Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter holiday horror as two killed in plane crash. New South Wales, Australia

Police investigate the scene of a fiery plane crash just outside Cootamundra which claimed the lives of two pilots on Saturday night. 
Picture: Addison Hamilton

Police examine the site and wreckage of a light plane crash near Cootamundra. 
Picture: Addison Hamilton

THE aviation community is mourning the loss of two pilots who were killed on Saturday night when their microlight trike crash-landed on a property near Cootamundra and burst into flames.

The 50-year-old man and 53-year-old woman, who have yet to be identified, are believed to have been returning home from the 2012 Natfly in Temora about 6.30pm when their aircraft reportedly came into contact with a windmill on a property on Stockinbingal Road, about five kilometres from Cootamundra.

Paul Ballard, who was working in the shed of his West Kinlock property when the aircraft crash-landed a few hundred metres away, said he heard a loud bang.

By the time he made it outside, the towering flames which had engulfed the shell of the plane were visible above the line of trees that bordered the paddock.

“At that point I had my mobile phone in one hand and running shoes in the other,” he said.

“But there was not much I could do.” 

Cootamundra Local Area Command duty officer Inspector Matthew Tishler said by the time emergency service crews arrived at the scene the plane was well alight.

“It was extinguished by the fire brigade, that’s when we discovered the two deceased,” he said.

The two bodies were removed on Saturday night before police postponed the investigations until yesterday.

Yesterday, detectives from the NSW police aviation support branch and personnel from Recreational Aviation Australia did a series of fly-overs, assessing the Cootamundra property and mapping out the possible scenarios which may have brought the plane ride into jeopardy.

Inspector Tishler said while it had been confirmed the pair had taken off from Temora Airport about 6pm, there was little information as to how the flight unfolded. 

“It will probably be some time before a determination can be made as to what has bought about the aircraft failure or the accident,” Inspector Tishler said. 

“Then it will be a matter for the coroner. 

“Without going into the specifics of the legislation I understand there is some requirement they are on the ground before daylight ceases so that is something that has to be examined as well.”

Recreational Aviation Australia will be continuing the investigations.


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