NT Pilot arrested after alleged touch and go incident on Uluru

5 February, 2015. 12:06

ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

A LIGHT aircraft pilot has been arrested on the tarmac at Alice Springs airport after allegedly performing a “touch and go” on the top of Uluru.

After allegedly performing a "touch and go" on Uluru, a 27-year-old Queensland man has been arrested. PHOTO: NT News
After allegedly performing a “touch and go” on Uluru, a 27-year-old Queensland man has been arrested. PHOTO: NT News

The 27-year-old man from Yaraka, in central western Queensland, was granted bail by Alice Springs Magistrates Court as his legal team arrives in the red centre over the weekend.

The tyres on the aircraft left two long marks on the surface of the famous landmark, which is expected to cost millions to remove.

He has been charged with a string of aviation and criminal offences, which include operating an aircraft while intoxicated, endangering the safety of an aircraft and criminal damage to a sacred site.

The man’s six-seater, single-engine Piper Saratoga has been seized by Northern Territory Police for forensic examination.

Detectives are trying to establish what motivated the man to try to land his plane on the monolith and he’s chosen to remain silent on the matter.

Local media have dubbed the pilot “The Red Centre Barron” but have been placed under a gag order – effectively blacking out coverage from mainstream media.

Dayle Wap-Johns is a cleaner at the nearby Ayers Rock Resort and saw the action unfold.

“He coming in hot. Like real hot,” said Mr Wap-Johns.

“He done flown right over [sic] my head and straight on for the rock,”

“I heard the ‘squeak’ from they tires, too – when he put ‘er [sic] down.”

As The Betoota Advocate is independently owned and run, we are not subject to the gag order and can report on the story accordingly.

The alleged aviation criminal is set to reappear in court later this month.




87 Responses to "NT Pilot arrested after alleged touch and go incident on Uluru"

  1. Daniel Bolton   February 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    i can remove the marks for $500,000 if you like?

    • Stefan   February 8, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      I’ll do it for $499995 :-p

  2. Big Lez   February 5, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Its a big rock, get over it.

    • Simo   February 7, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Your a big racist pig…. get over it

    • Big Lezbiane   February 7, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      you are a retard Lez

    • scott   February 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      gee they will want millions to clean it up, not it will cost millions to clean up but not allowed to touch the bloody rock so they will use helicopters to wash it off ha ha . what a load of crap it only sacred to get money

    • sirjulio   February 7, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      It’s unfortunate morons like you have a medium in which to spew forth your ignorance. It and Kata Jtuta are mind blowing water catchers in the middle of an unforgiving hot dry world. There existence allows life to thrive and hence explain their centrality to the Tjukurpa. Do you identify with anything important? Would a mindless outsider defacing what is most significant to you cause offense? Grow a clue before you brainfart.

  3. Jacqui   February 6, 2015 at 12:49 am

    How is it going to be cleaned? Wouldn’t that cause more damage?

  4. Brayden   February 6, 2015 at 4:02 am

    millions to remove!!!! Hahahaha. What a load of bull. I’ll scrub the marks off for a carton. A few years ago this would of been seen as a great gag. When did we get so serious. Oh no that’s right it’s probably racist or something.

    • Tim   February 7, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Apart from bring extremely dangerous and stupid. The intoxicated pilot could well have crashed the aircraft up there. It is evactly the type of disrespect and threat to our culture, that some believe recent arrivals to Australia show towards our way if life.

    • sirjulio   February 7, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      that was a very truthful, profound and self aware statement of yours at the end there mate.

    • Tony woolaston   February 8, 2015 at 7:56 am

      could not have said it better myself
      Well done

    • Borrey   February 9, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      Some of the locals would have the marks removed for even less than a carton!

  5. Matt   February 6, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Stupid thing to do granted and he will pay the price at court – however I’m with old mate… Big extension cord – solvent and pressure cleaner…. Its a rock..

    • sirjulio   February 7, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      true mate, geologically it’s just a rock. just like the mona lisa is just a bit of canvas and some paint. let’s just sharpen her up with a bit of ajax and a scourer.

  6. Kate   February 6, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    This is shocking! How disrespectful!

    • sirjulio   February 7, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      I know Kate, disgusting isn’t it. After the last election I wondered how there that could be that many imbecilic morons in the country. This article and these responses are giving me a clearer understanding.

