It happened in the year 1970.
John Rice, Sales Manager for Outback Pumps, Engines and Reticulation, commonly known as OPER, was on a visit to the Northern Territory, to consult with existing customers, and to drum up more business. As his outback travel took him to remote localities his company provided him with a Datsun Patrol four wheel drive vehicle for transport.
On this particular day he was driving between Eva Downs Station and Elliot Township when a horrible grating noise emanated from below his seat and his Datsun came to a grinding halt. Luckily for him, some station workers had been following a distance back to avoid his dust and gave him a lift to Elliot in their truck. Once there, he was able to organise a tow truck and had the Datsun towed to Elliot where the community mechanic had a look, and started with the gearbox. After the gearbox had been removed and stripped down it appeared that a cog that fitted between two gears had stripped its teeth and had to be replaced. Phone calls were made to Darwin but they had no stock. Then Head Office of Datsun Motor Company in Brisbane was contacted but they could find no stock in their warehouse or even Australia wide. The part had to come from Japan, as it was an unusual breakage and no stock was held. Three days had passed and it would be a month before a part could be sourced.
John said that this development was not a problem as he had to go to Japan the following month to a sales conference and he would source the part himself. He left the truck in Elliot and made his way back to his Sydney Head Office. First of all he had to use Shanks’ Pony to get to Katherine and some kindly aborigines picked him up and gave him a ride on the back of their old Ute. He shared that space with a number of mangy dogs and a couple of kids. From Katherine he was able to fly to Darwin and then back to his Head Office in Sydney.
The time came for the conference in Japan. John flew over to Tokyo and networked with many pump specialists from around the world. At the conclusion of the conference he set about procuring the cog for his Datsun. He made his way to the Azaboo-Hiroo district of Tokyo where the manufacturing plant of the Datsun Motor Company was situated. He was treated very cordially on his arrival and through an interpreter explained his predicament. Yes, they said, he could buy a cog but it was company policy to only sell them in batches of one thousand and that they would not budge on this policy. They said however, that they would give them to him at a very reasonable price. He reluctantly agreed as this part was needed if he was to get his beloved Datsun Patrol running again. So, after the niceties, John was presented with a box full of cogs neatly packaged for transport on his journey back to Australia.
There were no problems going through customs with his package but he had to pay excess baggage fees. Finally he was in the plane and homeward bound on his way to Australia.
The journey was uneventful until the plane flew through some very thick cloud. It turned out to be smoke from a volcano in the Phillipines which had erupted the day before. Both engines of the jet started to splutter and worried passengers looked at one another. The pilot spoke over the intercom and said that as the smoke had infiltrated the engine cooling systems the thrust had been reduced and that the plane was losing altitude. He was confident that they could make it to Manila Airport but all the luggage had to be jettisoned to lighten the load. The pilot instructed all of the stewards and stewardesses to go down in to the hold, open the emergency door and thrown the cargo out.
John Rice froze. His brain went in to overdrive. Surely after all the trouble he had gone to with the cogs they were now to be lost over the ocean. He undid his seat belt and rushed to the hatch and followed the airline staff down in to the hold. He shouted that what he had to rescue was life threatening and he rummaged through the luggage. After what seemed to be an eternity, and with individual items being tossed out of the emergency hatch, he found his box of cogs and ripped it open with a jemmy lever he found clamped to the wall of the hold. Feverishly he opened the box and stuffed four cogs in to his pockets before making his way back up in to the passenger’s compartment again. Then the open box of cogs was propelled in to space by two airline stewards.
Down below in the agricultural fields of the Philippines, Alvarez Gonzales was tending to his crops. Suddenly there was a whistling noise, then plop! plop! plop! plop! plop! plop! plop! He looked around and saw a dark object lying in his tomato beds. He picked it up. Instantly he recognised it.
With the dark object in his hand Alavarez rushed back to his house, shouting.
” Maria! Maria! Come quick!” he called out to his wife. Maria rushed out of the house.
“What is it, What is it?” she cried.
“Look! Look!” shouted Alvarez. “It’s raining DATSUN COGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!