Friday, October 22, 2010

One dead in Gympie plane crash

A MAN is dead after a plane crashed near Gympie about 4pm.

It is believed the plane came down on Lagoon Pocket Rd, Lagoon Pocket near Gympie Aerodrome.

"Details are sketchy at this stage," a Department of Community Services said.

"There's believed to be one person in the wreckage, deceased."

It is not known if anyone else has been injured.

A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said only one passenger was aboard the two-seater aircraft.

Ray Gresham lives about 800m from the crash site and was watching the plane moments before it crashed.

He said the pilot, a man who looked to be in his 60s, and was likely flying his own recreational plane, a three-quarter Spitfire.

"It would seem as though he spun into the ground on the final as he was coming into land," Mr Gresham said.

"I heard it on the downwind, just before he came into land.

"Only about a minute before he lost control I was actually watching him and then I walked back into the house."

Mr Gresham, who has lived at the aerodrome for 37 years, said it was only the second crash he had seen..

He said the plane did not appear too badly damaged from a distance but must have sustained considerable damage as it spun out of control.

Police are securing the scene before Recreational Aviation Australia accident investigators move in.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau senior investigator Richard Batt said the Spitfire was a popular "sport aviation aircraft" but there was "no reason to believe that they are less safe than other aircraft".

Gympie Aero Club past president Graeme Alexander believed the plane was normally kept at the Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield at Mt Beppo, near the Somerset Dam.

"It's a replica Spitfire, which is an 80 per cent scaled version of the original," he said.

"I've seen it around from time to time but I've never met the owner."

The Spitfire was a British, single-seat fighter aircraft used by Britain and its allies in World War II as a short-range high-performance interceptor aircraft.


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