      • nick   March 14, 2015 at 8:34 am

        your comments are what causes racism, ffs its a huge rock that everyones walked on for ten thousand years (according to your lot) with out any damage as its still there (NOT WORN AWAY)NOW POOR TOURISTS TRAVEL SEVERAL HUNDRED KILOMETERS INTO THE DESERT, GET CHARGED A SMALL FORTUNE BY PARKS AND WILDLIFE TO GO THROUGH A GATE IN THE SCRUB AND SIT AND LOOK AT IT FROM A Kilometer away and all the time paying every grub there a fee ,I hope no-one ever visits the shithole again then we will see how important it is to your lot when the money stops

        • Leigh   March 16, 2015 at 8:35 pm

          Hahaha well said Nick

        • Max   March 22, 2016 at 11:48 am

          Anything to get money out of people your right its just a big rock and it gets windy up the top maybe a gust of wind blew him into it.
          I work out there for six months with Red Centre Bricklaying and walked around it and over it heaps of time but it still only a big fucking rock the Olgas are much better and heaps more interesting

      • ernie   May 31, 2015 at 4:18 pm

        nah, morons like u just need to stop taking offence to everything and calling absolutely everything that happens racsist… u say this incident is racsist… maybe what went through the pilots mind before he did it was “oh my god how cool would it be if i did this?!”…. yeah… still racsist… so sick of people like you making everything racsist by assuming whats gone through someones head to justify their actions… its always racsism… get a life

  7. Kate   February 6, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    It’s a World Heritage Site and a sacred site!! Seriously!!

  8. Anne Warburton   February 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Deeply offensive to whom? Have the local traditional owners complained? They never used to complain in the days when it was OK to climb the rock!

  9. Michael   February 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Who cares really.. Disrespectful? Hahah filthy coons

  10. Rhys   February 6, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Having flown many hours in the area, I have good reason to believe this is not a true story. The photo definitely not Alice Springs!

    • Man Of Smoke   March 20, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      Shhhh…… some of these people think this is a true story. Oops ….. 🙁

  11. Andrew   February 6, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Get Over It!! Worse things happening in the world…

  12. Graeme   February 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Seriously its a rock
    get over it
    really its only really special to the locals because they all make a living off it.

  13. Greg   February 6, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Rock on or rock off actually

  14. Steve   February 6, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Stupid stunt and could have gone wrong .
    BUT Kate you want to see shocking and disrespectful go to the net and watch what ISIS is doing .That will put it in some proportion .For $500000 Ill clean it too Daniel .

  15. John   February 6, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Bet he left a skid mark in his panties too…

  16. Kolby   February 6, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Its a rock!! Just a rock!!! What an unfortunate world we live in where some one marks a ROCK an people get offended!!! It’s a goddamn ROCK…..

  17. Craig   February 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Sounds like one for the list for work-for-the-dole. Cost neutral.

  18. Colin Luders   February 6, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    More guts than sense but what an achiement and for gods sake, have read remarks and agree it’s a rock and an extension lead and all done with a pressure cleaner. Lighten up folks we all know it isn’t what we would expect but I bet somebody with a camera would be hunted down by the media. Go easy on him, Everest next!.Oh! I did the climb in 1985 while the dingoes entertained my wife below . 38 minutes up 29 down.

  19. Aerolex   February 6, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Bloody ballsy and a legend (except for the intoxication bit, thats just stupid). May have started something here, best I get up there and set up a windsock and spray some ‘numbers’ and ‘piano keys’ on it 🙂

  20. Booey Morrison   February 6, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Ha what a legend he will now be! As a pilot I know that doing a perfect touch and go on an uneven rock would be very difficult… But to do it pissed!! As for millions to clean it up pppfft!! That will be down to some reverse racism Bulls..t about how they need to compensate the poor community that already earn absolute millions off the park.

  21. A Stagnitta   February 6, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Millions to clean it are they sending Politicians to do the job ????,I’ll clean it for $250,000

  22. Nino   February 6, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Millions to clean it are they sending Politicians to do the job ???

  23. Whitey   February 6, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    What a load of shit. Its a big rock in the middle of nowhere. I will clean it for a carton of VB. What a champ!

  24. David Berger   February 6, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    I’m more interested in this gag on the media. What is its justification and who imposed it? That’s the real story here. Please follow it up.

