Saturday, November 28, 2015

LightWing 912s, 25-3370: Fatal accident occurred November 29, 2015 in Woodstock near Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Ross Millard died in a light aircraft crash at Woodstock near Townsville on Sunday, November 29, 2015.

A Townsville pilot killed in a light plane crash at Woodstock yesterday was a larrikin who “lived and breathed” flying, according to friends.

Ross Millard, 64, died when his LightWing 912s aircraft crashed after take-off at Ace Aviation’s private airfield at 6.40am.

Mr. Millard, Recreational Aviation Australia’s North Queensland board member, had been flying for more than 45 years.

He had cheated death once previously, surviving a crash in the Northern Territory in 1974 in which two people died after a skydiving plane suffered “major engine power loss”.

Devastated friends yesterday remembered Mr Millard as someone who dedicated his life to improving aviation safety standards.

“He is a very experienced man and had flown all types of aircraft for many years so this a catastrophic loss,” fellow Woodstock pilot Ray Horn.

“He had done a lot of unpaid work through the ultralight fraternity because he was that passionate about flying.

“If I needed an inspection on my plane, he would be the man I go to because he took safety very seriously.

“There was every chance he was flying a plane he had been doing inspections on and I understand it was about ready for a test flight.”

Mr. Millard was a contract aircraft maintainer and aviation consultant across the North and was a member of Ingham Aero Club.

He had previously worked as an aircraft engineer for Air Whitsunday Seaplanes and TransAir in California, as well as a technician for the Royal Australian Air Force.

North Queensland Aviation Services owner Mary Brown said Mr Millard was known as “little buddy” around Ingham and was an upbeat, outgoing man.

“He was very pro-active at promoting in aviation in this region,” she said.

“Ross always strived for the highest standard of aircraft maintenance and always promoted good, safe aviation.

“He was very well known, an absolute unique character and a bit of a larrikin and it’s so tragic we’ve lost him, but he died doing what he loved.”

Woodstock’s Donnington Airpark owner Ray Smith said the crash was a terrible loss for the ultralight industry.

“I had known Ross for several years and always found him to be a good sort of fellow to know

and I have never heard anyone say a bad word against him,” Mr Smith said.

“We had nothing in the way of wind here so flying conditions would have been perfect.”

Mr. Millard was involved in the investigation of two planes that crashed near Woodstock in February, killing pilots Errol Young and Robin Friend.

“We all accept normal risks when we fly,” Mr Millard said at the time.

An investigation into the crash has begun and a report will be prepared for the coroner and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.


Ross Millard (r)
Aviation investigators will examine whether a light aircraft suffered mechanical failure during takeoff before it crashed at Woodstock, ­killing a Townsville pilot.

Experienced pilot Ross Millard was the sole occupant  of  an Australian-built 4-stroke light sport aircraft that crashed just after leaving the runway at Ace Aviation’s private airfield about 6.40 am yesterday. He died at the scene when it’s believed the plane burst into flames on impact.

The airfield was ­expected to remain closed and under police guard last night to allow investigators to sift through the wreckage today.

Townsville Forensic Crash Unit officer-in-charge Sergeant Robert Nalder said a number of people were distraught after seeing the crash.

Sgt Nalder said witnesses saw the plane takeoff and gain altitude shortly before crashing at the airfield. “It is a very close-knit community, so they are all distraught about what happened.”

Sgt Nalder was unable to confirm if Mr Millard was undertaking a test or joy flight at the time of the crash. “We will be assisted by Recreational Aviation Australia and I also believe the ATSB (Australian Transport Safety Bureau) will also overview the investigation,” he said.

“They’ll investigate the site and examine the aircraft itself to try and piece together what was has occurred.

“It will take a considerable amount of time to complete the investigation and the report (for the coroner).” Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said Recreational Aviation Australia officials would likely travel from outside Townsville, as its believed Mr ­Millard was the sole North Queensland-based inves­tigator.

“It will be some days ­before we have some ideas as to what happened,” he said.

“We know it had just taken off and something went wrong but nothing ­beyond that. “It’s obviously terrible when this sort of thing happens.

“They (RAA) will give a report to us in due course, which we will review to see if there are safety lessons to learn from this tragedy.”

Mr Millard is the third pilot to die in a recreational plane crash in North Queensland this year. In ­February, Errol Young and Robin Friend were killed when their planes crashed into each other about 7km south of Donnington Airpark at Woodstock.

Releasing the findings of its initial investigation into the fatal crash, RAA found the two aircraft collided in midair but the reason has still not been determined.

RAA found no evidence of mechanical failure.

A 64-year-old man was killed when his ultralight aircraft crashed while taking off from an air strip south of Townsville in north Queensland this morning.

The accident happened at Woodstock, about 40 kilometres south-west of Townsville, just before 7:00am.

Peter Gibson from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority said the pilot was trying to turn the aircraft around to land when it crashed and burst into flames.

"The aircraft was just taking off, it's had some difficulties and tried to turn back to the airstrip and hasn't made it," he said.

"It crashed into a wooded area quite close to the airstrip at Woodstock."

He said the pilot was the only person on board.

The airstrip is owned by Ace Aviation.

Light aircraft community 'distraught'

Sergeant Robert Nalder from the Townsville police forensic crash unit said the local aviation community was taking it hard.

"Obviously, as you can understand it's a very close-knit community, the light aircraft (community)," he said.

"They're all quite distraught over what's happened here today, so we've given them a little bit of time to compose themselves."

Mr Gibson said police are still at the scene and investigators will travel to the airfield to examine the wreckage and pinpoint the cause of the accident.

"The aircraft, being an ultralight, is registered with Recreational Aviation Australia," Mr Gibson said.

"They'll be conducting an investigation, providing a report to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

"We'll be reviewing that report and obviously trying to learn any safety lessons we can, so we can avoid these kinds of tragedies in the future."

1 comment:

  1. From looking at the pictures of the crash site the airplane was destroyed by impact and a post impact fire.

    You just don't have a margin of error when it comes to piloting small aircraft.