildings around and there was no danger in this test.”

The parachute is being designed as a recovery system for experimental aircraft.

“When it has gone through all the testing it will be attached to a specific type of sports aircraft,” Mr Hamilton-Presgrave said.

“Obviously, the mechanisms we were using failed this time, but we've gone back to the drawing board and reconfigured everything and two days later we tested it again and it worked perfectly,” he said.

“That's why we go through a testing process.”

The three- by six-metre hole has now been filled.