  25. Cam   February 6, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    get over it. The locals will see another opportunity for a handout from the government and there will be a do gooder out there who will find a way to make it happen for a few million dollars. No way the cleaner could pay so…..

  26. Chris   February 7, 2015 at 12:46 am

    I’m australian and I’m not offended, but im white

  27. Chris   February 7, 2015 at 12:53 am

    Ayres rock should be free for all Aussies and tourist to enjoy and appreciate and it seems he did just that. It’s a shame the minority running it have such a chip on their shoulders and stop freedom in our country

    • Timbo   February 19, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Ayers Rock Chris, not Ayres!

  28. Gary   February 7, 2015 at 4:06 am

    I’ll do it for $499,000 and a carton…

  29. Allan Blackwell   February 7, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Oh stop being so precious – Its a ROCK and that’s quite a funny prank. Give him a slap on the wrist and make him clean it off. Save your millions of precious dollars for an aboriginal alcohol rehab clinic.

  30. Robert   February 7, 2015 at 9:49 am

    A gag order! Why? That seems so unnecessary.

  31. DJ   February 7, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Call me cynical but has anyone noticed that “sacred sites” are only discovered when there’s lots of dollars involved & are only claimed once they’ve been developed. There should be a sunset clause where all the sites are pointed out then that’s it.
    Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill, it’s a rock & it’s part of the Australian landscape, get over it.

  32. K   February 7, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Millions of dollars to remove the marks?? What a crock!! Someone’s being ripped off!!

    I agree the marks need to be removed but that is just ridiculous!!

  33. Jeremy   February 7, 2015 at 11:58 am

    What an arrogant prick. It’s not just rock! It’s a place of spritual significance to many groups and he should be jailed, fined and lose his asset for disrespecting this most sacred heritage site. Imagine if someone landed on your house, bet you wouldn’t take that too lightly.

  34. elise   February 7, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Yeah, not ok. It’s a pretty awesome thing. And very bloody rough up top. Not smart, not ok.

  35. Guy   February 7, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    other offences aside, you could crash the plane into the Rock and it wouldn’t hurt it.
    Get over it.

  36. Bill   February 7, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Absolutely stupid. The top of Uluru is all wavy ridges and a stunt like that is almost suicidal. Such a beautiful and spiritual place – I hope the spirits give him the appropriate karma.

  37. Bob   February 7, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    I hope he enjoyed his last flight

  38. Ben   February 7, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Hey commenters. If you take umbrage toward the the fact that this man has done the wrong thing, or the amount to clean a world heritage site, perhaps you should look up Australia and indigenous massacres.
    Then compare,(after you actually read our history) them to the other globally recognised attempted genocides and massacres. Then you should put yourselves in the shoes of those whose parents and grandparents, that are still alive, who remember being culled.
    Then ask why, if you have the guts, Uluru, and other recognised sites of thousands of years of occupation, mean so much.

  39. Rob   February 7, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Really! … How indelicate !!
    People have been climbing & pissing on the bloody thing for years. Oh my god, some even where sandshoes, maybe a bit of rubber there, gosh !?
    How bloody sanctimonious & pure we’ve all become.
    Some people do still have a sense of humour & good old Aussie spirit & adventure, believe it or not!
    A tad dangerous maybe, but nobody got hurt except the pilots wallet. This guy can fly me around any day, good aviator.
    Get over it … & oh by the way, get a life Kate.

  40. Ron   February 7, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Obviously had engine trouble, made an emergency forced landing on the nearest hard surface … just as the tyres touched ‘The Rock’ the engine caught again & was able to make it back to base. Well done ‘Biggles’.

  41. Boss   February 7, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    BTW … This raises the question
    Who owns this ‘Rock’ any way ??
    Lets see … it’s over 1,000,000 years old, well & truly second hand, i would think.
    So many tenants in that time I guess.
    The Aborigines might have had a lend of it for l40,000 years, the rest of us have had a lend of it for the last 150 years & god knows who will be in possession of the thing by the year 3000.
    Get my drift !?
    You can be sure it won’t be any of the previous culprits. Yet we get so bloody sanctimonious about who can do what to it & when.
    The damn think has weathered so long under god knows what conditions, throughout all the past millenniums. I really don’t think a couple of ‘Goodyear’ marks will be too soul destroying to it.
    Really, who the hell do we think we are ??
    … but specs of dust passing by !

