Pilot dies in plane crash off NSW Curl Curl Beach

Added by on September 2, 2011

A Lightwing Speed Rotax 912 aircraft that took off from Ballina Friday morning crashed into the sea 50 meters off North Curl Curl beach in Sydney at 10:15 am (12:15am UTC/GMT) Friday killing the pilot. The lone passenger survived the crash and is being treated for spinal injuries at the Royal North Shore Hospital. Unconfirmed reports state that the trapped pilot may have drowned as the plane sank to a depth of 6 meters.

Shortly after the plane crashed into the water, onlookers noticed someone floating to the surface. They quickly swam out to rescue him. One of the rescuers noticed the survivor had back injuries, though his feet were moving. It took the survivor some time to tell the rescuers that there was another person in the plane.

Travis Griffin witnessed the plane descending to the water and noticed that the propeller had stopped. Griffin immediately and called for help. Chief Inspector Colin Green and Constable Jacob Gow were first to reach the scene, followed by rescue helicopters and boats. The two police officers immediately took to the water to try and reach the pilot, but were unsuccessful, as they did not have diving gear, said Jacob.

The name of the pilot is not being revealed because the family has to be informed first. However, David Rittie, President of the NSW Sports Aircraft Club, said that the pilot was experienced and had been flying for the last six years.

The pilot of the rescue helicopter said that the pilot of the ill fated craft had sent a mayday call at 10:15 am after which the aircraft disappeared off the radar.

A spokesman of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said that they were aware of the incident.

Another witness, Cliff Curl, said that the pilot was trying to land on the beach. This was confirmed by the control tower. However, Curl added that the pilot changed his mind and headed out to sea. The aircraft headed into the wind and rapidly began losing altitude.

The two surf lifesavers and the two police officers will be honored for their role in the rescue, said Northern Beaches Local Area Commander, Superintendent Doreen Cruickshank.