    • greg   February 13, 2015 at 2:33 pm


  42. susie   February 8, 2015 at 8:18 am

    He should have to clean it off himself and pay for all costs. And lose his licence for a year.

  43. Concerned   February 8, 2015 at 8:37 am

    If you “owned” this property you would be upset, if it held significance in a dogma, even more so, however it has lasted millions of years and isn’t going anywhere soon.

    It was a really dumb alleged act to perform in an aircraft with retractable landing gear, and it is certainly not an approved landing area , and an alleged act like this seems to reinforce findings that drinking impairs the thought processes.

    There allears to be the funny side to this but can you imagine what would have happened if the landing gear collapsed or the aircraft crashed on the rock?

    Are there any photos of the damage and who is going to be brave enough to fly close to take some shots with a news helicopter? Seeing the alleged skid marks on top would be something else.

  44. woz   February 8, 2015 at 10:13 am

    What a nanny nation you Aussies have become where men are girls and girls are whingers. Go and travel the world, then go back to your country to see how controlled you are. this tyre marks will disappear in no time….Millions of dollars hahah who is getting that some politician with a cleaning business i suspect

    All you need is heat. The hard surface will not be affected by the heat, but the rubber will. It will probably go black at first but then finally disappear as it is all burned off.

    This is simply called “high temperature incineration,” and is a common way of removing waste. All the carbon is converted to CO2 and all sulphates and nitrates are converted to SO2 and NO2 respectively.

  45. Mary   February 8, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    In this day and age, has anyone got any better suggestions how to get to the top of our remarkable rock?

  46. Wayne   February 8, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Did they have to say there’s a media blackout? That’s racist isn’t it? Bloody fanatics!

  47. Nigel   February 9, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    10,000 – 40,000 year ago people were painting on rocks in a way that if was done now some would just say was graffiti. If we leave the skid marks there, how do you think someone would perceive them in another 40,000 years?

    • Ray   February 21, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      Spot on Nigel, I don’t think there will be much rubber left in 2 years time, let alone 40,000 !
      Tyre rubber just ain’t that good any more .
      I think it’s all a bloody great hoax anyway …
      Congrats to the ‘Betoota Advocate’ for such a curious conversation piece. Really ‘cool’ ! 🙂

  48. Jim Hutson   February 10, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    In the late 60’s or early seventies one of Helicopter Utilities pilots ( Phil ) wrapped a Bell 47 G into a ball on the top of Ayres rock. Didn’t really mater then, seems to now. How sad we have become.

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  50. greg   February 12, 2015 at 1:40 am

    Yes it is just a rock, sacred site or not its just a rock, leave the marks there as a reminder of what happens when you deface an icon, secondly it has never been ok to pull a gag stunt like this, the aviation laws are very strict for a reason and this guy is going to get lynched for what he did aviation laws wise and rightly so!

  51. Timbo   February 19, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    “Ayers” Rock Chris not “Ayres”

  52. Andrew   February 21, 2015 at 11:23 am

    It didnt really happen folks . But for all the racist pigs making comment about the rock and the so called locals . The traditional owners have been here for over 22.000 years with one of the strogest cultures left in the world today . Show some respect and pull your heads in all the uneducated morons

    • Shannon   March 21, 2016 at 6:08 am

      Strong culture hahaha, you must be a hippie with a no u-mine sticker on their car and have never driven past Center link or a pub.

  53. Greg   February 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    The Money they want for removing a few scuff marks of a bloody rock will no doubtably go to the local community for their piss supply along with the millions they cipher of us already.

  54. Rod   February 25, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    I got a couple of indigenous chaps at the bottom of our nice clean and manicured estate. Dey gotta Falkon wid a loud muffler and dey chuk burnouts at the top of d street……bet ya can’t get dem ta clean them off??……it will be a long time before we break even…….I’m with you Lez…GET OVER IT.

  55. Pablo the Pilot   February 26, 2015 at 1:09 am

    What’s all this rock – around the clock
    I’m getting a big mental block

    Book the dude, clean the marks and get on with life

    If this is a true incident then throw the rule book at him so he can get an education

    Sure, it’s a Sacred Site and we ALL must respect that

    I have climbed it as a kid
    And Mt Olga too

    It’s an Australian thing to do

    But to do a touch and go onto the ‘Rock is definitely not on

    And, I can’t remember where you would be able to do that
    I don’t remember any flat spots that long up there
    And how long are these so called marks anyway?
    More than 60 cms?
    I doubt it

  56. Kev   September 11, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    You a such a shitbrain! The Mona Lisa is a human creation, a work of art. Ayers Rock is exactly that – a rock! Oh sorry, just because the pilot may have been white, it instantly racist isn’t it, you fucking moron.

  57. Phil   November 29, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    FFS! What an over-reaction! I mean, seriously, he shouldn’t have been flying if he was pissed though and that’s for starters. I’m pissed off because he didn’t carry out what he said he would do – a full stop landing.

    Now we’ve got to get a crowdfunding going to find another pilot who’s prepared to give it a go, before we crowdfund for the 737-800 attempt.

    This has got my blood boiling – all that un-necessary expense…

  58. Sam   January 23, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    I think it’s a dangerous stunt but what a legend! Disrespect for the local owners…..I’ve seen some of the local owners and they don’t seem to have much respect for themselves. Where have all the millions gone that the mining companies have paid our indigenous brothers? Must we keep apologising for the next 150 years?

  59. Brianno   March 20, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Funny !

  60. Dr Phil McGlass   March 21, 2016 at 12:46 am

    Has anyone considered it might be safer for pilots from the NT to fly while pissed than to risk a really hazardous flight while piloting an aircraft during alcohol withdrawal, otherwise known as the DTs?

  61. Shannon   March 21, 2016 at 6:02 am

    I understand that it was a dangerous act, but millions of dollars to remove tire marks , what a pile of crap. Just another money grab for the traditional owners

  62. Dave   March 22, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Well if you want to climb Ayers Rock you still can but the locals say though ‘Anangu have a responsibility to teach and safeguard visitors to their land. What visitors call ‘the climb’ is of great spiritual significance to the local Anangu. The climb is not prohibited, but Anangu ask as visitors to their land that you respect their wishes, culture and law by not climbing Uluru’.
    Ok then, let’s make it illegal to climb the rock then see how quickly the gates close down as not many people will go there if they can’t climb.
    Of course this is a money spinner for the local indigenous people, I hope they aren’t the ones claiming the exuberant fee to clean this off ‘millions of dollars’ my Ar#e!
    And before any of you bleedin’ liberals get on your high horse about my comments…..yes I am indigenous so I know about culture, if the Anangu were serious about their spirituality then they would close down the site and only have it for themselves, of course this is all about the money.

  63. Hig 70   March 22, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    having Climb the rock twice back in the early eighties i very much doubt that anyone could do a touch and go on the top of the Rock. its not a flat landing pad..wouldn’t be 5 metres flat area without a 1 metre valley.. anyway give it one rain spell and the tyre marks will be rusted away. good thing no one saw me pee up there…

  64. Pjarley   March 26, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    While I don’t think most of the cynical and hateful comments here warrant any attention at all, I have read many and will add my view.
    The native people of Australia deserve respect on their own terms. Their country and culture have been ruined by the European invasion of Australia. We (the non-indigenous) have no right to demand anything of the indigenous people and of the skerricks of their culture that remain. To suggest that they have no right to value Uluru as a sacred site, just a rock or whatever, is incredibly arrogant and ignorant. It is to suggest that we will accept nothing except the total annihilation of this people, their lives and their values.
    Come on white Australia have some heart. Show a modicum of understanding and generosity.
    BTW nobody said the indigenous people quoted a million dollars, It is a completely unsourced number. Why not turn your cynicism on the journalists rather than the traditional owners.

  65. Ian   April 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    I am a local of 50 years in central Australia and directly related to the 1st explorers to this area. This story seems like an urban legend to me however if true then its a great story that can only be pulled off by someone with a few Bundys under their skin. Years ago (1980s) a couple of mates and I attempted to drag an old car tyre up the Rock at night with the good intentions of pouring in some Petrol into it, setting it on fire and letting it roll down the side of Ayers Rock. Anyway the effort of hauling that heavy tyre was too much and so we gave up. It would have been a great sight watching that burning tyre coming down, much like an angry Spirit!

  66. DPL   October 18, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Well folks back in the dark ages in Australia there was a “newspaper” called The Truth. The Truth was very entertaining but there was absolutely no truth in any of the stories. This story would nicely fit into that good old paper.

  67. DO not call me Shirley   October 21, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    You ol mates take this tale hook line and sinker. Ffs.


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